The characteristics of ethical teaching during Remote Teaching and Learning contexts

Introduction

The shift to Emergency Remote Teaching and Learning (RTL) during the COVID 19 pandemic has forced lecturers to use online platforms such as Blackboard, Teams and other Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) such as WhatsApp.  The rapid change has been unsettling as lecturers anxiously tried to reach their students online. Lecturers had to revisit their teaching methods and focus on creating an online social presence through various activities such as short videos, podcasts, synchronous and asynchronous discussions, and peer and collaborative learning opportunities. Feedback from students shows that they adapted their learning and had to apply different learning strategies.  In the process, challenges and questions arose about the ethics of teaching online.   

Mutual engagement and interaction

Supportive engagement and interaction were essential to lecturers’ online teaching. They paid attention to establishing relations of care and trust with their students.  Feedback from students shows that most lecturers tried to create a caring and nurturing learning environment online. According to the students, lecturers played a supportive role in setting the proper tone and atmosphere during RTL. They displayed the capacity to show their social presence via controlled, yet ubiquitous online communication. The students explained that they were aware of the lecturers’ presence in the online environment.   Lecturers went on to create a nurturing and supportive environment during RTL by using a variety of strategies to engage students in learning activities, such as including synchronous and asynchronous forms of engagement, WhatsApp messaging and  Blackboard.

Generating student-centred learning activities

Our engagement with lecturers shows that student-centred learning activities online is a critical aspect of RTL. A student-centred approach to learning relies on constant dialogue and interaction between lecturers and students and ensures that student learning is at the heart of RTL. Lecturers focused on developing learning activities that cultivate understanding and autonomous learning opportunities. Rather than giving loads of notes and PowerPoints, a strategy of students-centred learning was developing activities that generate independent and critical thinking. Lecturers constructed activities that assist students in asking why and encouraged high order thinking. Too often, lecturers only rely on rote-learning questions and do not ask students to apply the concepts.

Providing peer support opportunities such as tutors and mentors

Remote teaching and learning can lead to students feeling alone in the learning process. What has to be accounted for is that learning is also a social activity and that lecturers have to develop opportunities for students to engage with one another in the learning process. A key feature of RTL is, therefore, providing access to peer learning and support. Some lecturers changed their pedagogical approaches by including peers, tutors and mentors and as part of the learning process. Online tutors and mentors played a crucial role in RTL so that students felt like they were part of a community of learners.  Having regular online tutor sessions allowed students to learn from their peers and to engage in the affective dimensions of RTL. Peer learning was encouraged through pedagogical strategies such as group work and paired learning activities in the online environment.

Extending the resources available to students

While we rely on texts in the traditional classroom, a vital element of RTL is to provide a range of resources for students to learn from such as audio, visual, print and online library resources. RTL forces lecturers to use audio and video as part of their pedagogical strategies. Ironically, print material is essential for students as lecturers fear that not all students would have access to the internet. The various pedagogical approaches resulted in lecturers attending to a broader range of students’ learning styles.

Responsiveness during assessments and ensuring that feedback is prompt

Assessments and feedback is a critical part of the RTL. Assessments always evoke anxiety and stress, and within the RTL context, anxieties about assessments are heightened. Responsiveness during assessments and ensuring that feedback is prompt was central to RTL. The feedback from students showed that students appreciated lecturers who communicated clearly about what to expect from assessments and those lecturers who responded to questions about assessments. For students to learn effectively, feedback after assessments must be prompt and must enable students to improve their work. Lecturers used various platforms to give feedback to students such as Blackboard and WhatsApp.

Utilising ICTs: To WhatsApp or not to WhatsApp?

Lecturers utilised ICTs tools extensively during RTL, and the most widely used tool was WhatsApp. The challenges were related to the style, and the manner of engagement as students would use a casual tone and would sometimes use expletives as part of their interaction with lecturers. Some lecturers did not want to impose themselves on the WhatsApp space and decided that a student representative should be part of the WhatsApp group and would in turn report to the lecturer.

Students studying at home

Factors such as as a noisy learning environment, an unsuitable place to study and learn and living with a large family impacted on RTL. Students also had to deal with psycho-social problems such as the anxiety and fear of not completing the academic year, the fear of COVID-19 and feeling alone while studying and not having the normal support of peers          

3RD ANNUAL FUNDANI CHED STUDENT LEARNING UNIT 12 November 2020 9:00 – 15:30

Theme: Vulnerabilities, Disruptions and Possibilities for the Future Beyond Covid-19

Call for Abstracts

Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim – Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book I.

Never before, in the post-colonial era, in South Africa (and globally), has the current generation of lecturers, administrators, students, managers and non-academic staff members been challenged at a personal, intellectual, emotional, psychological and social level. The outbreak of coronavirus (“Covid-19”) has put a tremendous pressure on higher education institutions to shift from traditional F2F teaching and learning to predominantly online pedagogies. Many of us were caught by surprise, as we were not adequately prepared for the exigencies associated with the abrupt change to remote teaching and learning (RTL).

The pandemic presents the world with a clear picture of the inherent blind spots of mass education and the complications associated with the principle of universal education upon which it is constructed (Soudien 2020). In other words, the historical disadvantages and disparities/realities were magnified during Covid-19 (Ngogi 2020; Parker, Morris & Hofmeyer 2020; Sayed & Singh 2020). This is a double tragedy to countries that are already deeply challenged by issues of access to education, economic discrepancies, infrastructure development, poverty reduction, management of natural resources, and health services (Ayega 2020). Notwithstanding their mundane structural inequalities and socio-political realities, lecturers and students at CPUT, were rendered vulnerable, anxious and uncertain.

Brantmeier (2013) describes pedagogy of vulnerability as an approach to education that invites vulnerability and deepened learning through process of self and mutual disclosure on the part of co-learners in the classroom. To apprehend the situations of vulnerability we need to build resilience into our educational systems. Resilience as persistence, adaptability, and transformability of complex adaptive social-ecological systems is the focus, clarifying the dynamic and forward-looking nature of the concept (Folke 2016). This view is captured well by Ngogi (2020) who argue that beyond Covid-19 we must “never set ourselves back to the normal frame of reference”.

Online and remote engagement afforded lecturers and students with technological skills and resources (audio-video presentations, online assessment, internet connectivity and devices) that would be instrumental to the achievement of CPUT’s goal of an “one smart CPUT” (From the Vice-Chancellor, Chris Nhlapo’s Inaugural Address, April 2019). CPUT professed that no student should be left behind, in line with the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande’s pronouncement: “We are doing this to make assurances to South Africa today that no single student or institution will be left behind in our strategy.” Nevertheless, two questions, come to mind: “did we really live up to the notion of leaving no student behind?” and “what were our experiences?”

We need to pursue an inquiry that will examine the social reality of our lived experience and strategically sponsor deliberations on the course of action beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, the Student Learning Unit calls for the exigencies of Covid-19 RTL to be explored. Its 3rd Academic Support Symposium is aimed at giving both lecturers and students an opportunity to discuss their lived experiences of RTL and to determine how the accumulated knowledge and wisdom will facilitate future innovative pedagogies. The symposium is

organised around the theme: Vulnerabilities, Disruptions and Possibilities for the Future Beyond Covid-19.

Sub-themes:

  • Vulnerabilities and Disruptions – the lived student and staff experience during Lockdown 
  • Innovative Pedagogies – Staff and student responsiveness to remote teaching and learning; developing pedagogic relationships
  • Possibilities for the Future beyond Covid-19 – think beyond tomorrow – what does tomorrow look

References

Aristotle. (1999). Nicomachean Ethics. Translated by Kitchener: Batoche Books.

Ayega, D., 2020. Pandemics and Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: Invest in Education Technology. American Journal of Educational Research, 8(8), pp.581-586.

Brantmeier, E.J. (2013). Pedagogy of vulnerability: Definitions, assumptions, and applications. In Lin, J., Oxford, R.,Ƭ Brantmeier, E.J., Re-Envisioning Higher Education: Embodied Pathways to Wisdom and Transformation Information Age Publishing.pp.95-106.

Folke, C., 2016. Resilience (republished). Ecology and Society, 21(4):44. https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol21/iss4/art44/. (Accessed: 09 October 2020).

Ngogi, E.M., 2020. The Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on Education: Navigating forward the pedagogy of blended learning. University of Pretoria, South Africa, 5, pp.4-9.

Parker, R., Morris, K. and Hofmeyr, J. (2020). Education, inequality and innovation in the time of COVID-19. Johannesburg: Jet Education.

Sayed, Y & Singh, M. (2020) Evidence and education policy making in South Africa during Covid-19: Promises, researchers and policymakers in an age of unpredictability. Southern African Review of Education, 26(1): 20–39.

Soudien, C., 2020. Complexities of difference and their significance for managing inequality in learning: Lessons from the COVID-19 crisis. Prospects, pp.1-9.

Presentation formats could be as follows:

  • Poster presentation
  • Paper presentations (15 presentation and 5 minute Q&A)
  • Terrace Talks – Themes conversations

Register to attend Here

Deadlines:

Registration Opens – 23 October

Deadline for Abstracts – 2 November

Feedback – 6 November 

For more information contact: Dr Xena Cupido email: cupidox@cput.ac.za

Your support is as always highly appreciated. 

Learn more about Student VPN for Blackboard

CPUT will be introducing a new VPN solution (Global Protect VPN) which will replace the current student data allocations, provided by the university. The new VPN solution will allow students to securely access CPUT network resources, at no cost, when off campus. This solution has been successfully implemented within universities both locally and internationally with great success. 

How to Prepare

The GlobalProtect VPN client can be downloaded via the following links:

Iphone Installation

Android Installation

Installation on Laptop/PC

Instructions to download and install the VPN client can be found via the video and VPN installation guide below: 

  • Video to be embedded here <attached>
  • Global Protect Installation Guide (link to installation guide) <attached>

Connecting from Off-Campus 

Once you’ve installed the VPN client, you navigate to the VPN Portal (https://sop.cput.ac.za)  with your device to connect to CPUT online resources.

Which device platforms are supported? 

The GlobalProtect VPN can be installed on the following device platforms: 

  • Android 
  • Windows 
  • Mac OS 
  • iOS (iPhone and iPad) 
  • Linux 

Important Dates 

  • September 2020 – Global Protect VPN available to CPUT students 

 Support 

If you experience issues using the GlobalProtect VPN, please contact the CTS Service Desk at ctsservicedesk@cput.ac.za or alternatively at 021 959 6407 

Student Learning Unit goes ONLINE…

As the countdown begins to the 1 June 2020 start, the Student Learning Unit has been preparing for an online roll-out. We have developed a few guidelines to help you access our services, hopefully this will help you navigate your way through this new territory. If you wish to access information a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) has been set up which addresses questions that you may have. While this is not an exhaustive list of questions, please feel free to send any further questions you may have and we will add this to the list.

As a lecturer if you would like to appoint a tutor, you may find useful information here: Online Tutor Training .We have developed a similar sheet for Teaching Assistant Training and appointment, you will find important information with regards to the training and appointment of TAs in this document. Tutor Training and Teaching Assistant training will take place online. Once lecturers have submitted the enrolment forms, a link will be sent to all students registered into the training programme

If your students would like a consultation with a lecture in Academic Literacy or Mathematics, a consultation form needs to be completed. Should you require more information please visit anyone of our information portals Student Learning Blackboard page or the Student Learning Blog

WS2: Blended learning Course Design

Facilitators: Ass. Prof. Daniela Gachago & Dr. Faiq Waghid, CIET, CPUT

Date and location: 

  • 7th of March 2019, 12.30-15.00, D6 campus (room 3128 in the  library)
  • 14th of March 2019, 13.00-15.30, Bellville campus

Workshop description

This workshop will introduce CPUTs vision for blended learning, framed by Laurillard’s book ‘Teaching as a Design Science‘. Starting off with focusing on your current students’ needs (persona activity), we will unpack the 6 Ways of Learning and show good practice on how blended learning can support these. Finally we will introduce a model for course redesign (storyboarding). To book your place please use our online booking system. We look forward to an interactive workshop with you!

WS1: Theoretical foundations of blended learning

Facilitators: Ass. Prof. Daniela Gachago & Dr. Faiq Waghid, CIET, CPUT

Date and location: 

  • 21st of February 2019, 13.30-15.30, Bellville campus, Library, venue 1
  • 28th of February 2019, 13.00-15.00, D6 campus, Library 3rd floor, Room 3.128

Workshop description

This workshop will unpack some of the theoretical assumptions driving teaching and learning practices. Starting from  your vision of how a CPUT graduate should look like, we will reflect on your assumptions on teaching and learning, and map them against common learning theories. This will provide an opportunity to rethink your teaching and your students’ learning and to explore the potential and gaps of your current pedagogical strategies in aligning with your vision of how a graduate student will engage with the world of work and the community they are embedded in. This is the first of a series of workshops, that will support you in redesigning your course offering using blended learning.  If this is something that has sparked interest, please click on our online booking system. We look forward to an interactive workshop with you!

Is ATS good at communicating science?

Before we answer this question, let’s first contextualize the structure, mandate and operating procedures of the Agrifood Technology Station. The Station consists of seven technical staff members, an Administrator and a Finance Officer. Our mandate is innovation support to SMEs in the food industry and also technology transfer and training. In our set of Standard Operating Procedures it would be quite evident that meeting this mandate requires significant two-way communication with our clients, other academics, suppliers and the public at large.

Now, having said that, it also implies that we need to do this in a way that the parties mentioned above understand, assimilate, use and critique such communication and its content. It will also be evident that the parties mentioned above would almost be a disparate group in terms of science. Put another way, the degree of knowledge of hard science and science “lingo” would vary greatly. In other words, ATS would need to communicate in different ways with different people pending their “science groundedness”.

Why the question in the first place? In the first instance, because of my own interest in science communication in terms of my role as manager of ATS. Hence my completing an online course in science communication through the Center for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) at the University of Stellenbosch. In the second instance, the importance of science communication is growing in this science & technology-driven world. This is evidenced by articles in The Conversation:

Our job at ATS is thus clearly dependent on communicating science and technology. Over the years we have worked with nano- or micro-enterprises up to multinationals and big corporates. This means we would have communicated with a wide variety of people of all educational backgrounds, including academics at other tertiary institutions. We have learnt over the years how to communicate technically challenging topics or processes. This includes breaking down these topics or processes into simple unit operations. In the initial life of ATS (more than 12 years ago now) this did prove somewhat of a challenge.

Some parts of the challenge was that, in many instances, the clients we serviced were, more often than not, well-versed and technically savvy in their special project or task. However, in the same instance, they would not be as savvy regarding all the supporting knowledge or other operations which they needed for support and for solving their specific problems/ projects. This is where the value of ATS arose i.e. having a good generals science and technology background we could help clients see the trees in the wood.

I also completed a crash course toward certification as a consultant. This was a generic course that could be applied to many different fields. Surprisingly, this course corroborated our learnings at ATS in terms of how to work with a client. This included the empathy required with problem solving as well as the need to listen well before responding. To me, this confirmed that our approach, still in use today, was the correct one.

n the “publish or perish” world of academia, the need to address everyday challenges of our communities has slowly become more important. As the old story goes, blue sky research was the order of the day, a large percentage of which was fundamental or far from directly answering critical, real-world challenges. Suffice to say that, via Universities of Technology and also now traditional universities, this is being remedied. The Agrifood Technology Station is one such unit among many others at the forefront of this bandwagon, again communicating solutions and information to the challenges and improving public understanding of the outcomes of such.

We do try our best!

L. Dolley

Stitching together career development

The Technology Station: Clothing and Textiles recently celebrated their most recent crop of short course graduates.

Acting Dean of the Engineering Faculty, Prof Mellet Moll, was on hand to award certificates to the nine learners who successfully completed four short learning programmes.

Technology Station: Clothing and Textiles (TSCT) Manager Shamil Isaacs said it was important to recognise the achievements of the industry based learners who sacrificed their free time on Saturdays to attend classes.

“Also, to appreciate the support of participating host companies Pep, Seagull Industries, K-way and Sweet Orr and acknowledge the supporting stakeholders and funders who are the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing SETA, the Technology Innovation Agency and CPUT as the host institution,” said Isaacs.

The learners completed Introduction to Pattern and Garment Technology; Textiles and Fabrics; Computer Pattern Making; and Product and Labour Costing.

The TSCT has a menu of 18 registered short courses on its brochure, focusing on areas such as Pre-Production Technology or Textiles. About 12 of these run on a regular basis, dependent on demand in any given year. The TSCT also offers customisable programmes based on consultation with businesses as part of a company’s internal staff development programme.

The short course brochure and application form for 2019 are now available on the CPUT website.

Isaacs pointed out a key driver of the TSCT is to support small business and emerging techno-entrepreneurs with a particular emphasis on previous disadvantaged persons.

One of the learners who collected her certificate of completion is Jackie Bezuidenhout. Manufacturing Technologist for Pepkor Clothing, she considered doing the short courses worth her time. “We learnt a lot and I would recommend doing these short courses to my colleagues,” said Bezuidenhout.

Article taken from CPUT Bulletin

Written by Theresa Smith

Megan Alexander: extra(ordinary) academic in ECP who is ‘supporting students as they transition into and through the university’

In our final segment of the (extra)ordinary academics in ECP series for 2018, we shine the spotlight on Megan Alexander. Megan is a Communications lecturer in the PAG Foundation and Tourism and Entrepreneurship extended programmes in the Business Faculty. We sat down with Megan to find out more about her interests in education more generally, and current role within the ECP domain.


At her core, Megan is a teacher. She started her career as a primary school teacher before moving into the TVET sector and then finally joining CPUT, in the Education Faculty as a Teaching Practice Coordinator. In 2015 she joined the ECP community when she moved to the Business Faculty as a Communications lecturer. Megan is also responsible for the PAG Foundation coordination and deals with all the RPL applications in the PAG department.

Megan feels her grounding in both the primary and secondary schooling sector has prepared her well for understanding, especially, students’ university transitions and language and communication needs. She has been able to marry her dual interests and passion for education and language in her own educational journey which started at UWC. She completed an English and Psychology degree before pursuing a post-graduate diploma in education. She then completed a BEd in Educational Psychology. However, her experiences of working in multilingual educational contexts and her interesting to appropriately support students in predominantly English medium learning environments, led her to pursue a Masters’ degree in Second Language Acquisition at Stellenbosch University.

Megan particularly enjoys and is drawn to supporting first-year students in the ECP pathway. She feels it is the differentiating characteristics of this cohort that makes the teaching space she occupies a particularly productive one. Some of the main challenges she has encountered, appears to reside outside her immediate ECP classroom. These include, the uneven faculty and institutional support and understanding of ECP and certain structural barriers within the faculty that prevent lecturers from exploring the full curricular potential of the ECP teaching and learning space. Megan believes firmly that ECP academics need more control over the selection and placement of students in their classrooms.

As a passionate advocate for the ECP project she feels that it acts as a vital mechanism of providing entry routes for students into their chosen fields of study. In key ways ECP does address the educational needs of its students. Therefore, it is an important social justice driver in the university sector. Megan emphatically states that ECP is not fulfilling a ‘bridging’ function, rather it is a legitimate pathway to successfully completing a diploma qualification. She also believes that ECP holds tangible benefits for both students and academics. But more could be done to support ECP academics. Especially to forge a closer, more productive community of practice, and to assist with their development as not only teachers, but also researchers.

Megan, along with her PAG Foundation colleagues, recently participated in a few practice-sharing dissemination and networking opportunities at conferences. In 2019 she will embark on a collaborative research project with colleagues at UCT and two universities in Australia. Their research topic: students’ academic reading as they transition through the university.

In her spare-time Megan is an avid play-station ‘gamer’ and she enjoys gardening, keeping fit and walking her dog.