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Blended learning in times of disruption - a case study from CPUT

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Presentation at the National Blended Learning Convention, 1st of June 2018, Birchwood Conference Centre, Kempton Park, Johannesburg

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Blended learning in times of disruption - a case study from CPUT

  1. 1. Daniela Gachago, Cheryl Belford and Bronwyn Swartz Cape Peninsula University of Technology @dgachago17 Blended learning in times of disruption
  2. 2. Outline CPUT and FMF FMF and blended learning Bronwyn and Cheryl - introduction Tronto - ethics of care Concluding thoughts Disclaimer: This is NOT an institutional perspective but a personal reflection on 2 academics’ and 1 academic staff developer’s teaching and learning practices CC BY Max Pixel
  3. 3. CPUT and #FMF CPUT one of the institutions most strongly hit by FMF 2015/2016/2017 Different levels of preparedness Initially no institutional approach / decision making left to departments or individual academics Over years “normalisation” of protests (integrated into year planning)
  4. 4. FMF and Blended Learning Huge increase in interest in blended learning – success story Blended learning / online more successful if lecturers & students were prepared Increase in discomfort around social justice aspects of using BL in terms of disruption
  5. 5. Cheryl and Bronwyn - Both in the Faculty of Engineering - “eLearning champions” - Blackboard Power Users - Part of 2016 CPUT OER project - Particular interest in developing and using screencasts - Continued the academic project successfully (majority of students managed to complete their subjects successfully before semester end) - Mix of LMS and other tools (screencasting / discussion forums / WhatsApp / online exams) - Ongoing conversations around the ethics of using BL in times of student protests Cheryl Belford: Transportation Engineering Programme, Department of Civil Engineering Bronwyn Swartz: Quality Programme in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
  6. 6. JOan Tronto’s ethics of care (1990, 1993, 2001, 2013) - Centring care as a political project (2013) - More than just a disposition: an ethical practice - Rather than looking at big ethical dilemmas it is in our everyday practices of caring for ourselves and others that we most need to consider and practice ethical behaviour (2001) Joan Tronto (1993). Moral Boundaries: A Political Argument for an Ethic of Care. New York: Routledge.
  7. 7. relationality complex ethical relationship all participants or actors need to be involved Moves beyond dyadic relations for carer/caregiver, mother/child, teacher/student Contextual / situational - we are all both care giver and care receiver at times CC BY Pixabay
  8. 8. TEnsions /dilemmas Competing needs Power differentials Potential for abuse in care relationships “Not all care is good care” (Tronto 1993) Care can be paternalistic - care that reaffirms or reinstates power differentials - One way care Care can be parochial - caring only for those who are close to us or similar to us CC BY Caliper Studio
  9. 9. video https://youtu.be/RSvvcuwkLBc
  10. 10. Moral elements of care 1. Attentiveness (caring about): noticing unmet needs, suspending one’s own judgements and being able to see the world from the perspective of the one in need. 2. Responsibility (caring for): taking on the burden of responding to this need. 3. Competence (care giving): being competent to care, which is always both a technical and a moral and political issue. 4. Responsiveness (care receiving): listening to the response of the person/group that was cared for, sometimes resulting in new unmet needs. 5. Solidarity (caring with): taking collective responsibility, to think of citizens as both receivers and givers of care, and to think seriously about the nature of caring needs in society. CC BY PxHere
  11. 11. Being able and willing to respond to change and disruption ● Lecturers’ decision making processes were based on ongoing student consultation, supported by social media and instant messaging tools such as WhatsApp groups. ● Final choice about the continuation of the academic project was left to the individual lecturer, our choice to continue was based on a perceived need and willingness by a majority of students to complete the academic year. Reflection: Attentiveness (Caring About)
  12. 12. Reflection: Responsibility (Caring For) Taking the responsibility to adopt current teaching and learning practices ● Decision to continue academic project by designing a learning environment conducive to the new context. Being prepared and being capable ● Both lecturers and students’ levels of competence were high, based on previous exposure. Blended and later online/open learning was neither new to the lecturers nor to their students. Reflection: Competence (Care Giving)
  13. 13. Reflection: Responsiveness (Care Receiving) Establishing communication channels with students ● Continuous response to students’ feedback and levels of engagement ● Move from the institutional learning management system to more open, more accessible and more data effective platforms as a necessary step to allow students to fully engage. Willingness to repeatedly update materials based on students’ feedback. ● Cheryl anonymised students’ contribution, showing care for students who navigated difficult terrains when openly continuing the academic project and thus going against the student protests.
  14. 14. Reflection: SOLIDARITY (Caring with) To think seriously about the nature of caring needs in society ● Tronto’s final element of solidarity, speaks about collective responsibility and linking the needs of own context to the needs of society at large. How do individual lecturers’ actions impact on the larger systems (in terms of the institution, Higher Education system, South Africa as a whole)? ● Reflecting on this final principle of the ethics of care, our practices during #FMF become a thorny issue.
  15. 15. Zembylas 2017 “To the extent that “improved teaching” is squeezed into categories of growth and progress grounded in discourses of teacher competences and behaviours— without instilling the practical demands of teaching life with ethical and political significance—then our efforts will unwittingly be caught up in a blind reproduction of hegemonic forms of educational development and monolithic notions of “improved teaching” in higher education.”
  16. 16. ● Disruption as positive trigger to more creative teaching and learning practices ● But: education needs to be seen as a political project ● Deciding to continue to teach is not a technical or pedagogical question – it’s an ethical practice ● Huge potential for more democratic / equal relationships with students / collaborative decision making ● Caring institutions are built bottom up through caring pedagogies (Walker and Gleaves 2016) ● Importance of self care Some preliminary conclusions... CC BY Max Pixel
  17. 17. Ethics an ongoing project ...a species activity that includes everything that we do to maintain, continue, and repair our ‘world’ so that we can live in it as well as possible. That world includes our bodies, our selves, and our environment, all of which we seek to interweave in a complex, life- sustaining web (see Tronto 1993, 103; Fisher and Tronto 1990, 40) CC BY Max Pixel
  18. 18. Further resources Conversation between Cheryl and Bronwyn: https://youtu.be/RSvvcuwkLBc Emerge Africa webinar part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmXpo3CyFqQ&t=4s Emerge Africa webinar part 2:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmXpo3CyFqQ&t=4s Paper in press: Gachago, D., Swartz, B., Belford C. 2018. To care or not to care - reflections on the ethics of blended learning in times of disruption. Special issue on the Ethics of Care in Academic Staff Development, South African Journal of Higher Education (SAJHE)
  19. 19. Any Questions? Stay in touch Gachagod@cput.ac.za Swartzb@cput.ac.za Belfordc@cput.ac.za
  20. 20. References Tronto, J., 1993. Moral boundaries: A political argument for an ethic of care. New York & London: Routledge. Walker, C., and A. Gleaves, 2016. Constructing the Caring Higher Education Teacher: A Theoretical Framework. Teaching and Teacher Education, 54, 65-76 Zembylas, M. 2017. “Practicing an Ethic of Discomfort as an Ethic of Care in Higher Education Teaching.” Cristal - Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning 5 (1): 1–17. doi:10.14426/cristal.v5i1.97.

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