Teaching and learning – an alternate perspective
The year 2021 marked the second year of teaching and learning under pandemic conditions. In many respects, it was a contradictory year. On the one hand, the university adapted well to physically distanced teaching and learning. On the other hand, we started to see a few negative consequences of the move toward remote teaching in 2020, the two most critical being weaker engagement among students with their own learning, and the need for extra support for students who were allowed to take courses, despite poor performance in the previous year.
However, the progressive expansion of the COVID-19 vaccination and the ability of public health measures to manage the pandemic allowed the return to campus of many students. The faculties and operational and academic services responded admirably to the process of planning a phased return to campus under changing COVID-19 restrictions.
The University of Cape Town (UCT) was fully engaged in the process of selecting a new learning management system, which was led and finalised by colleagues from the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching in the Centre for Higher Education Development. This was achieved thanks to high levels of participation from staff and students and intense discussions at faculty boards.
As was the case in the year prior, the Teaching Online Task Team, which was created as a space for troubleshooting, planning, and consolidation of teaching and learning initiatives, continued to act as a sounding board for all decisions about undergraduate teaching and learning.
In relation to fulfilling the activities and commitments in the regular university academic calendar, UCT held an innovative Teaching and Learning Conference during 2021, which was acknowledged as a novel experience by attendees. The Distinguished Teacher Award honoured two outstanding humanities lecturers who did excellent work in the area of curriculum renewal in history and anthropology: Dr Bodhisattva Kar – Historical Studies, and Dr Marlon Swai – Social Anthropology.
Students, through their faculty councils’ representatives, continued to play a key role in communicating the students’ concerns and experiences about different aspects of the implementation of the teaching and learning framework for 2021 to the office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning.
Associate Professor Lis Lange
DVC: Teaching and Learning
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