Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My work, my passion

My work is my passion and gives me great pleasure. Being Dean: Academic Development, puts me in a position where I can contribute in a meaningful way to the academic and professional development of staff and students.

I oversee the centres for teaching and learning, curriculum development, e-learning, quality improvement, distance education and the library and information centre. This multi-disciplinary team work closely together and promotes the synergism between different activities and interventions.

One of the biggest challenges for me is how best we can be responsive to students’ cultural and language needs within the lecture venue, the curriculum and to research the impact of diversity on the teaching behaviour of lecturers.

On postgraduate level the development of students’ academic writing skills and the conceptualisation of research ideas are close to my heart.

I believe that within the South African “rainbow” higher education environment, lecturers are not sensitive enough towards students’ cultural and language needs and do not deal in a creative way with these challenges, neither have we conducted rigorous research on this matter. Furthermore, South African academics too easy utilise modules from the USA, UK and Australia without contextualising it for the SA context. They perceive these models to be “perfect”. That is why we often, after a huge waste of resources, have to go back to the drawing board and found that it had not suite the intended purpose.

I would like to interact with peers that have the same interest and to learn from their experiences and practices in this regard.

Friday, October 06, 2006

About the Unit for Academic Development

The increasing complex higher education environment, the impact of technology on learning, a diverse student population and policy imperatives are forcing universities more than ever to invest in academic development services. Gone are the days where lecturers could only focus on their disciplines. Knowledge of technology, curricula, learning facilitation, student learning, quality assurance, etc. demand from academic and lecturers to be multi skilled.

Prof Driekie Hay is leading the Unit for Academic Development at the Central University of Technology, Free State. Primary services rendered here are the professional development of academics for whom development opportunities are created regarding an array of learning and teaching priorities. The Library and Information Centre is attached to the unit and plays a major role in the development of information literacy. The division Curriculum Development is at the heart of CUTs programme planning where programmes are developed and implemented in an innovative way. True to the nature of a university of technology is the development of learning methods and delivery modes that utilize technology infrastructures. The Centre for E-Learning and Education Technology empowers lecturers to combine e-learning and outcomes-based education to ensure a holistic approach in teaching and learning at CUT. The Centre for Teaching and Learning takes care of the professional development of all academic staff. To achieve this both informal workshops and formal courses provided. The learner centres at Kimberley and Kroonstad are also supported through the Division of Dr Kallie de Beer.