Twelve tones for teachers to play during troublesome times
Professors Without Borders hosted a virtual conference available to watch online on Higher Education in the Time of COVID-19. The conference featured professor and student panellists who shared their personal experiences with online learning available here. Andreas Velthuizen a professor experienced in online teaching shared his twelve tones for teachers to play during troublesome time with us.
Note 1: Maintain and improve diverse ways of online communication with your students. They do not only want to read in emails what to do, they also want to hear your voice and see you from time to time despite social distancing.
Note 2: Show real compassion for students in distress. The usual empathy is not enough. You may never have been in the shoes of a single mother who took a salary cut because of COVID, living in a shack within a community without electricity, who lost relatives and cannot afford the tools and facilities that comes with online learning. Work out ways with them to enable their studies without taking sole responsibility for that.
Note 3: Encourage the management of the university to adapt logistical and financial priorities and live up to their claims of student-centered education.
Note 4: Participate with other educators to design and develop innovative solutions that will make the educational system more resilient against severe disruptions such as war and pandemics.
Note 5: Participate in the development of learning solutions that provides for both adaptive personalized learning and equality in access to education.
Note 6: Participate in the development of technological solutions that will bring high quality, affordable, secure, e-learning platforms that is easy to maintain in any circumstances.
Note 7: Actively bridge the learning gap to eradicate learning inequalities, focusing on the inclusion of especially the less privileged youth and women in innovation and knowledge production.
Note 8: Invest in and develop your own tools and skills for continual access from any site with various instruments, linking multiple sites of students and professionals with different financial means and abilities. Now it is time to buy those voice capturing (e.g. Dragon), online editing (e.g. Grammarly), good anti-virus programs (e.g Kaspersky) and professional editions of online conferencing platforms such as Zoom, MS Teams and Google Meets (if not provided by the university in a VPN environment when you work from other sites than the office).
Note 9: Create and strengthen the research pipeline to Community Sites of Knowledge (those post-graduate students and research partners in our townships and rural villages who are the real knowledge holders in our quest to find social solutions).
Note 10: Engage with university management to invest in enabling administrators to provide online admin support from any remote site, by providing the tools, data and digital literacy competencies.
Note 11: Join online higher education communities-of-practice to enhance knowledge sharing, peer learning, learn about best practices of quality assurance and capacity building for distance learning.
Note 12: Research and publish lessons learned from lived experiences while teaching and learning under pandemic restrictions, especially how people succeeded or failed to bring intellectual capital and technological tools together to move from remote emergency learning to become professional distance learning institutions.
Andreas Velthuizen is a National Research Foundation (NRF) rated researcher on the faculty of the Thabo Mbeki School for Public- and International Affairs at the University of South Africa (Unisa). His primary academic interest is to teach and develop transdisciplinary theory for peace in Africa, grounded in African epistemology and in engagement with communities recovering from violent conflict. His current focus is to develop peace and security theory and practice together with social communities and communities-of-practice involved in Africa.
He published extensively and presented his work at academic conferences and workshops on most continents in the world. He further shares his knowledge through the supervision of post-graduate students and teaching thought leadership for conflict resolution, election security management and dispute resolution. He is Co-editor of the reputable African Security Review (ASR) journal.
His qualifications include a D Litt et Phil degree in Politics from Unisa for a dissertation with the title ‘The Management of Knowledge: A Model for the African Renaissance’, an MA and BA Hons Degrees in Strategic Studies as well as a BA-degree majoring in International Politics and Political Science.
He is a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International and an active member of the Rotary E-club of District 9400, currently appropriately focussing the Rotary focus area of Peace and Conflict Resolution, including the establishment of a Vocational Training Team to train Rotary mediators in Southern Africa.