Two TOGI lecturers, Dr Isabel Tarling and Dr Pam Miller presented papers at the recently held Fully Online Distance Education Symposium (FODES) in October 2021, hosted by the University of Pretoria. The conference provided the opportunity for like-minded academics who design, develop and facilitate tertiary online education, to share and reflect.
Dr Miller’s Presentation at FODES
Dr Miller shared information on the Orientation Module in the Post Graduate Certificate in Education in the presentation ‘Digital support for non-traditional students embarking on a post-graduate qualification’. The philosophy and underpinning of the current module was discussed. Plans for getting student input about the content of the module were discussed.
The importance of an orientation module is a topic often heard in other presentations, as well as the need to use feedback instruments and to refine the module. It was most certainly a conference for academic growth!
Dr Tarling’s Presentation at FODES
Dr Tarling reported her experience of the Fully Online Distance Education Symposium (FODES21): ‘Academics from across South Africa shared their experiences and lessons learnt with regards to online learning and course development. My presentation shared the lessons we learnt as we rolled out online/offline Technology Integration Courses for all of Malawi’s Teacher Training College lecturers during 2020 / 2021’.
Stalwart researcher, Dr Tarling also attended the highly acclaimed World Education Leadership Summit (WELSonline2021), hosted by various German universities, focused on e-Learning and issues related to leadership in education. Dr Tarling presented work-in-progress on a 10-year research journey into systemic change as part of the Green Shoots Maths Online programme that the Western Cape Education Department are rolling out across the province’s primary schools.
This was an experience to learn from and engage with the most inspiring and interesting people from around the world. Due to restrictions following the COVID pandemic, conferencing has gone virtual in the past year. In the past, international and many local conferences were generally attended by established academics with large research funds to pay for the international travel, expensive registration fees and accommodation costs. This mostly excluded academics from many developing countries where such luxuries as large research funds are non-existent. With Covid came so many changes to the world of higher education, and one of these has been virtual conferencing.
Dr Tarling at OpenEd21
Towards the end of October, Dr Tarling also attended what is arguably the best conference during 2021: The Open Education Conference or OpenEd21, hosted in America. It was her second year attending this inspiring and invigorating conference. Almost 2000 participants joined OpenEd21 for the week-long programme focusing on open education and how we as educators and students can purposefully adopt pedagogies of care and openness to include marginalized communities in learning journeys. A colleague from Mauritius, Sandya Gunnes, co-presented with Dr Tarling, their research into open education practices, assessment formats and self-directed learning in higher education across Africa. Although the conference ran from 3pm – 3am SA time many presenters had pre-recorded their presentations so participants could easily watch any number of the sessions whenever they could access it.