Communities of Practice Address Online Teaching and Learning

The Teaching and Learning Committee in the College of Health Sciences (CHS) launched a series of communities of practice presentations. The first such webinar was held on 10 June 2020 to share and discuss best practice experience in online teaching and learning.

The event, which attracted academics and professionals in the fraternity, was facilitated by an Academic Leader of Teaching and Learning for School of Health Sciences, Dr Diane van Staden, and the Academic Leader of Teaching and Learning for School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, Dr Pamela Pillay.

In opening, the Dean of Teaching and Learning at CHS, Professor Sinegugu Duma, said online teaching and learning was not a new concept in UKZN, but as part of communities of practice initiative, it was important for colleagues to share best practices and experiences on how they have embraced online teaching and learning in the midst of COVID-19, stressing that while emergency online teaching and learning may be seen as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, by default is becoming the future.

‘This sharing platform is intended to create a conversation as we navigate the online teaching and learning space, and share our experiences on what works and what doesn’t work,’ said Duma. ‘We have to learn and grow together. Most importantly as teachers we need to prepare ourselves as academics and also prepare our students. We have no choice but to start somewhere and apply student-centred approaches using all the resources at our disposal. Collectively and successfully we can own this online teaching and learning space.’

Pillay said although students may encounter challenges in online teaching, it has become imperative to brainstorm and share methods that worked well.

Webinar participants shared their experiences on tips that have worked for them during the dry-run of online teaching weeks in response to facilitation questions posed by Pillay.

Said van Staden: ‘Our students need to understand the new online teaching and learning approaches and know exactly what is expected of them prior to and after classes. Together we have to embrace this paradigm shift. This is work in progress – collectively we will adapt and improve.’

This was the first of many series of communities of practice webinars to follow. During this session, participants were asked to send in their topics for future discussions and were encouraged to participate in the next following sharing sessions.

Words: Lihle Sosibo

Photograph: Shutterstock