New academics at Rhodes University are spending more than a week engaged in learning of their own. Mostly aimed at those new to teaching in higher education environments, this Centre for Higher Education Teaching & Learning (CHERTL) initiative aims to explore what being an academic means.
“All academics new to Rhodes are strongly encouraged to attend the Academic Orientation Programme (AOP). The programme is focused on ‘Being an academic at Rhodes’ in general and supporting spaces of teaching and learning in particular,” said Professor Jo-Anne Vorster, Head of CHERTL.
The first week’s activities, which run from 21-25 January includes in-depth introductions to the University’s three pillars; teaching and learning, research, and community engagement. These introductions will be led by Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Academic & Student Affairs Dr Chrissie Boughey, Director of Research Jaine Roberts and Director of Community Engagement Di Hornby, respectively.
During the week, last year’s winners of the Vice-Chancellor (VC) Awards will have a chance to share their experiences at Rhodes University. This includes VC’s Teaching Award winner Joyce Sewry, VC’s Research Award winners Dr Sally Matthews and Professor Russell Kaschula and VC’s Community Engagement Award winner, Professor Jacqui Akhurst.
Other sessions cover topics such as institutional culture, university governance, staff unions, supporting teaching and learning, research visibility and communications and advancement. There will also be a ‘meet the deanery’ session as well as a campus walking tour.
Topics aimed specifically at academics include: ‘What are your teaching and learning challenges?’, ‘How does learning happen?’, ‘What makes a good lecture?’, ‘Emerging interest related to teaching and learning’, and ‘Identifying areas for enhancement of teaching and learning’.
“As part of its staff development function, CHERTL helps to support the orientation of academics new to Rhodes University. Orientation is viewed as a process that is continuous, based on the idea that we are constantly learning and adapting to our roles and responsibilities,” Vorster explained.
Following the first week, the programme will offer a three-day teaching with technology forum scheduled for 30 January to 2 February, where online learning, learning the University’s software, and online communication and collaboration will be explored.
Rhodes Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, who welcomed new academics to the University, said, “This is a special community. A community of academics and scholars who are committed and dedicated to learning and discovery; a community driven by a passion to create, apply and disseminate knowledge. And this is the community you have chosen to be part of – thank you for that.”