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Digital education

Phoenix Project – Visiting the University of Namibia

21 April 2017
Image of UNAM

by Dewi Parry

Recently, Matt Smith (WCPPE, School of Pharmacy), Karl Luke (Learn Plus Project, University IT) and I were very fortunate to be invited to take part on the Phoenix Project, a partnership between Cardiff University and the University of Namibia (UNAM) to reduce poverty and promote healthier societies.

Led by Professor Judith Hall from the School of Medicine, the Phoenix Project is a Cardiff University Flagship Engagement Project. Our team of three would visit UNAM’s Centre for Open, Distance and eLearning (CODeL), led by Director, Dr Maggy Beukes-Amiss.


Community of Practice - UNAM

There were several themes that UNAM were keen to explore during our visit, of which I’ve highlighted a few, including the use of video for teaching and learning, developing and sharing good practice, and increasing digital capabilities.

UNAM have recently adopted the Moodle VLE, which enables their students to access course materials at any time, from any device that has internet access. It also supports blended learning, which enables a combination of both face to face learning as well as online activities, to facilitate anytime/anyplace learning. There is also great interest in the flipped classroom model, where an online activity is introduced prior to a face to face session, freeing up contact time to take a deeper dive into the content. UNAM are particularly interested in the use of video to facilitate this, and have also invested in the Panopto video platform, which enables staff to create learning materials and for student to access them anytime, via the internet.

Video in Higher Education

UNAM Video and pedagogy session

One of the main themes of the visit was around the use of video in Higher Education. Being the Learning Technologist for the Panopto rollout and implementation, Karl Luke led these activities. We attended the Panopto training session on the first morning, delivered by Andre Joubert, gave us a great grounding and understanding of the current state of play with Panopto within UNAM.

Over the first week, the main work around video included:

  • Delivering a successful “Video and Pedagogy” workshop;
  • Delivering a UNAM Panopto training session;
  • Delivering a consultation around innovation spaces for video and upscaling adoption;
  • Delivering key recommendations to the CODeL team around support and developments;
  • Delivering a conference recording using Panopto, demonstrating how to record key events and engagement activities within the University.

Karl has written a post based on this theme and his work during our visit -“Video and Pedagogy“.

Community of Practice

UNAM Community of Practice

Another main theme of the visit was around developing and disseminating good practice in relation to use of Learning Technology. With a community of practice developed within Cardiff, I shared the journey of establishing a Learning Technology Community of Practice within Cardiff University.  I discussed considerations and ideas around setting up a community within UNAM, and then we followed on with presentations by community members around their current work, projects and interests:

  • Karl Luke – Transitioning from small-scale use of video in teaching to University-wide adoption, using ADKAR;
  • Pamela February – Graphogame: A reading acquisition tool for learners;
  • Christoffer Mässing – Success factors and challenges for elearning technologies in the Higher Education system of Namibia;
  • Gerhold Kooper – LMS Systems Administration;
  • Matt Smith – The role of a HE Learning Technologist;

Personally, it was great to see so many different roles represented at the community meeting – Tutors, Librarians, Administrators, Learning Technologists, Technicians. The hope is that the #UNAMCOP will continue and thrive, and we’re looking forward to hearing about developments. For further information on the meeting, please visit our Storify page.

Visitors and Residents

Since Prensky’s term – “Digital Native” has been debunked (also by Prensky himself), there has been a drive to look at more useful frameworks to describe and analyse people’s motivations to engage with technology and information. Instead of pigeonholing or labelling people – the young and the old, and the assumptions that arise, a new framework has been developed to depict how the preferences and habits of learners motivate engagement with technology and the web. This framework is called Visitors and Residents and is a continuum developed by JISC, with two modes of online engagement at either end – “Visitors” and “Residents”.

UNAM Visitors and Residents session

This workshop, led by Matt Smith, involved the participants mapping their digital practice out on paper, and then discussing their maps in pairs and then with the whole group. The exercise can be carried out by teams, departments or at an institutional level (where it can be used as a starting point for digital strategies, policy and evaluating digital services), but this session was focussed on the individuals’ practice, and the comparison between their on-line practice and their peers.

Further Sessions

We also delivered further presentations and discussions around several themes:

  • CPD for learning technology professionals;
  • DigiCap Cardiff (Digital Capabilities);
  • Introduction to mobile learning;
  • Online facilitation;
  • eAssessment;
  • Print to digital – distance learning.

In addition to working with the eLearning Team, we were also very pleased to be able to spend time with the Distance Learning Team within CODeL, who have began their journey moving their distance learning provision from print towards digital delivery. It was a learning curve for us to learn about their systems and expertise.

Thank you

There are several people who we’d like to thank for arranging and organising our visit and our travel. A big thank you to Nicola and Catrin from the Phoenix project for arranging our visit, to Saara Kamati for organising our logistics and Anneliese Groenewald for organising our diaries and events while at UNAM. Thanks to Maggy Beukes-Amiss, Erkkie Haipinge, the CODeL eLearning and Distance Learning Teams for their welcome and their time. Finally, a massive thank you to Judith Hall, for giving us the opportunity to visit such an inspiring institution and an amazing part of the world.

Further Posts

Karl Luke: Video and Pedagogy

Matt Smith: Visitors and Residents – University of Namibia