Uncertainties and Ambiguities of (Re)Learning to Teach in Contexts of Crises
This presentation advances an argument around the need for (re)learning to teach in the context of crises and the multifarious challenges that are entangled therein, given the COVID-19 crisis, and the rapid implementation of virtual technologies for teaching and learning. I invoke the notion of ‘empty signifiers’ to explain the ascendancy of technology in education which is shrouded in fear and panic, making higher education vulnerable totechnological opportunism of big techno-corporates,who have become the biggest beneficiaries of the education-in-crisis discourse, some of which have found in universities a lucrative marketplace to ply off-the-shelf solutions and customized learning management systems. Without fully comprehending its capabilities, limits and challenges, blended learning became a new addition to the pedagogy lexicon and a catch-phrase for being current. In the same way that we were seduced by the promise of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ (4IR), ‘e-learning’ has become the new mantra of higher education, based on minimal evidence of its real value.On the contrary, recent studies, eg.Selwyn, (2007) reveal a sobering view of the use of technology in higher education. It is neither used optimally nor perceived positively for creative and productive outputs. In these studies, computer technology is viewed as generating linear thinking and hindering creativity. More troubling, are the findings of a ten-year longitudinal study by Englund, Olofsson and Price (2017). Their main finding is that experienced higher education teachers are resistant to change. This is of concern because it means that there is a significant group of professionals who will continue to teach as if all platforms are the same, accompanied by a reluctance to (re)learn.Our willingness to defer to the authority of educational technologists who believe that online education practices are an act of salvation to the so-called ‘educational apocalypse’ is disturbing. Such a view frames technological innovation as a response to education in crisis rather than the intrinsic value and opportunities it offers to respond to the ubiquity of technology. However, in this presentation, rather than bemoan the ‘lethargy of the laggards’, I offer a tried and tested model of professional development to catalyse (Re)Learning to Teach in Contexts of Crises. The CLIP (Continuous Loop of Institutional Development) model, ascribes co-responsibility to the university to support academics with internalising alternative pedagogies as they liberate themselves from the shackles of the apprenticeship of observation.
Keywords - Virtual Technologies; Empty Signifiers; Techno Corporates; Professional Development