Academic Development Special Interest Group

Academic Development Special Interest Group

The AD Directors SIG recognizes that the work of AD and AD leaders should be informed by policies, research, and practices. These elements influence each other highlighting the importance of each element in AD work. The field of AD has been in existence for years in South Africa focusing mainly on providing support to black students who were accepted to Historically Advantaged Institutions (HAI). With the developments in higher education the role of AD and academic developers has evolved focusing on transformation, decolonisation, and recently emergency remote teaching/hybrid learning and teaching due to the Covid19 pandemic. The AD Leaders (ADL) are expected to lead in the drastic changing roles of the ADs and the HE contexts. The ADL SIG aims to provide the AD Leaders an opportunity to (voluntarily) work together in responding to the SAHE transformative imperatives.

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To support the new strategic direction of HELTASA, aligning it with the goal of being responsive, relevant and resilient, this project will focus will be on three main themes 1) Academic developer identity 2) Evolution of AD in the South African HE sector: where to from here? And 3) Pedagogies. The first theme will focus on debates that are ongoing in the sector about the status of Academic Developers within the HE space. Here we question the disparities that exist within the system where AD practitioners are either appointed as academic or support staff. We explore and engage with members within the HE sector to interrogate how all AD practitioners can gain recognition as academics within their respective institutions.

We explore different methods that can be used for capacity development. In the second theme, we question the knowledge that is privileged within the AD field and explore how theories/knowledges from the global South can be acknowledged and included in the field of AD. In this project we anticipate collaboration with NIG on decolonisation. The final theme will focus on pedagogies in the context of the Covid19 pandemic, we question the notion of teaching excellence, we also explore the notions of epistemic and ontological access for learning and teaching conducted online. We further question the notion of assessment integrity online in a context where students face data and connectivity challenges. Collaboration with other SIGs and other members within the HE sector will be possible as there is overlap. A dialogue approach will be used to address matters that have emerged within the different themes using the notion of “LETSEMA”. LETSEMA is a Sesotho/Tswana word that is used in the agriculture context, the word means voluntary working together for a common goal to ensure sustainability.

We view the work that will be conducted in this HELTASA SIG as voluntary work that requires collaboration for the greater good of the HE sector in the SADC region and Africa. As we prepare for the 2021 HELTASA conference the ADL SIG will use different approaches (online) to unpack the issues raised within the themes to embrace the notion on un-conferencing.

Project Manager

Project Manager

Dr Ntsoaki Malebo - CUT

Scholarly Practitioner

Scholarly Practitioner

Muntuwenkosi Chili - VUT

Scholarly Researcher

Scholarly Researcher

Luyanda Marhaya - CHE

Scholarly Practitioner

Scholarly Practitioner

Siyabulela Sabata - UWC



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The Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA) is a professional association for educators and other significant role-players in the tertiary sector.

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