HELTASA 2018 Conference: Announcement and Call for Abstracts

Both globally and nationally, there are many waves of change that Higher Education (HE) institutions need to navigate at the moment. Some of these are – fee-free higher education; financial sustainability in the face of shrinking government funding; producing graduates that function effectively in a globalised, connected world but who are also locally relevant; including the student’s voice; and decolonisation and transformation of curricula, academia and academic spaces.

In the light of this, the theme that was chosen for the 2018-2020 Ministerial Statement on the Implementation of the University Capacity Development Programme through Effective Management and Utilisation of the University Capacity Development Grant is very fitting; namely:

“Transforming teaching, learning, researching and leading

towards enhanced quality, success and equity in universities”

Through scholarly presentations and conversations around how learning and teaching are being transformed at our universities, this conference aims to stimulate and disrupt thinking and paradigms, and gain insight into promising innovations in response to some of the HE waves of change.

Complexity science literature suggests that it is no longer fruitful to manage and drive change in the conventional, linear, mechanistic ways – by generating a strategic priority, determining a course of action and implementing it to achieve predetermined outcomes. Instead, new paradigms and novel approaches are needed to effect transformative change in a living system such as a university. In complex, uncertain times that demand new ways of being and doing, a non-linear theory of change and paradigms related to complexity and a living systems approach, provide new perspectives for organisational transformation.

Working in these new paradigms and approaches unlocks shared envisioning and then requires acting collectively and creatively in fluid and sometimes ‘messy’ ways by ‘dancing with systems’ (Meadows, n.d.) to bring about transformation. By focusing on change and transformation with new lenses/paradigms, conference presentations and conversations can provide insight into how academics, academic development professionals and academic leaders are dancing on the waves of change in innovative and creative ways to systemically and organically transform learning and teaching.


When preparing scholarly presentations for the conference, presenters should focus on change and transformation in HE that dances to one or a combination of the rhythms below.

Responsive Curricula, and Curriculum and Career Pathways

  • Curriculum frameworks and design
  • Designing curricula and career pathways for academic success and work readiness
  • Learning design, which includes using technology in L&T
  • Including the student voice in curriculum and learning design

Relevant Pedagogies and Assessment approaches

  • New/responsive pedagogies (e.g., humanising pedagogy; pedagogy of hope)
  • Lecturer-student relationship: collaboration, voice and agency
  • Student diversity and inclusivity
  • Authentic Assessment and assessment for learning
  • Online/e-assessment

Student Access and Success

  • Knowing who our students are
  • Access and foundational/extended programmes
  • Student development and support initiatives (including peer-led and online initiatives)
  • Co-curricular learning and programmes
  • Academic literacies (including digital and financial literacy development)

Learning Analytics to inform transformative teaching, learning and support

  • Systems to track student progress
  • Generating and communicating learning analytics to enhance student success
  • Empowering staff to use learning analytics to enhance teaching, & student support & success

Leadership to respond to complexity and uncertainty in novel ways

  • Leadership development
  • Theoretical and research-informed perspectives on leading and managing change
  • Case studies that provide examples of leading in complex, uncertain times

Transformative teaching development across the academic career trajectory

  • Conceptualising teaching development across the career trajectory of academics
  • Teaching development approaches, initiatives, programmes and qualifications
  • Reviewing and rewarding teaching
  • Evaluating teaching and teaching development outcomes

Invitation to submit an Abstract

You are invited to submit an abstract for the scholarly contribution that you would like to make at the 2018 HELTASA conference. Details regarding the types of presentations and the submission of abstracts are provided below.

Types of Presentations

  1. Oral paper (20 min): Ongoing or completed work which may include critical reflection, an emerging conceptual understanding/perspective/ idea/theoretical argument or reporting on a research study.
  2. Flipped paper (30 min): Scholarly paper made available online to conference participants before the session. The presenter then introduces key points made in the paper and provides a set of questions to stimulate discussion and dialogue with and among attendees.
  3. Practitioner presentations (20 min): An innovation introduced in a module/programme/development initiative indicating what prompted it, what you did and whether this was based on theory/research, student reactions, self-reflections, lessons learned, its impact and potential scalability.
  4. Critical dialogue (60 min): Discussion on a specific topic related to one or a combination of the conference rhythms by a panel of experts, followed by a group dialogue.
  5. Digital Poster presentation: Posters depicting a work-in-progress using text and graphics that are concise and thought-provoking. Posters will only be displayed digitally during a specific session. Presenters will have one minute to give a pitch about their work to attendees and will be available for discussion and questions thereafter.
  6. Pre-Conference Workshop (range from 120 to 240 min): A hands-on workshop on a topic related to one or a combination of the conference rhythms. Participants are actively involved in the session. Workshops will take place on 20 November.

Abstract Submission

All authors and researchers interested in making a scholarly contribution at the conference are invited to submit an abstract by following the procedure described on the Heltasa2018 information website, found at http://heltasa2018.mandela.ac.za/. An Abstract Form in MS Word can be downloaded from the website. This form can be used for the six different types of contributions that can be made at the conference. Only abstracts submitted by email to conference@sereni-t.co.za will be accepted.

Important dates

  • 29 June: Deadline for submission of abstracts (first call)
  • 30 June: Closing date for Early Bird registration
  • 16 July: Second call for abstracts
  • 31 July: Notification of acceptance of abstracts (first call)
  • 14 August: Deadline for submission of abstracts (second call)
  • 14 September: Notification of acceptance of abstracts (second call)
  • 15 September: Closing date for Registration
  • 15 October: Closing date for Late Registration

Additional information

Information regarding the venues where the conference will be held on the South campus of Nelson Mandela University in Summerstrand, the city of Port Elizabeth, accommodation, the conference programme and keynote speakers will be made available and updated from time to time on the conference website http://heltasa2018.mandela.ac.za/.

For more information contact the conference organisers on conference@sereni-t.co.za.