Integrating Technology in the Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education in Namibia: Is It an Effective Tool for Professional Development?

Integrating Technology in the Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education in Namibia: Is It an Effective Tool for Professional Development?

Katherine Carter, Michelle Maree, Geoffrey Shakwa
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2953-8.ch006
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Few studies have examined the use and impact of technology in professional development programs in higher education. The purpose of this chapter is to explore the significance of technology as a tool for professional development in a postgraduate program in higher education in Namibia. Framed in the interpretive paradigm, the study adopted a qualitative approach. Data were collected through an open-ended qualitative questionnaire distributed to participants in the first four weeks of the postgraduate program and a second time six months afterwards. The findings reveal that the use of the flipped classroom approach and the use of the reflective e-portfolio enhance the quality of teaching and learning in the delivery of the postgraduate program as well as in the participants' teaching practice.
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The factors that influence higher education worldwide include social, economic and political developments that include larger and more diverse student populations, shrinking resources for higher education, greater public accountability and competition among higher education institutions. These changes have transformed the role of academics in higher education (Quinn & Vorster, 2004). In fact in many universities, academics live in “a world of supercomplexity” (Barnett, 1994) where the very framework on which their profession is based is continuously in a state of fluctuation (Quinn & Vorster, 2004).

In response to these global changes, institutions of higher education have created and implemented professional development programs that foster the teaching and technical skills of academic staff. Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, for example, introduced the Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education and Training (PGCHET) in 2000. At Rhodes, most lecturers did not receive training for their role as teachers. Many lecturers were appointed based only on their academic qualifications and many joined the University directly from the private sector (Quinn & Vorster, 2004). A similar situation is apparent at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Technology (In Education): Facilitating teaching and learning with the purpose to improve quality through the creation, management and utilization of appropriate technological processes and resources.

PGCHE: The Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education is a structured professional development programme aimed at newly appointed lecturing staff, but also at seasoned lecturers to improve and refresh their teaching approaches and styles. This qualification is presented at the Namibia University of Science and Technology that forms the research group of this study.

Professional Development: Short-term or long-term opportunities for college or university professors to enhance their knowledge and application of skills in the areas of teaching, learning, assessment, technology and research.

Higher Education: Also known as tertiary education is the final and optional phase of education after the completion of school or secondary education where the subject is taught at an advanced level at often a university or college.

Reflective e-Portfolio: A powerful pedagogical tool that consists of a student’s evidence and or achievements of personal learning and development and allows for opportunity to think about what the student has learned and how the student can improve.

Facilitating Learning: A learning approach where students are encouraged to take ownership and control of their learning process and the role of the teacher changes from supplier of knowledge to facilitating the process of learning. This is done by providing learning resources and actively challenging students through systematic problem-based learning and other active learning methods.

Flipped Classroom: Also referred to as flipped learning. It is a blended approach to teaching and learning where study material, lectures and articles are made available for students before the class session and allows for learning activities in class to be engaging and to encourage active learning.

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