Thursday, September 8, 2011

A week of writing

Sixteen members of the Faculty decided to spend the September recess writing.  We checked into Goedgedacht Farm on Monday 5 September, and started with a slice of Mic Barnes's "Death by Chocolate" cake to celebrate my birthday.
Then we quickly moved into our rooms and before lunch we had all settled down to a good dose of writing.  I managed to finish the article that Farivar Rahimi and I received back from Educational Technology and Society more than a year ago, and to resubmit it.  Ayesha and Thabisa decided to split their original paper and develop three articles from it. Rael and Jay are converting conference papers into articles for peer-reviewed journals.  Mic is working on her proposal. Amanda, Jannie, Diane and Beverley are catching up on their Masters' theses.  Eddie is working on multiple papers. Laban is making sense of his PhD and Monica is writing an piece for James Garraway's booklet, as well as for an international journal.
Andy Bytheway provided really valuable insights on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  In fact on Tuesday he ran the show when Rael and I did a workshop on incubation in the Fringe.
Wednesday was one of those rare Cape winter days when the temperature rises to 30 degrees, and we chose  mid day for a "Cool walk" through the Eco-village.  What started off as a 30 minute stroll ended up taking two hours, but it was fantastic.
Today, (Thursday) is cold, rainy and misty.  So we are all crammed into the living room of the main house and working in deathly silence, except for the furious rattle of notebook keys.
It is amazing the levels of concentration people can reach. It is amazing the levels of energy that can be felt in complete silence.
I wish I had done this two years ago when I first wanted to.
I wish I could do one once a month.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The big walk

So there we were - marching down Roeland Street dressed as Batman.
This was Marian Pike's inspired idea to consolidate the Faculty's participation in projects in "The Fringe: Cape Town's innovation district".
It was part of the revamped Faculty Training Day.  The Faculty has six training days per year.  The purpose of these days is for us to get to know each other, to find out about events at the University and to improve our skills levels related to our jobs.
Other highlights of the day included presentations by Mr Pieter Mathews who presented a stunning slideshow of architectural works by his firm, Mathews and Associates. Then there was Prof Matti Tedre who talked about the gentle art of academic publishing. There were also presentations about first aid, photography and learning styles.
The next training day will centre around improved teaching an learning, to prepare us for the re-curriculation and restructuring of the faculty as well as the the next round of Institutional Reviews by the Higher Education Quality Committee.  Once again, though, the focus should be on keeping the training days exciting and meaningful.  Thanks to all involved in making this one so special.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

You gotta love it when a plan comes together...

This is the beginning of my 4th calendar year at CPUT.  I arrived in July 2007, so although I've only been here for three and a half years, it is technically the beginning of year four.
And it is so good to see how a couple of things are beginning to fall in place.
From the outset there was just one aim - increasing research output.  There were two constraints - knowledge of how to do research, and time in which to do it.
We starded with increasing the knowledge about doing research.  The first initiative was a Faculty research day in 2007. On this followed the creation of the Postgraduate Research Programme (PRP) which started its life as an evening programme, and now lives on as a hybrid of evening programmes and block sessions. A number of supervisors have started seeing their students on a Monday or Thursday evening every week to engage in community-building and peer-support activities. The STING group, staff working on post-graduate studies,  which has been going strong for a some years now has a sister in DRAW - the Design Research Action Workshop, run by  Alettia and Mugendi. Then there's also Muthoni's group in Grahpic Design.
But the most ambitious project is the Design, Development and Research conference planned for 23 - 27 September. Check out
In terms of teaching and learning Graphic Design led the way by harmonising the offering on both campuses, while IT led the country in developing a suite of programmes aligned to the new HEQF. Next steps will be re-designing the whole faculty offerings.  Work on this started last year with wide consultation in the Faculty. Now industry consultation will follow.  On 17 February there will be a Faculty training day dedicated to Curriculum Design, and on 7 and 8 March there will be a two-day curriculum design workshop for selected delegates.  The highlight of the teaching and learning project in the Faculty was undoubtedly the WTF Media conference run by PR.  This was an excellent example of breaking the barriers between academic and industry and of allowing actual practitioners to share with students some of their experiences of real life...
Of course, one cannot talk about streamlining teaching and learning without considering workplace learning and here again great strides have been made with IT running a pre-incubator in Roeland Street, and various community engagement, work-integrated learning co-operative learning and service learning projects.  The highlight of the Faculty's community engagement is undoubtedly the East City Design Intitiative, a partnership between the Faculty and the City, through the Cape Town Partnership and Creative Capetown.  The first phase is now complete with the naming of the area as "The Fringe: Cape Town's Innovation District"
With the Cape Craft and Design Institute, the Bandwidth Barn and the Fashion Council already in the Fringe the Faculty's presence is being consolidated.  This must lead to amazing synergies in future.
Watch this space...