thinking beyond



Monday, November 30, 2020

8:00 AM

Virtual event


30 November - 03 December 2020 | Bloemfontein, South Africa


2020 HELTASA programme (PDF), 24 November 2020


Higher Education globally, particularly in South Africa, continues to face challenges relating to learning spaces that affect both teachers and students. This means that teachers in schools and in Higher education institutions must relook the way they interact and engage with learners and students, respectively. These existing challenges have now been compounded by the Coronavirus pandemic. This necessitates that Higher Education institutions rethink the delivery of their curricula as well as different ways of interacting and engaging students using diverse learning spaces and platforms. Face to face interaction is gradually being replaced by virtual or remote learning as schools and higher education institutions must abide by the requirements of social distancing imposed by the various governments to curb the spread of the deadly virus. COVID-19 has added to the woes South African Higher Education is already experiencing and it needs a concerted effort to all those involved in education to address these problems to ensure delivery of quality education for all.          

Morieson, Murray, Wilson, Clarke and Lukas (2018) advocate for university campuses to provide spaces that facilitate the formation of communities of practice and enable greater communication, interaction and collaboration in different contexts. Higher Education within the context of the coronavirus pandemic requires even greater and more systematic collaboration between Education systems globally and within Southern Africa. As argued by Barnett (2000) the context of Higher Education is “supercomplex” and necessitates learning spaces where students can cope with the radical changes taking place in the world especially within universities. In line with this argument, the coronavirus pandemic in South Africa currently calls for accelerated ways of expanding access and responsiveness to emerging skills and knowledge need, an idea which was initially advocated by the South African Ministry of Higher Education, through its Higher Education Qualification Sub-Framework (2013). South Africa is still grappling with widening access to higher education, and increased numbers of students entering higher education, the majority of whom come from poor educational backgrounds. Such varied educational backgrounds have widened the articulation gap from secondary to tertiary education (Chetty and Pather, 2015).  This means that the university teachers need to be equipped with the necessary skills to cater for the needs of the diverse student population (Heagney and Marr 2013).

The coronavirus pandemic is not only challenging the teaching and learning approaches but has exposed South Africa’s inequalities in the allocation of resources between universities as well as the readiness of universities to cater for students and lecturers who, because of their backgrounds and circumstances, do not have access to technological devices. In the process of moving from traditional classroom teaching to remote or virtual teaching and learning these inequalities must be addressed.

University teachers should be encouraged to reevaluate their teaching strategies and use innovative approaches that will enable all the students to equally participate and learn effectively. As observed by Kozinskiy (2017), there are students who are not interested in attending class, listening to a lecture, and memorizing for examinations but they want to be challenged and engaged in the learning process. Innovative approaches should be considered in a broader sense to include curriculum transformation, assessment and evaluation of learning and teaching in different modes and contexts, including the coronavirus pandemic context. It is important to create learning spaces where both university teachers and students can co-create knowledge that will empower students to contribute to their society and economy. Morieson et al, (2018) suggest that universities should position students not as passive consumers but as active participants and co‐creators of their university experience. Hence, Case (2015: 31) argues for the significance of having “a depth of intellectual leadership in higher education that will allow us to build institutions that are truly public spaces that build emergent citizenship and belonging for all students”. In line with this argument, HELTASA 2020 conference aims to present an opportunity for academics in Southern Africa to hold conversations on how to “create enabling learning spaces for all”. These conversations will be in line with HELTASA’s mission of promoting “teaching as a scholarly, responsive and legitimate engagement in the context of inclusion and upliftment in higher education practice…” and will attempt to respond to the following questions:

  • To what extent have universities transformed their curricula to cater for the diverse student population?
  • How can innovative teaching strategies challenge the existing learning spaces in higher education?
  • How can teachers and lecturers be supported to create learning spaces where different communities can learn and share knowledge?
  • To what extent are university teachers ready to embrace the fourth industrial revolution?
  • How can educational technologies, be used to facilitate and enrich students’ learning experiences especially during uncertain times?


  • Curriculum responsiveness in a changing higher education environment.
  • Integrating the traditional classroom with other learning spaces within the context of the coronavirus.
  • Promoting interaction, collaboration, and engagement through flexible learning spaces and during uncertain times.
  • Transition from traditional to innovative learning spaces / technology-enabled learning spaces.
  • Managing diversity and inclusion in online learning spaces during uncertain times such as the coronavirus pandemic.

Register to Attend

Go to the HELTASA website to register and attend

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