Narrowing the geographical divide: a critical reflection of an accordance of the Covid-19 pandemic for collaborative professional learning and development

Fontaine-Rainen, Danny
De Klerk, Danie
Frade, Nelia
Ramrung, Arthi
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HELTASA (Higher Education Learning & Teaching Association of Southern Africa)
Globally, Covid-19 has disrupted practices within higher education forcing us to relook at how we engage, what we do and how we do things. The pandemic has changed how we teach and how our students learn. It has also changed the way we, as professionals working in higher education, do our work including how we interact with each other. While much has been taken away from our lived experiences and daily realities because of the need to live carefully and safely for ourselves and others, there are some very real, innovative, and genuine accordances that Covid-19 has promoted that provide current realities and future possibilities that are quite different from our past experiences. In this critical reflection we explore how we – four individuals from different universities across South Africa working together on the Student Learning Scholarly Project (SLSP) of the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA) – are communicating, collaborating, and learning in ways where, among other things, geography no longer matters. In spite of our physical separation, we are able to work together in ways that create and maintain momentum, generate a plethora of new ideas for consideration and action, and in many ways, produce more materials and products to enhance the student experience of higher education in South Africa. We will consider and reflect on what this different way of working means to us, both individually and collectively and what it means for higher education for the now and for the future.
Professional learning, Community of practice, Collaborative engagement, Geography