Conference Theme

The theme of TLC2020 is Shifting academic identities. The rollout of emergency remote teaching displaced academics from the classroom and decentred their role in teaching and learning.  Many academics had to acquire new skills and overcome a variety of fears and misgivings about online delivery. The levels of support required by students in the context of emergency remote teaching have been much greater than in the usual face to face setting. Academics have responded to these needs in new and inventive ways.  All of this has meant an enormous investment of time in teaching. Many academics have remarked that if research is also going to be delivered this level of engagement in teaching and learning  is not sustainable.  What is the meaning of these experiences for the ways that academics think of themselves, of their fields of expertise, of their relationship with their students, and their role at the university? How could/should these experiences influence the manner in which we think about academic identity into the future? How do we shape academic identity in a post-COVID world ?


  • Engaging the social -  What do our attempts to address endemic social challenges highlighted by the emergency remote teaching  mean for how we see ourselves as academics and our scope for future action?
  • Curriculum -  How do our roles and identities need to change so students can be at the centre of our work? This could include issues of  socially responsive and decolonised curricula and new approaches to assessment.
  • Pedagogy - How has emergency remote teaching changed how we teach and how we see ourselves as academics? How do we ensure that our course design and classroom practices include and engage all of our students?
  • Care and Sustainability - What kinds of institutional and peer support are needed to sustain UCT academics on our journeys of change? How can UCT and academics best support students with the challenges that they are facing?
  • Professional development -  What do our shifts in academic roles and identities mean for the professional development of UCT academics who are engaged in teaching?
  • Research? Competing identities? The realities of emergency remote teaching have heightened tensions between research and teaching roles in the lives of academics. Can these roles support each other?

Keynotes                                                                                                          Keynote workshop


Associate Professor Lis Lange - UCT Deputy Vice Chancellor: Teaching and Learning

De-centring the academic. Preliminary reflections on academic identity and the university in the 21st century.

In the context of contact universities the management of the COVID-19 pandemic through remote teaching has touched on the identity of academics through changes in their roles: they had to prioritise teaching over research, performed new roles, and learnt new skills. But also they have to redefine their sense of self and their relationship with students in a new set of space and time coordinates.

Although #RMF and COVID-related remote teaching happened in the context of broader trajectory of change in the academic identity, they represent a much deeper and sudden process of decentring academics. That is of moving academics out of the centre stage. Away from their epistemological space, away from the physical space of the classroom and away from the linear time of the pedagogic relationship.

How do we understand this? How do we read what happens at the university in the context of what is happening to the world? What are the pitfalls and opportunities of a process of de-centring academic identity and the very identity of the university?


Maha Bali, Associate Professor of Practice at the Center for Learning and Teaching at the American University in Cairo

Workshop: Shifts in Academic Practices As We Rethink the Purpose of Education

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many academics to question what is most valuable about the education offered by our universities, and what the purpose of university education is.  What is gained and what is lost when we can no longer meet in the same physical space, and what have we been overlooking in our universities that we need to start prioritizing? How have our roles as academics changed? As we start asking these questions, we need to also ask how these changed perceptions and beliefs about the purpose of university education will influence who we bring to the table to enact the values and principles we deem most important, and how our structures and practices will evolve in order to help achieve this purpose.

As a facilitator I value processes such as those in the Liberating Structures microstructures that enhance dialogue/conversations, which will help me to unleash the creativity and brilliance of everyone in the room, and to ensure that all voices can be heard. This workshop will use a Liberating Structure called Purpose to Practice, to engage participants in small group collaborative problem-posing/solving, to explore how the pandemic has influenced their beliefs about the purpose of university education and key principles it should embody/promote, followed by steps towards sharing and creating practices that will assist academics to meet that rethought purpose.

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Conference Programme