This series of position papers from the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching at the University of Cape Town draws on professional and research experience to provide overviews of key issues in higher education. Each paper locates the issue within an international context, grounds it in a South African location, offers concrete recommendations for implementation, and makes suggestions for further reading. They are available from the OpenUCT repository:

Digital Literacies

The conceptualisation of digital literacies is now shifting focus from a “capabilities and consumption” notion of technology, to a notion of technology use for academic practices and contributions to production. This paper highlights the importance of contextualising digital literacies within disciplinary contexts by embedding them in courses or subjects.

Hands typing image CC BY-SA by Rondine Carstens

Colored Pencils image CC BY-SA by


ePortfolios are used to engage in learning processes and to collect and organise forms of digital evidence (artefacts) that demonstrate learning outcomes, skills and competencies. This paper describes the characteristics of ePortfolios, differentiates forms of online showcasing confused with ePortfolios, and presents a regional perspective on local uptake of ePortfolios across Higher Education Institutions in the Western Cape.


MOOCs are flexible and free online learning courses designed for mass participation. MOOC platforms provide institutions with cloud-based hosting environments for delivering courses, offering scale and functionality, while the institution provides the course material and reputational value. Although there are no fees or entry requirements for access and no formal academic credit, MOOC platform providers often offer certificates of completion at a cost. This paper discusses the key aspects of MOOCs in a South African educational context.

MOOC Landscape image CC BY-SA by Rondine Carstens

Lolly sticks with text.jpg image CC BY-SA by Polimerek (Flickr)

Open Educational Resources

OERs are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and/or re-purposing by others. This paper highlights specific OER affordances as well as their associated costs and particular cost reduction possibilities, and offers recommendations for their adoption in higher education institutions, set against the current trends internationally.

Personal Mobile Devices and Laptops as learning tools

PMDs and laptops can be used to enhance learning, and rather than viewing them only as distractions, course activities and assignments can be designed to use them to deepen students’ engagement. This paper considers the use of these technologies in higher education learning environments, examines the affordances of these devices both in and beyond the classroom, and provides an overview of current uses in South African universities, where such initiatives are still relatively novel.

Mobile Devices and Laptops image  CC BY-SA by Nicola Pallitt


This work has been slightly adapted from the original which originally appeared in the HESA series: Kilfoil, W.R. (Ed.). (2015). Moving beyond the hype: a contextualized view of learning with technology in higher education. Higher Education South Africa - HESA licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY)