What does it take to continually level up your institution’s online teaching and learning strategy?
North-West University took a significant step forward in its online learning leadership by joining the OLC in 2016. This decision marked a pivotal moment in the institution’s commitment to innovation and excellence in teaching and learning. Through its membership, North-West University has fostered global collaboration through cutting-edge digital education, enriching the university’s academic landscape and positioning it as an education trailblazer in Africa.
Known for its support of pedagogical excellence, OLC often works with universities’ educator development departments. At North-West University, the Centre for Teaching and Learning fosters innovation in teaching, embracing a forward-thinking and global perspective. For example, with four main languages used across the North West province of South Africa, they are working to ensure all curriculum and content is multilingual. Joining the OLC community has enabled the Centre to seek new avenues for enhancing student success through access, equity, and open education.
Through the membership, thousands of the university’s faculty and staff access a library of high-quality workshops, webinars, and opportunities for comprehensive professional development. These knowledge sharing and upskilling opportunities have equipped educators with the latest practices and tools for creating engaging online learning experiences that foster critical thinking and encourage deep interaction through technology.
“Our educators share our enthusiasm because [our membership] aligns perfectly with our needs – it offers practical, focused, and accessible resources for teaching and learning,” says Retha Serfontein, a university senior academic developer. “The Online Learning Consortium has everything we need, from its [accessibility of resources] to the concise and manageable program durations.”
Membership especially proved instrumental in helping North-West University transition to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. When all courses needed to be moved exclusively online, Retha and her team turned to the OLC scorecard suite and rubric design for instructional design and online course development. Additionally, the OLC’s professional development has contributed to a holistic and continual learning progression that enhances participants’ overall understanding, helping them absorb and integrate diverse elements into their professional growth.
“The OLC membership has facilitated the integration of teaching and learning and led to a holistic progression in participants’ knowledge base,” shares Serfontein. “The courses offered, including the Online Learning Consortium’s Wolsey program, have contributed to a broader growth in understanding and transcending the traditional boundaries of individual courses.”
The Centre for Teaching and Learning supports students with a blended learning strategy, maintaining an effective balance between in-house workshops, webinars, and online learning experiences. As the digital era continues to reshape the way we learn, North-West University’s membership with OLC is helping equip its educators with the approaches that reflect the latest research and best practices. The upcoming focus of their Continuous Professional Learning for 2024-2026 will be digital transformation.
As the education landscape evolves, North-West University stands as a beacon of adaptability and innovation, proving that integrating online and blended learning isn’t merely a response to crises (like a pandemic) – but instead a pathway for elevating education.