At the start of the COVID19-induced lockdown, academics in traditional contact institutions like the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) had to engage digital technologies commensurate with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) to prepare students for the world of work. Besides facilitating the development of disciplinary expertise, academics, including those in the School of Education (SoE) at UKZN, were expected to engage students with technological and other cross-functional skills needed to succeed as global citizens in a digitized society. Cross-functional skills such as critical thinking, innovative and creative thinking, analysis and problem-solving abilities, and interpersonal skills enable tomorrow’s transformed workforce to create a more cohesive and productive world amid exponential technological advancements. However, the extent to which academics in the SoE are developing teachers with requisite TPACK (Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge) and other cross-functional skills remains largely uncertain. Premised on the theories of connectivism and TPACK, a mixed-method research approach using data from questionnaires distributed to all 130 academics in the SoE will be employed to understand how academics prepare future teachers for the digitized 4IR classrooms. Thereafter, zoom recordings from class observations of six undergraduate courses representing each disciplinary cluster of the SoE will be analysed thematically to assess academics’ online pedagogical practices in developing tomorrow’s teachers. The sampled courses will include discipline-specific content modules and teaching method modules. The outcome of this research will provide valuable insights to academics, especially those in teacher education regarding their pedagogical pursuit, the SoE in their quest to produce teachers fit for the 4IR classroom, and the scholarship of digital transformation in general.
Dr. Orhe Arek-Bawa – With over fifteen years of experience in corporate Accounting, Dr. Orhe Arek-Bawa is currently a post-doctoral fellow in the School of Education of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her research pursuit, which draws from her doctoral studies, dwells in the fields of assessment, cognitive demand, and textbooks within the domain of Accounting education. More recently, her research focus has expanded and now includes Digital Transformation in Higher Education in the light of the 4th industrial revolution; the development, use, and adoption of electronic textbooks; and virtual learning.
Prof. Sarasvathie Reddy is an Associate Professor in the discipline of Higher Education Studies and the Academic Leader of the Education and Development Studies Cluster at the School of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her research and teaching focus on diversity in higher education, curriculum development and design, doctoral education, academic staff and student development and assessing learning in the higher education context. She has graduated 10 Masters and 4 PhD students to date and has more than 25 peer- reviewed publications. In 2019 she received the UKZN College of Humanities Teaching Excellence Award as well as the School of Education Teaching Excellence Award.