The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Reflections on Academic Development During Covid-19: Zone of Trauma, Transition and Transformation

Xena Cupido, Cape Peninsular University of Technology (South Africa)


At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, the South African government declared a state of disaster forcing an immediate and total shutdown of all non-essential activities. Universities and schools suspended all activities with immediate effect. The announcement of the State mandated lockdown during the first wave of the pandemic forced universities to consider alternatives to face-to-face learning with the aim of salvaging the academic year. In this paper , as academic development practitioners, reflect on our experiences during the first wave as we tried to support academic staff with the transition to remote teaching and learning. The transition process forced us to very quickly learn new ways of engaging with academic staff, while at the same time unlearning old habits and relearning new teaching, learning and training strategies to work remotely with academic staff. We adopted a reflective practice approach as we navigated through times of uncertainty and disruption, necessitated by the need for responsive and rapid change. We use the Atkins and Murphy model of reflection, which was designed to explore individual experiences to enable areas for improvement as part of reflective practice.  This model considers discomforts as an essential part of improvement and the learning that occurs through the process. This paper brings into focus the learning, unlearning and relearning process that was experienced. We identify three zones in which we as academics found ourselves in as we tried to cope with personal and professional responsibilities. The paper unpacks these zones: the zone of trauma, zone of transition and the zone of transformation, which we titled in this paper: the three T-Zone of learning, unlearning and relearning during times of disruption in higher education. During this period of uncertainty and vulnerability we found ourselves together with the academic staff working within these zones. The levels of engagement and learning in these zones varied, with no particular sequence of time and space.   We highlight that during a time of crises and much discomfort lies opportunities to innovate and create new ways of being and doing. However, it has also brought into focus the need to address inequalities with regard to access of resources and learning environment amongst academics in the South African higher education context.


Keywords Trauma, Transition, Transformation, Covid-19, Learning, Unlearning, Relearning. 

References [1] Atkins, S. and Murphy, K. ‘Reflection: a review of the literature’, Journal of Advanced Nursing, vol. 18, pp, 1993. 1188–1192.


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