Herkimer County Community College recently hosted a delegation from the University of South Africa (UNISA). The visit included a panel discussion attended by faculty, staff, students and community members. The panel included several UNISA leaders working on a Signature Course Project of which HCCC Professor Bill Pelz is also a team member. The team is developing six fully online courses, one for each of UNISA’s colleges, that encourage student engagement and address societal needs.
Panel moderator Dr. Sabine O’Hara, a principal of Global Ecology, a higher education firm heading the project, said that SUNY was the logical educational partner for UNISA, due to several similar characteristics including size, number of students and organizational structure. O’Hara explained that not only does online learning provide access for students wherever they are, but more importantly, learning is enhanced because of the student engagement required and facilitated through online learning.
She said, “Learning always takes place when we learn from each other. Education and learning is not about having your questions answered. It’s about having your answers questioned. That’s why learning from each other is so important. Because when we see things through a different lens, with a different perspective, and our answers we thought we had are being questioned by the lens that others bring to the same question or issue, that’s when real learning takes place.”
Panelists discussed the education system and culture of South Africa as well as how the challenges of current economic and living conditions prevent access to higher education. They also talked about the progress being made on the Signature Course Project and how it will transform education and learning in South Africa. Pictured is the UNISA delegation with HCCC Professor Bill Pelz (third from left).