My experience at HELTASA 2015
As a lecturer in higher education in the area of mathematics, I attended the annual HELTASA (Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa) conference which was held at the North-West University at the Potchefstroom campus in Potchefstroom. I have been working on quite advanced applications of differential equations in mathematics, until recently I decided to apply these to teaching and learning.
I began applying differential equations to knowledge acquisition. In my masters’ thesis I worked on differential equations in disease modeling, in particular malaria. These mathematical models have been widely used to predict the persistence of a disease and how it can be controlled. I then started applying these models to knowledge acquisition, I wrote my first paper on this and submitted it to HELTASA. I presented the paper at the conference and I was surprised that there were quite a lot of people who were interested in the idea.
At this conference there were quite a lot of other speakers who highlighted the need to improve higher education in South Africa. Comparison of South African higher learning was done by presenters such as Dr. Leonel Lim of the National Institute of education in Singapore. He reported on the higher education in Asia on how it is influenced by socio-economic and political issues. This was cemented by other talks from Professor Diane Grayson who talked about the involvement of academics in the designing of learning spaces. She also pointed out that the design of learning spaces in some South African institutions do not promote learning and this need to be improved.
In this conference there were also useful workshops that I benefited from among others were the talks presented by G Wisker on the developing academic writing and publishing career and F Mudavanhu on advancing and enhancing teaching through blogging. These talks contributed to my understanding of the world of article writing and online interaction with other academics in my area of specialization. There were numerous other talks that were presented, for more information on these you can visit: www.nwu.ac.za/heltasa.
the issue of fees must fall campaign, HELTASA adopted the position that they support all the transformation in the universities being called for by the students. Those who are interested in these useful conferences should visit the website indicated above.