A visit to the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, Cape Town

I was fortunate yesterday to be able to spend a morning in the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CILT – with a soft C as in CEL) at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

UCT is one of Africa’s premier universities with a global reputation.  UCT have some 27,000 students so are 50% larger than BU.

It was fascinating to speak to staff in CILT and to learn about their teaching and learning work.  There were many parallels with the issues we face at BU, sometimes similar solutions and courses of action being taken but often quite different approaches between UCT and BU.

South African universities operate in a political and cultural context that is largely absent in the UK.  In addition, drop out rates can exceed half of enrolled students which means that retention and systems support tools such as learning analytics feature in many institutions as ways are sought to identify the factors that will increase student success in South African HEIs.

There are strong governmental influences in the field of HE, for example through the encouragement of online courses which widen participation and recognise a future where students will be less tied to physical entities.  This is backed at UCT by strong executive leadership which is driving change across the University.  An examples of this is the exploratory development of MOOCs at UCT as a way to better understand this technology and its uses.

I was stuck by the size and structure of the CILT department at UCT as demonstrated by their functional organisation chart.


Curriculum design is a key element of the services provided by CILT and a notable difference with BU.  In addition to the CILT department, teaching and learning is supported by staff based in each of the faculties.

CILT have a person devoted to communication and mentioned how useful this role has been in raising the profile and spreading the message.

UCT contract teaching staff on a temporary basis and have staff dedicated to supporting their teaching and learning.

As a result of the meeting, we will be looking into the possibility of joint research.  Areas of potential interest include evaluating the effectiveness of teaching and learning interventions for staff, Peerwise and conducting qualitative research into the views of staff, replicating a study recently undertaken at UCT .

My time at UCT was fascinating and I would like to thank the staff for giving up their time yesterday.

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