Item Open AccessSocial communication and inclusive teaching practices: an action research case study(Department of Communication Science, University of the Free State, 2012) Makoelle, T. M.This article reports on how social communication was used to enhance a network for the development of inclusive teaching practices within the framework of an action research project. A team of 15 teachers at a Free State school embarked on action research to reflect on the inclusive practice in relation to inclusive teaching and learning with a view of improving their inclusive teaching skills. Data was collected using discussions, observations, field notes, and focus group interviews. Several communication platforms were created by the group to advance this ideal and to share information, namely Facebook, mobile communication (SMS/MMS), teleconferences, meeting of the community of enquiry, brainstorming meetings, discussions, use of diaries, and group interpretative engagements. Among the findings of the study is that social communication via social media as discourse has created an appropriate platform for coherent and empowering engagement about developing inclusive teaching practices and has resulted in a sustained learning environment. The social communication network provided a framework for reflection on practice resulting in the change of attitudes and improved inclusive pedagogy. Item Open AccessEffective and empowering communication as an aspect of the training and development of principals(Department of Communication Science, University of the Free State, 2012) Moloi, K. C.; Grobler, B.; Van der walt, J. K.; Potgieter, F. J.; Wolhuter, C. C.A school manager (principal, administrator, leader) should be keenly aware of the power relations and structures in a school, and also able to apply several communication skills effectively in a range of management contexts for the school to prosper. This article reports on a theoretical investigation into effective communication as well as an empirical study of educators’ views regarding the effectiveness of the communication skills of their school principals. The findings are of such a nature that principals should consider applying a similar survey instrument among their staff and other parties involved in their schools to helping them gauge the effectiveness of their communication skills. It is also recommended that principals consider the use of certain types of social media in their communication with other stakeholder parties. Item Open AccessInterrogating the current imagination of early childhood teacher education through dialogical processes(Department of Communication Science, University of the Free State, 2012) Ebrahim, Hasina Banu; Koen, Mariëtte; Martin, ColwynIn order to reconceptualise and redesign initial teacher education programmes it is imperative to critically examine what exists. The aim of this article is to shed light on the dialogical processes a team of early childhood teacher educators undertook to make explicit their current understandings of teacher education in an undergraduate Bachelor of Education qualification. The sensitising concepts of dialogue, communication, transformatory learning and reflection informed the study. A qualitative approach enabled through documentary analysis, conversations amongst teacher educators and their narratives were used to produce the evidence. The findings of the study show that dialogical processes unfolded as action-oriented strategies towards achieving a particular goal (i.e., change in teacher education) have the potential to allow teacher educators to reflect on, participate in and trouble existing frames of reference and develop sensitivity to new framings. Item Open AccessMobiles for sustainable learning environments: mobile phones and Mxit within a South African school context(Department of Communication Science, University of the Free State, 2012) Chaka, ChakaThis article reports on a pilot study harnessing mobiles for sustainable learning environments (M4SLEs) in the context of school learning. The notion of M4SLEs in this case has to do with leveraging mobile technologies such as mobile phones and MXit as instances of sustainable learning environments. In this article, both short message services (SMSs) and mobile instant messages (MIMs) are viewed as the main drivers and enablers of M4SLEs. More specifically, the article sets out to investigate the use of these two mobile applications for writing short paragraphs in the context of English as a first additional language (EFAL) by a group of grade 8 learners at a junior secondary school in one township in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. This hybrid mobile learning occurred outside the normal school time. Against this background, the article demonstrates that the two mobile applications could be used for asynchronous and synchronous paragraph writing purposes. In addition, the article argues that the two mobile applications tend to promote a form of social communication that operates as a discourse for engaging in school-based learning and for challenging a school discourse. Item Open AccessPower relations: exploring meanings in the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement 2011(Department of Communication Science, University of the Free State, 2012) Palmer, June; De Klerk, DarrellPower relations are seldom one-sided. Those who exercise power are caught up in and subjected to its functions equally as those over whom power is exercised. Educational institutions as social structures with a mandate of sustaining learning represent the conceptualisation of power as concomitant to social relationships. In the enactment of power, discourses of text and talk are evident in directive speech acts, through text types and laws, regulations, instructions, institutional policies and everyday social contact. This article provides insight into the concept of social communication transfer in multicultural education settings in South Africa. Despite the transformation of South African society, education institutions in particular remain sites where powerlessness is rife and social communication discourses reinforce the notion of perpetual disempowerment. A Foucauldian discourse analysis was undertaken to analyse the purpose statements outlined in the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS 2011). An analysis was conducted in which meanings conveyed in CAPS discourses were explored; an interpretation of the manifestation of power relations in texts and the implications thereof on the creation of a sustainable learning environment uncovered. Item Open AccessDiscourse as social communication: implications for gender equitable learning environments(Department of Communication Science, University of the Free State, 2012) Morojele, PholohoThis article focuses the battle for sustainable gender equitable learning environments on discourse as social communication. Based on a critical review of feminist research and critical men’s studies, the article foregrounds the centrality of discourse in gendered social relations, and what this implies for sustainable gender equitable learning environments. A sociological theory of social constructionism is used to highlight the role of discourse in communicating and shaping gender values and meanings. The gender-discourse nexus is discussed to illuminate insights into the intimate fellowship between these variables. The article points to complex relationships between gender, discourse and hegemony, and how these function in tandem to perpetuate the status quo of gender inequalities. Power is found to induce submission, which enables the scheme of gender inequalities to operate below the radar (or otherwise appear normal or trivial) and thus unworthy to protest against them. Strategies offered include deconstructing power relations between various gender discourses, and between learning institutions and those whom they serve. This would entail curricula revision in order to walk-the-talk of affirming and supporting girls and boys to have not only the equal rights of liberalism but also an equal right to flourish as human beings, as a principle for sustainable gender equitable learning environments. Item Open AccessCan social communication be used as a strategy to enhance teaching and learning of life sciences? Perceptions of student teachers(Department of Commnication Science, University of the Free State, 2012) Setlalentoa, WendySocial communication in the current context of an informational and technological society has become indispensable globally and in South Africa. This article examines how social communication can be used as a strategy to enhance teaching and learning of Life Sciences amongst student teachers at an institution of higher learning. Focus group discussions were held with senior Life Sciences student teachers, who were allowed an opportunity to tell their own stories of how they were able or unable to use social communication as it prevailed for them mediating the teaching and learning of Life Sciences. Social communication networks in education for example are increasingly used as a mode of delivery of education, but recently there have been some initiatives to establish how it can be used effectively in improving academic performance of students. Globally students are using social networks such as Twitter, MXit, Facebook, etc. although the majority of learners use this social means of communication for other purposes than education. The findings indicate that social communication enhances teaching and learning and regular usage thereof promotes learner interest in Life Sciences. Although there exists a strong desire to integrate social communication in the teaching of Life Sciences, there are many barriers. Accessibility, confidence and competence are critical components of technology; resources, effective professional development, and technical support need to be provided to student teachers. Item Open AccessThe conversational dimensions of classroom and social media learning interactions(Department of Communication Science, University of the Free State, 2012) Van der Westhuizen, Gert. J.The focus of this article is on learning conversations in school classrooms, what they are about, and how they form the basis of pedagogical activities and social communication in schools. The purpose is to develop an understanding of the features and benefits of learning conversations in classroom interactions, and how they may be extended by the growing use of social media. For this purpose, Conversation Analysis (CA) studies of classroom interactions are analysed and a summary is offered of the features of meaningful learning conversations. Examples of social media interactions are then analysed in terms of these features, to consider the implications for sustainable learning in school classrooms. Item Open AccessTeacher narratives on the teaching of sexuality and HIV/AIDS education(Department of Communication Science, University of the Free State, 2012) Francis, DennisThis article interrogates two questions: what do teachers believe about their training and preparation to teach sexuality education, and how do teachers reconcile their own identities and beliefs with the content of sexuality education? Using a qualitative research design with in-depth interviewing as method, this article argues that Life Orientation teachers lack training and come from a diverse range of fields, which do not always adequately equip them to teach sexuality education confidently and effectively. The article also makes suggestions for policy, practice and direction that future research might take to deepen our understanding about the teaching of sexuality education, including that schools must provide in-service sessions on the teaching of sexuality and that teacher training in the area of sexuality education must take into account elements of self-reflexivity where teachers begin to recognise and name their own beliefs and prejudices, and begin to separate their own values from the content they are teaching. Item Open AccessTowards sustainable learning environments: deconstructing discourse of social justice in the english home language class room(Department of Communication Science, University of the Free State, 2012) Govender, Rodelle; Muthukrishna, NithiInternationally there have been calls for the creation of sustainable learning environments. Education is seen as a key tool for building a sustainable community and society. A key issue in these debates is that the school curriculum should involve learners in a critical engagement on issues of social justice, human rights and social change by transforming attitudes and behaviours. This article presents a study that explored how discourses of social justice are created and generated in a classroom, and how they influence a teacher’s practices. The study involved one teacher at an urban secondary school in KwaZulu-Natal. Data generation tools used were interviews and lesson observation. Data analysis entailed the use of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). Three discourses of social justice embedded in the teacher’s assumptions and pedagogical practices emerged from the analysis: the discourse of academic excellence; the discourse of inclusivity and diversity; and the discourse of critical thinking. The study highlighted the need for further research into ways of supporting teachers in adopting a social justice approach to teaching and in creating empowering learning environments. Item Open AccessSocial communication towards sustainable physical science learning environments(Department of Communication Science, University of the Free State, 2012) Mahlomaholo, Sechaba. M. G.This article documents how social communication among actors in one of the projects in our academic network creates sustainable learning environments at a school and its local community. Social communication is understood to be the symbolic order that emerges when these actors (human beings), in a reciprocal manner, explain and share the intentions, processes and outcomes of their actions. In this study, actors who communicate among themselves in the academic network are teachers, learners, parents, members of the community, postgraduate student researchers and their supervisors. Such communication is deliberate and it is organised, among others, towards enhancing academic performance of school learners as well as the empowerment of other actors participating therein. Using network theory the author comes to understand how this network as the space of flows of knowledge and communication was created and meaningfully used to achieve the abovementioned objectives. Analysing the conversations of actors within this network further, using critical discourse analytic procedures, also shows how they combine their tacit community cultural wealth and global knowledge to scaffold themselves to higher forms of conceptual sophistication. Through this intersection of “knowledges”, learning environments become sustainable as actors own them through self-generated communications and knowledge.