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Contact-new.svg Liz Harrison
Employer:Durban University of Technology
Occupation:Educational Technologist
Nationality:South African
Languages:English, Afrikaans
Country:South Africa
Skype address:liz.harrison
Certificate orange.svg
This user was certified a Wiki Apprentice Level 2 by ASnieckus .
L4C-small.png This user was a proud participant of eL4C41.
My Learning4Content course home page 

My profile

This isn't the most flattering profile picture I could post but it is authentic. This is what I look like when I'm deep in contemplation of an educational conundrum - notice the glazed eyes indicating that the wheels are whirring behind them!

Professional background

I am currently appointed as an educational technologist at Durban University of Technology, South Africa. The emphasis, as far as background is concerned, is on my education skills. I am a trained high school teacher (English and Counselling), who has come via a short stint training for a retail chain, into teaching in Higher Education.  This is where I fell in love with the idea of online learning. I need to hone my technologcal skills.


I have a PhD in Education from the University of KwaZulu Natal, the subject of which was the development of doctoral identity. My M.Ed (from DUT) project dealt with Student Evaluation of Teaching. I did my undergraduate and initial teacher education at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

My interests

I'm particularly interested in narratives of knowledge and student experiences of learning. I love to play with software and to see what I can use it for. I am particularly interested in the emancipatory potential of online learning and internet access. I think of access and success as the driving goals of all South African educators in our post-apartheid country.


Tinker Thinker

I am interested in so many things that my biggest challenge is trying to narrow my scope to things that I can achieve in the time available. My ipod shuffle is loaded with podcasts ranging from philosophy to daily news to science and sociology. I am interested in how we shape our identities and how they are shaped by our environment.

Durban University of Technology is a relatively new institution formed by the merger of two apartheid era Technikons - one historically white and the other historically indian. The merger has presented DUT with interesting challenges of defining a post-apartheid identity as well as a university of technology identity. From technikons that specialised in occupationally-directed teaching the university of technology identity seems to add the layer of creating new knowledge that can be applied instantly to those occupations.

Through my doctoral study I became aware that technology is not neutral or without an agenda. The way we work with technology is founded in ideas about what it means to know and what counts as valuable - epistemologies of technology. It worries me that some attitudes to technology hide these agendas.

I think that the way an occupational field works with technology can be analysed in terms of:

  • the dominant interest served e.g. profit/ practioner/ client/ community
  • the degree of openness exhibited towards alternate ways of thinking e.g. the tension between allopathic and holistic medicine
  • the degree to which physical dexterity and acuity e.g. tool usage are prized in relation to problem-solving ability

I'm sure there are more.

Skills vs Knowledge

Why do we divide them?

Reflecting now

My mixed collage of identity as a knower see above leaves me in about ten minds about what I could make as my contribution to WikiEducator. So far the list includes in order of thought not priority

  1. Writing Tips
  2. The nature of academic argument
  3. Using personal narrative to create learning materials
  4. Integrating theory and practice in problem-based learning

I intend to brainstorm more options as none of these are really 'blowing my hair back'!

My wiki projects

My optional community service (learning contract) project

100px-L4C-small.png  Agreement
By signing this optional learning contract I will try to complete my training in basic wiki editing skills to achieve the status of a Wikibuddy. In return for this free training opportunity, I will give the gift of knowledge by donating or developing at least one free content resource licensed under a CC-BY-SA or CC-BY license which can be used by myself (and others) on WikiEducator.
Brief description of project
<A worksheet that will help graduate students with writers' block>
Target date for completion
<31st October 2010>.
 <--Lizkzn 15:28, 31 July 2010 (UTC).>

Feedback and notes from my WikiNeighbours

  • Dear Liz, Welcome to WikiEducator. Glad you are taking advantage of this wonderful learning opportunity. You've done some good work on your userpage--there's no better way to learn than "Be bold and try it." Great pic--love the explanation. Note that you don't have to keep the "WikiEducator_logo100.jpg" photo in the "infobox personal" template; a personal picture is the objective. The starting structure on your userpage is only a suggestion. You are encouraged to revise/adapt as you like. If you need any help, feel free to contact me (click on my name at the end of this message to access my userpage where you can leave a note). Your WikiNeighbor, --Alison Snieckus 18:44, 21 July 2010 (UTC).
  • Hi Liz. Really nice page. Maybe now you could fill in the infobox. When you open this page in the edit mode the first thing there is on the page is the infobox template. You have to fill in details after the '='. And may be upload the picture within the box. You'll see that the box starts with a double curly brackets and ends with them too. Also, you could do your experimentation/practice in 'My Sandbox" - I can see the page is empty since the link is red. It turns blue when you add content. Try doing that. I'll be seeing you soon. Savithri Singh 19:19, 27 July 2010 (UTC).

  • Hi Savrithi, I took your advice. What I was trying to do with the link was to refer back to a section further up the page - I clearly need more info on how to do that. I will seek it out
  • Hi Liz, Congrats on becoming a Wiki Apprentice Level 2. Looks to me like you are really getting the hang of this. I see that the hippo picture was taken in early July and you offered it as a gift for anyone to use. Thanks. Is there really a whole lot more going on under the water? Your WikiNeighbor, --Alison Snieckus 00:39, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Thanks Alison. I'm afraid I've got behind because I've been away from home being a guest lecturer this week. My internet connection has been horrible. I hope to catch up over the weekend. As for the hippo - probably not much going on under water in this pic - I think I should probably post the one that I have where all you can see is the hippo's nostrils. It makes a better African metaphor than the old cliche of the iceberg, because hippo's legs are continuously moving as they move over the bottom of a river or dam.
    • Hmmm, it seems like WikiEducator could use this metaphor....there's really a whole lot more going on under the surface. I look forward to seeing the new picture. Don't worry that you've gotten behind, and now the workshop is over. The tutorials are all still available for self-study and the community is always available to help.
I've enjoyed working with you during this workshop. As you continue learning how to work in a wiki, don't hesitate to leave me a note or a question on my user page or talk page. See you around the wiki. Your WikiNeighbour, --Alison Snieckus 18:05, 7 August 2010 (UTC)

My Sandbox

My sandbox

Criteria for Rigour in Self-Research Methodologies – Countering the charge of navel-gazing
This is my first thumbnail

One of the biggest obstacles to my completion of my PhD, actually even starting it, was my notion of what research was. I had this idea that research involved laboratories filled with pristinely clean and strangely shaped glassware or even photon canons. Does anyone doubt that the Large Hadron Collider [[1]]is to do with anything but research? My problem lay in how to research what teachers do - after all, I'd read the text books and passed the courses. Surely that suggested that the answers to how to make education effective had been discovered - all that remained was to adapt the 'true theory' to my specific learners.

NO! Research is about finding an answer to a question.

What is Research?

What is Rigour?

Why be Rigorous?

Is rigour possible when one is studying one's own knowledge and ways of knowing?
Is this self-indulgent or is it the beginning of knowledge?

If we take Michael Polanyi 's idea of personal knowledge: that all knowledge is personal  (, then the challenge lies in "codifying our own tacit knowledge" i.e. accessing it and checking it's general value to others then sharing it. I can do this through writing - for academic purposes writing is thinking . Writing however messy helps me clarify what it is that I'm really thinking about complex thoughts. By putting my ideas on paper or screen, I can become the audience to my own thinking. As I'm typing I edit and refine.

What's stopping you?