VUT and Microsoft South Africa forge exciting relationships
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VUT and Microsoft South Africa forge exciting relationships

VUT Delegation that formed part of the workshop organized by the Microsoft team

Londiwe Dube

The Vaal University of Technology hosted a workshop facilitated by Microsoft team on Tuesday, 23rd and Wednesday, 24th July 2019 at the Vanderbijlpark campus.  The purpose of the two-day workshop was to assist the VUT team to have a holistic view of all the strategic elements of education transformation that could be beneficial to the university, namely: an understanding of the interdependencies of many components; an understanding of a multi-stakeholder approach to education change as well as a roadmap for major education transformation and technology.  The goal is to make VUT an exceptionally smart university using the latest technology offered by Microsoft.  Both parties will sign a Memorandum of Understanding as soon as critical areas for collaboration have been identified and agreed to.

The workshop was facilitated by Mrs. Jaye Richards-Hill, who works for the Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Education Team on projects focused on education improvement and digital transformation across Africa.  The workshop stems from the meet and greet exploratory meeting which was held on Friday, 17 May 2019 between the VUT team and Microsoft in Randburg.  Participants from VUT included DVC’s, Executive Deans and other critical role players within the VUT structures. Mrs. Richards-Hill was accompanied by Mrs. Vivian Ladner, Account Manager for VUT and Mr. Ian Bayvet, Microsoft partner from SIS Global.

Many may have noticed that educational systems used worldwide have become more advanced, hence it has become argumentative that the fourth industrial revolution educational implementations and systems used, are slowly replacing the innovative and practical usage of skills that were gained by human educators, but at the same time it also supports the statement that says ‘’change is good’’. Mrs. Richards-Hill deliberated much on the challenges that universities face when education changes through digital transformation. These challenges impact mostly on teachers and lecturers who are technological illiterate. Furthermore, she said that “these new implemented learning tactics will be highly favourable and add more value to the class of 2030, as they are now exposed to a lot of digital learning devices as compared to back in the days where the focus was mostly based on book, paper and pen’’.

The vitality of modern teaching, learning and research was emphasized as it provides benefits of using new technology and enables new processes that accelerate curriculum exploration and research breakthroughs. It nurtures mind-set growth in students, emphasizing future ready skills to help them thrive in jobs not yet invented. These advancements could enable VUT to empower students in courses that include both quantitative and qualitative research and help them to produce the best research results.  Active interaction by attendees was evident through a frequently asked question that said “will advanced technology not deteriorate the level of thinking of the students in future?”

Mr. Bayvet from the SIS Global, shared their experience of implementing the Student Success and Lifecycle Management at various institutions of higher learning and the benefits it provides the users.  It covers areas such as recruitment and enrolment; academic years of study and alumni relationships. He reiterated the fact that Student Success and Lifecycle Management goes to the heart of what it really means to offer long-term favourable educational experience, supported by honest institutional performance and student outcomes using technology under the help of Microsoft.

With the times we live in now, universities are challenged to continually evolve to meet the growing and changing needs of students globally. The fact of the matter is that what would our lives be without the everyday use of technology? Understandably, the use of technology will not replace great lecturers at VUT, but technology in the hands of great lecturers can be transformational.

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