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#feescanfall – if we embrace tech

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The time has come for all parties involved in the #feesmustfall debacle to take a step back, take a deep breath and consider the fact that the answer is staring them right in the face, writes EUGENE BEETGE, MD of Tuit.

I’m not saying that they haven’t considered the role technology-assisted distance education can play in making tertiary education more affordable, but I’ve heard no mention of it in recent reporting on the situation.  The focus is clearly on how Government is expected to subsidise tertiary education and how Universities are going to make a subsidised budget work with no or little tuition income being generated.

I’ve been a technology entrepreneur for many years, with a major focus on technology supported education, and as a spectator to the #feesmustfall situation, I believe it’s time for like-minded individuals and entrepreneurs to say #feescanfall, by shifting the focus from traditional brick and mortar institutions to virtual classrooms, libraries and student-lecturer interactions.

TUIT has been working with various universities, students, lecturers and entrepreneurial suppliers to the education sector for a couple of years, and we have developed, implemented and tested a solution that can play a major role in the reduction of the cost of tertiary education in South Africa.

One of the biggest hurdles I face on a daily basis is convincing the relevant role-players that their biggest assets are not buildings, sports facilities or residences.  Their biggest assets are knowledge, content, lecturers and most importantly its brand!

Through capitalising on the opportunity that is technology-supported education, tertiary institutions can significantly increase their teaching capacity, which increases revenue.  It will also reduce overheads linked to running and maintaining physical campuses.  The equation is simple and the reduction in tuition costs substantial.

So why has this model not been rolled out on a much larger scale?  Mainly due to the natural resistance of an older generation to embrace technology.  Thinking out of the box or being open to the disruptive practices of technology is just too far out of their comfort zone.

Having spent most of 2016 engaging with various universities, colleges and lecturers, as well as presenting many workshops on technology-assisted learning, the overwhelming obstacle remains the traditional doctrine that lecture rooms are the only way to educate.

TUIT has demonstrated that existing educational content can be repurposed and that students can be engaged in an interactive enrolment journey without the dependence on a physical campus.  And this is where technology-supported education would have enabled students who are desperate to complete their academic year, to prepare for their final exams without the threat #feesmustfall is posing.

This is not a “let’s shut down campuses and put all our courses online” solution either.  Universities will still need to maintain its brand and reputation through the quality of the content and the lecturer that presents it.  Student interaction and support will remain key to the success of any model, and campuses will probably continue to operate in a traditional manor on some level for many more years.  But physical campuses are limited in its capacity and is expensive to run.

The concept of disintermediation is a subject very close to my heart, and is reflected in every aspect of our business and the solutions we provide.  In short, it addresses the role of the middleman between the supplier and the consumer.  It is not the replacement of the middleman in the supply chain, but rather the upgrading of the middleman to shorten the supply chain, leading to a more streamlined process and an improved end-user experience.

If universities and even government can envisage the impact of disintermediation brought about by technology, creating a roadmap to affordable tertiary education, should not be such a challenge.  Through digitisation, business automation, location independence and the real-world application of disintermediation, online learning content can be available worldwide, creating student enrolment journeys, lecturer involvement and significant savings for students.

University brand recognition will be key in the future, not geographical placement or infrastructure.  Who will be first to take real steps towards embracing innovation, not just testing the waters with a few short courses, but really putting technology-supported education front and centre in their strategy for the future?

If there are a few trailblazers amongst the powers that be, that is willing to challenge the status quo, #feescanfall!

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entires via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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Arts and Entertainment

Deezer to host Hotstix’s Mandela tribute playlist

Deezer is celebrating Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birthday by hosting a tribute playlist created by music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse.  

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Mabuse, a legendary figure in African music, first rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band Harari and later developed a name for himself as a solo artist. One of his best known songs was the global hit BurnOut in the 1980s.

The playlist takes the listener on a captivating musical journey through the life of Nelson Mandela.  It was compiled by Mabuse, who consulted with Mandela’s family and friends to ensure that the music would be relevant and accurate. The playlist also features commentary by Mabuse, which was recorded in his Soweto home.  

“I have tried to tell the story of the music that Madiba loved,” says Mabuse. “The Playlist excludes the time in prison obviously, as Madiba would not have had exposure to music in that time.  We have focused on the music we know he loved before and after that period. This recording was really an emotional journey for me, but an incredible opportunity to document these memories.”

The playlist features the music the young Mandela loved, such as The Manhattan Brothers, Solomon Linda, Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba.  It includes struggle songs from Chicco, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.  The playlist also includes Mandela by Zahara, one of the younger artists who caught Madiba’s ear.

Mabuse also offers stories of his own songs, such as Shikisha, a song greatly beloved by the former President.

“I was delighted to share my thoughts and hope the listeners enjoyed the musical journey,” says Mabuse. “Madiba did enjoy music immensely and we all have a purpose wherever we are in the world to celebrate culture and to learn from different cultures and music forms and styles.”

This playlist was inspired by the Nelson Mandela 100 campaign, calling on corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversation and action.

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