3rd International North South TVET ICT Conference

M-Powering Learning: Designing Learning Spaces and Digital Teaching Methodologies to Enhance Student Performance

The DHET endorsed 3rd International North South TVET ICT Conference took place from 10 to 12 September 2014 at the Lagoon Beach Hotel in Milnerton, Cape Town.



The conference theme centred on the design of learning spaces and pedagogy to enhance student performance in the 21st century.

Two hundred and thirty delegates from 29 colleges and 5 universities were in attendance in addition to eighteen exhibitors and sponsors.

The 3 day programme offered quality presentations from local and international speakers, including a keynote address delivered by Liz Waller, Deputy Director for Information and Head of Information Services at the University of York.

Liz’s talk examined the context in which libraries are operating at the beginning of the 21st century and implications for library space design. She highlighted the move to technology-enabled learning spaces in the UK HE sector, drawing on statistical trends in learning space development and exemplars of recent best practice amongst SCONUL libraries in the UK.

Her session was rich with images, offering a tour round the best of UK HE library developments over the past few years without leaving the conference centre.

The conference also explored student expectations of the digital environment, which include issues such ubiquitous free-at-the-point-of-use access to the Internet, robust Wi Fi access and consistent use of the VLE for course administration and access to course content.

Other considerations include teaching staff with the ICT skills needed to effectively impart knowledge in a digital environment and ease of connection through their devices to the university network and assistance with the use of their devices on campus.

It is clear that a strategy of BYOD (bring your own device) could alleviate the pressure on college infrastructure, but can only be successful if the spaces are generously equipped with the appropriate infrastructure. Furthermore the flexibility of design is challenged by the ongoing demand for fixed IT.

The shift to student-centred teaching methods where the focus moves from the teacher to the learner was highlighted by Ann Michaelsen from Sandvika Upper Secondary school in Norway. She demonstrated how different technologies have assisted learners in the writing and publishing of their own books.

Furthermore, classrooms have become global and students connect and interact more easily with peers across the world to share information. To this end, video conferencing technology was used to connect with Marci Powell from Policom in the USA who illustrated how she engages her students located in different countries through video and student-centred pedagogies.

Technology is used very effectively to extend learning beyond the classroom walls and is available anywhere on any device. Technology can also be effectively used to reduce the cost of course delivery.

The benefits of video technology far outweigh any challenges posed and students can access learning opportunities despite their busy work and family schedules. They can improve and supplement their knowledge, skills and employment prospects. It also leads to improved satisfaction for teachers.

Professor Tom Brown of Unisa offered insights into the future of mobile technology, dispelling myths and illustrating how the technology can be seamlessly integrated with all aspects of learning.

According to Alan Livingstone (2014) “Smartphones and other mobile devices are Swiss Army knives of the 21st century”. It is thus very important to teach the 21st Century learner to use these devices effectively and to actively engage them through resource-rich learning material.

Amongst the conference highlights was a panel discussion on the formation of TVETNet with a view to introducing the proposed model to College Principals, CFOs and IT Managers from across the country.

Arno Hart (of TENET) presented the concept in a breakaway session and highlighted the philosophy of ending bandwidth poverty at TVET Colleges through a well-conceived model that was a viable consideration for colleges.

His ideas centred on TVET Colleges to naturally evolve a home-grown approach in establishing a national body that would service the high capacity connectivity needs of the sector. The body would have to conceive an operational network model and establish a membership base that would be representative of public TVET Colleges.

Drawing on the lessons of the formation of TENET, it would have to present a compelling case to the public TVET Colleges and DHET based on a financially viable model, the essence of which would be dependent on the “collective” approach that would enable cost savings through bulk supply of services and solutions.

Functionally, TVETNet is intended to operate as a professional service with well qualified and experienced managers, engineers and technicians to supply the service and support on a cost recovery model similar to that of TENET.

The 4th International North South TVET ICT Conference is scheduled to take place from 8 – 12 September 2015.



The DHET endorsed 3rd International North South TVET ICT Conference took place from 10 to 12 September 2014