Richfield holds academic conference

2018-09-20 06:01
Some of the guests at the conference. PHOTO: supplied

Some of the guests at the conference. PHOTO: supplied

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THE Richfield Graduate Institute of Technology held the first academic conference at L’Aperitivo Conference Centre in Umhlanga Rocks on September 12.

Dignitaries at the conference were Steve Mbikayi (Minister of Education in DRC), Professor John Trimble (TUT, Howard University, U.S.), Alistair Mokoena (CEO, Ogilvy), Brian P. Lewkowicz (lead technology expert, Ernst and Young), Dr Sampan Silapanad (Western Digital, Thailand), Dr Shaheeda Essack (DHET), Dr Mark Horner (CEO, Siyavula) and Tola Adesina (Coventry University, UK).

Group chief executive office Jay Ramnundlall said the institution, in its 29-year history, has received great accolades and awards on a regional, national and international scale for consistent performance.

“Richfield Graduate Institute of Technology has, in particular, been recognised for consistent efforts towards developing its higher education and training system in South Africa.

“It is not surprising that Investec is now in the final stages of acquiring a controlling interest in Richfield Holdings,” Ramnundlall said.

He said the institution recently won several international awards in Oxford (UK), Geneva (Switzerland), Rome (Italy) and London (UK), ranging from “perfection, quality and ideal performance” to “sustainability, quality achievements and technology integration”.

It is therefore not surprising that Richfield won SA’s Top National Business of the Year Award in 2017, he added.

“I commend Professor Rosh Maharaj for setting up the research department and the work done over the past 10 years. In particular, I would like to acknowledge Dr Stephen Akandwanaho for leading the planning and delivery of the conference,” Ramnundlall said.

He said the institution is proud to have invested wisely in technology to create an environment that stimulates research among staff and students with a savvy information technology focus.

Ramnundlall said this has laid the pathway for their migration and beefing up of their programmes to respond to the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution and in particular the embedding of artificial intelligence in curriculum design.

In addressing the key challenges in higher education, Richfield has focused its energy on integrating technology into the curriculum with the objective of improving student success rates.

The institution’s blended learning solution involves the use of a tablet PC, a Moodle as a learner management system, a video lab for recording lectures, and a shift from lecturer centeredness to student centeredness, and in this way it is facilitating a migration to a greener planet.

Ramnundlall said the multinational technology giant, IBM, is partnering with Richfield to develop the next generation of technical talent in Africa and beyond by making Richfield a hub for next-generation market-driven skills.

“Students and staff of Richfield are set to benefit with advanced hands-on skills in a range of information technology courses such as cyber security, mobile application development, business analytics, cloud, big data technologies, Internet of Things, block chain, etc., which are crucial to Africa’s social and economic development,” Ramnundlall said.

The conference will be followed by second CIDD workshop for 2018, where some of the recommendations will be explored further and decisions taken about their possible inclusion into the curriculum design and review processes.

Some early aspects of artificial intelligence in education design break away from the “one size fits all” approach to teaching and learning by moving from lecturing to facilitation and coaching, based on assessments emanating from Moodle. Student experiences are becoming more recognised, particularly from an active tapping of social-media networks, which allows for customised design and blended approaches for teaching and learning. -Supplied

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