A team from the Durban University of Technology (DUT), The Oracles were recently awarded a R25 000 prize after winning the Online Learning at Historically Disadvantaged Institutions (HDI)-2020 Hackathon challenge.
The Oracles were one of the teams from the six Universities of Technology in South Africa: DUT, CUT, VUT, MUT, TUT and CPUT who were invited by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – Africa’s Initiative in partnership with Admond Capital Seed and Growth Engine (ACSeedE) to participate in a 48 hour online Hackathon to come up with solutions to the challenges of online learning, from the 22 May to 3 June 2020.
These challenges were divided into the following five streams:
- Connectivity infrastructure
- Software Platforms (e.g Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, WhatsApp, Slack, etc.)
- Online Content (Local and International)
- Service Payment Models
- Online Awareness
The Oracles, consisting of Vusimuzi Bhengu, Chris Minoko, Sivuyise Mmbo, Fanie Ndlovu and Reddy Bambi were recognised for their efforts in coming up with a remarkable solution when streaming online content. The team said that they had 48 hours to choose a stream, write a concept document and pitch deck. In response, they said they chose the online content stream because they felt it was where they stood a better chance of winning due to their studies and experience. They said they went a step further by building a working prototype to ensure that they had an advantage over the other teams.
They further stated that they were grateful to the university for equipping them with the skills that allowed them to be competitive nationally and even globally.
Two of their members are part of the internationally recognised Microsoft Student Partner program, one has won several innovation awards in the country including the recently held GovTech awards, one was amongst the 130 cum laude graduates in the Information Technology department.
The Project Director for the coordination of MIT-Africa South African Universities program at DUT, Dr Julia Mohapi, said the spread of corona-virus caused most higher education institutions to resort to online learning.
“ DUT in partnership with MIT-Africa and ACSeedE has thus isolated the six Universities of Technology (UoTs) to implement a hackathon for the successful implementation of online learning. They had to provide significant input to impactful “solutions at an ecosystems level that engages with all the relevant value chains’’, said Dr Mohapi .
She also revealed that the MIT-Africa, South African Universities program has recruited four interns from the DUT into their administration portfolio, these interns were the main administrators of the Hackathon Challenge.
Their names are Nokuzola Mdluli, Kaslin Govender, Bubonke Matandela and Bheka Mbonambi.
Speaking on behalf of the organisers of the challenge, Mr Siphiwe Duma congratulated The Oracles for organizing a web-based platform for students to access course-specific learning resources that are sourced from across the web and from a community of verified contributors. He thanked all the teams who participated in making the Hackathon challenge a huge success.
DUT student, Bheka Mbonambi who was part of the team coordinating this event said he was grateful for the opportunity given to him. He said he heard about this programme from one of his classmates at the beginning of the year and signing up for it was his greatest decision. In first week of July, Mbonambi said they are planning to host yet another challenge and they had already invited 10 institutions to take part in it. Mbonambi said that this event provides a platform for universities to continue with their academic year efficiently despite the disruptions caused by the outbreak of corona-virus.
Pictured: DUT Team, The Oracles consisting of Vusimuzi Bhengu, Chris Minoko, Sivuyise Mmbo, Fanie Ndlovu and Reddy Bambi who won R25 000 after excelling at the Online Learning at HDI-2020 Hackathon challenge.