The office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation, and Engagement (DVC: RIE) at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) hosted a virtual launch of the Revolutionary Engagement App via Microsoft Teams, on Wednesday, 07 July 2021.
The development of the Engagement App was commissioned by the DVC: RIE, Professor Sibusiso Moyo, in line with DUT’s ENVISION2030 Systems and Processes perspective to adopt integrated digital systems and processes that enable staff to deliver optimally.
The benefits of the App include the recording of projects and activities, generating management reports, access to all Engagement Projects to easily form partnerships with mutual benefit, and see the overview of projects or work that is contributing to ENVISION2030.
The Programme Director was Ms Phumzile Xulu, the Community Engagement Practitioner at the Community Engagement Office under the office of DVC: RIE who gave a warm welcome to all the guests.
Giving insight on the purpose of the Engagement App and its importance was the Director of Technology, Transfer and Innovation (TTI), Professor Keolebogile Motaung, who was representing DVC: RIE, Prof Moyo in her absentia.
“This App is going to address the Stewardship and Systems and Processes perspectives of our ENVISION2030. Where we talk about digitalisation, automation, whether it can be for teaching and learning, research, innovation, and systems support. For Stewardship, this App will play the most important role in terms of integrity and creativity innovation. We usually talk about the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. As we talk about the engagement, whether you are involved in any kind of community engagement, you are solving one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Our engagement work will always be going to be aligned with the United Nations Development goals that we are solving, especially when we talk about community engagement and this is where this App is going to play the most important role,” said Prof Motaung.
Prof Motaung added that the mobile App will play a crucial role in creating real-time data which will assist DUT when being ranked in any of the Sustainable Development Goals. According to Prof Motaung, through this mobile App, DUT is creating the necessary support to community engagement projects to have more impact. She said this will assist the DUT staff and students involved in community engagement projects to start working together as a collaborative.
“The University and the Faculties have to report their community engagement activities to the DVC: RIE. The mobile App will assist in capturing whatever projects and it will make your life easy in terms of reporting. The current reporting process is ineffective, inefficient, and causes a delay. We want to develop an App that will register DUT students, staff involved in community engagement projects, based on their Faculties and Departments. It will record the general project information and continuous project activities. DUT community members will access the information anywhere, anytime with any device. The objectives are to ensure that staff members and students will record their community engagement projects for support in the App. Again, the University Management and the DUT community will have access to the community engagement projects captured and offer support. When everyone is working solo, it is difficult for management to support community engagement activities because they don’t know who is doing what. The App will make life easy at a departmental level, to develop the data immediately when asked for reports on community engagement projects,” said Prof Motaung.
Elaborating on the importance of this App, Xulu said: “This launch is very important for us because, in 2020, the DUT Engagement Framework 2030 was adopted by the Executive Management Committee here at DUT. This Framework outlines our commitment as DUT to engage with our people, which is us the staff, students, alumni, community members, and the public. With this Engagement App, we will be able to see what each person is doing and be able to collaborate where we can and support where needed. There are really exciting features on this App where you will be able to see which partners each project is working with and the funders of each project. It will help if you are looking to work with a particular partner or a funder. You will see if they are funding the project and maybe contact those colleagues working on those projects, to get more information.”
Furthermore, she explained that there are various ways that the DUT staff and students can engage with this App, but they just need to learn more about it, add to its projects so that it can produce for the University the needed information.
She thanked the Engagement App Developers, Mr Fanie Ndlovu and Mr Someleze Diko for developing it, stating it has been a long journey.
Demonstrating how the App works, Ndlovu said it was an exciting moment for them to launch the App. He said it is a power App, easily accessible on the cell phone and desktop.
“We are excited, my colleague Someleze has been working very hard with me to make sure that we are contributing towards making sure all the University community works together towards making this University the best in the world. To access the App, we will capture your details, starting with the Faculty Reps, then look at the people within the faculty who are doing community engagement activities and they will be added onto the App. To access the App, you will use your normal email address and your password because it is built on top of Office365 that the University has already licensed for. The details that you use to login into your email, is the one that you are going to use logging into this App,” said Ndlovu.
He said the programmes are filtered as per Faculty, and how to record a project and generate a report using the App. The launch ended with a question-and-answer session to clearly explain how the App works.
In closing, Xulu thanked Prof Motaung, the mobile App developers, and the guests for their contribution and support in ensuring that the launch was a success.
Any staff member or student wishing to learn more about the App must contact Mr Fanie Ndlovu via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured: The DUT Engagement App developers, Fanie Ndlovu and Someleze Diko.