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A workshop adopting a Project-Based Learning (PBL) approach with a focus on entrepreneurship was held at the Hilton Garden Inn Umhlanga Arch Hotel recently. It is an initiative which is not only interdisciplinary but is integrated into the syllabus and embedded in research methodology and entrepreneurship modules offered in the Advanced Diploma in Public Relations, Advanced Diploma in Ecotourism and Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration. This project is amalgamated with the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) – Ngodini Bunduz Entrepreneurship Advancement Project.

Speaking about the concept further Mr Nyane Mofokeng said: “The overall concept of the DUT Ngodini Bunduz Entrepreneurship Advancement Project is to drive community engagement and development initiatives with the aim of upskilling small and medium enterprises, as well as aspirant businesses to develop commercially viable businesses and curb the flow of urban migration from rural and semi-rural localities.”

It is spearheaded by the Department of Applied Management, Department of Ecotourism, Department of Entrepreneurial Studies and Management (Faculty of Management Sciences) as well as the Department of Horticulture (Faculty of Applied Sciences) at DUT. The integration and collaboration of projects, resources, as well as objectives, has better positioned and aligned the PBL initiative to the objectives of the University’s ENVISION2030.

Day One included the chief facilitators for this session who were Mrs Yachal du Plessis and Mr Nyane Mofokeng, lecturers in the Department of Applied Management and bearers of the PBL initiative concept. The workshop officially commenced with a welcoming address by Professor Dumisani Zondo, the HOD in the Department of Entrepreneurial Studies and Management. After the address, teams made up of students from three disciplines created a team ‘contract’ as well as an introduction video to their team and their allocated Ngodini local business.

The session enabled groups to utilise tools to manage the project in terms of time and project management and team data exchange platforms during of the workshop. Furthermore, teams were tasked with identifying key research problems with the purpose of widening the focus area using the BCG Matrix to analyse problems and create a specification or requirements list.

Day two entailed teams presenting their ideas in the workshop. Facilitators provided feedback, encouragement, and points for consideration. After the mid-project review, students engaged in the ‘brainwriting 6-3-5’ exercise to facilitate creative ideas for solutions to the identified problem.

“This is a round robin exercise that produces unique creative ideas through collaboration and brainstorming among team members. This exercise allows for reticent students to express their views. The brainwriting 6-3-5 method enables the application of evaluation methods and idea evaluation matrix as tools to guide a chosen solution to the problem. ‘In a group of 5 students, up to 75 creative ideas can be generated,” added Mrs Yachal du Plessis.

The day concluded with a Gala Dinner and Student Recognition Awards ceremony. The event served two main purposes, that is student empowerment and recognition and to boost project brand image to attract future sponsors and partners for the sustainability of the project. Addressing the attendees, Ms Tabisa Qangule, a lecturer in the Department of Applied Management emphasized the significance of the event.

“When you work hard, you get rewarded, and this is part and parcel of why we are here this evening,” she said.

Giving the keynote address was the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences, Professor Fulufhelo Netswera and Professor Bongani Dlamini, the HOD in the Department of Applied Management.

During the event, students shared their input on the PBL experience. Some students indicating it being the most informative initiative that has them exposed to different individuals that put them out of their comfort zone, to come up with ideas.

The last day of the workshop was characterized by pitching sessions in two breakaways rooms facilitated by lecturers from the Department of Entrepreneurial Studies & Management; the Department of Applied Management; and the Department of Ecotourism. Teams presented actionable strategies based on their allocated Ngodini business which will be incorporated into the upcoming Capacity Building Session scheduled for the 25th to 29th July 2022.

Pictured: Top Left: Ms. Yachal du Plessis, Chief Facilitator of the PBL Workshop. Top Right: Student attendees from three departments. Bottom left: Professor Dumisani Zondo giving the welcoming address. Bottom Right: Lecturers/Facilitators with Professor Fulufhelo Netswera (Executive Dean: FMS), Professor Bongani Dlamini (HOD: Applied Management) and Dr Chili (HOD: Ecotourism).

Thulile Promise Ndlovu

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