Nelson Mandela University was the destination for the empowering e-learning training for five Taita Taveta University staff (11 – 14 June 2024), organised by the Digital Initiative for African Centres of Excellence (DIGI-FACE) and CEMEREM.

Touring Summerstrand, Eastern Cape, where Nelson Mandela University is located, ignited a quest to rediscover the vast opportunities in the hospitality industry and digital connectivity as well.

A Rediscovery of Hospitality and Digital Connectivity

Over the period 11-14 June 2024, five staff from Taita Taveta University (TTU) attended e-learning training at Nelson Mandela University as part of the DIGI-FACE initiative. Eduroam and the robust technology infrastructure facilitated a hybrid training environment, ensuring a seamless experience for all participants. The excellence in digital connectivity here reminded me of advanced systems in Germany, yet seeing such innovation and efficiency in Africa was heartening.

The trainers, led by Prof. Paul Webb, were undisputedly wonderful and hospitable, taking us through Moodle and the diversity of training and learning resources in the oceanic online pool of Canva, H5P, etc. The goal was to build online learning content by chunking the modules we had prepared beforehand. For TTU, this step is a milestone that elevates the young university to the league table of universities conscious of the digital learning demands of the post-pandemic era.

Nelson Mandela University, North Campus. Photo credit: Nashon Adero, June 2024

A group photo of DIGI-FACE trainers and TTU staff at Nelson Mandela University

Along the route from Kenya to Port Elizabeth through Cape Town, the imposing sierra visible from the Cape Town Airport provided breathtaking vistas that set the tone for the adventure ahead. The hilly landscape’s similarity to Voi’s scenic surroundings, in Taita Taveta, Kenya, was a striking lesson in fractal geometry.

Attractive hilly landscape as visible from Cape Town Airport, mimicking the Voi landscape in Taita Taveta, Kenya. Photo credit: Nashon Adero, June 2024

Summerstrand: A Showcase of Spatial Planning

As a student of applied spatial sciences, I found the spatial planning implementation along Admiralty Way in Summerstrand, where we lodged for the days at Admirals Lodge, another remarkable aspect of the visit. This organised space is a testament to effective urban planning, seamlessly integrating commercial, residential, and recreational spaces. The well-thought-out design and efficient use of space contribute significantly to the region’s appeal, making it a model for urban development.

We created time for networking and exploratory evening discovery of Summerstrand’s infrastructure, foods, and shopping experience. Not to be confused with Nairobi’s Broadwalk Mall, Port Elizabeth’s Boardwalk Mall offered a similar shopping concept and experience, blending modern amenities with local charm.

Landscape view of Boardwalk Mall, Port Elizabeth. Photo credit: Nashon Adero, June 2024

Final Remarks

The future of learning, especially at higher learning institutions, is undisputedly digital, flexible, and tailor-made to suit the varying needs of growing and diverse populations. Consequently, digitalisation is a timely theme for CEMEREM and the other centres of excellence in Africa supported through the DAAD.

To the TTU staff, one leg of the journey ended, but it was only the end of the beginning of a much weightier responsibility of ensuring that they create digital and interactive learning and teaching contents. Rightly, they must lead the rest of the staff in developing similar digital teaching and learning contents. Rediscovering the inspiring examples was more than just a trip; it was an eye-opening experience that highlighted growth and potential. Much appreciation and gratitude goes to CEMEREM and DIGI-FACE for this empowering initiative towards realising digital fluency in higher education.

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  1. Andrew Thuo says:

    It was lovely to be involved in this training. I hope the content was valuable and effective for everyone. If there are any questions or additional support needed, please feel free to reach out. I am always here to help and ensure that the learning experience is as enriching as possible. Thank you for your participation and engagement.

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