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Digital Capability Lab

Digital Capability Lab


Digital Capability Lab

The world of work has always experienced change, but the rate of change has caused us to rethink how we prepare students for the workplace. Technological disruption in the form of artificial intelligence and automation has begun to significantly alter many workplace tasks. Similar to how mechanisation affected previous generations of agriculture and manufacturing, we anticipate a more persuasive need to adapt to fourth industrial technologies. This disruption has caused academics to rethink what content should be covered in our degree programmes and how it will withstand these disruptive technologies. This next generation can expect to change jobs and professions multiple times across many new emerging sectors and continuously upskill to stay employable.

Traditional universities need to incorporate future-forward learning pathways that are more economical and facilitate faster learning for students to find a path to meaningful employment. Curriculums must embed future-fit programs to make it easier for students and their career development support to keep ahead of the curve. While many of these adaptations are currently underway, the speed of deployment requires an organisation shift in culture and strategy.

As the university builds a future-fit platform for our educational programmes, the University of Pretoria’s Digital Capability Lab forms part of it. The lab is a unique environment for hands-on digital capability building, a test bed for piloting and scaling innovative solutions on- and off-site, and a go-to asset to find expert support on operations, digital, and analytics solutions. The lab uses digital collaboration teaching techniques to equip students with technical, management, and people skills. Students are given real industry problems to solve in an enabling environment with access to industry data, hardware and software used by various industries.

As an advanced training space, the Digital Capability Lab will assist students in applying, exploring, and attempting analytics, digital, and lean solutions. From the classroom to the frontline, the lab empowers students in shifting mindsets and behaviours and infusing theory with technology where it matters. The lab demonstrates the need for boutique education to instil higher-order thinking capabilities. The lab does so by using digital collaboration. This is a teaching method that uses digital technologies for collaboration in the classroom and differs from traditional collaboration as it connects a broader network of participants who can accomplish much more than they would on their own.

Using the lab for digital collaboration, students share ideas and work in small groups. It allows pupils to work on their communication and listening skills. Digital collaboration helps students understand the importance of teamwork and togetherness. In its essence, digital collaboration is collaborating and getting things done using technology and digital devices. Employability is enhanced with improved workplace communication, collaboration, content management, document management, and information flow across an organisation which leads to increased productivity and employee efficiency.

As the lab’s name suggests, it is a space intended to build digital capabilities and not simply skills. It’s important to distinguish between the two as the complexity of building capabilities is somewhat more difficult. Capabilities describe something that has the capacity to be realised but that has not yet been realised. For example, someone can be capable of becoming a manager but has not yet developed the competencies needed to be a manager. The lab, therefore, operates as an environment to build these competencies that our students can perform.

Through digital collaborative learning, students can develop the necessary capabilities in a safe-to-fail environment. Making it safe to fail is crucial because learning happens through experimentation, and experimentation often results in failure. Technology can minimise the consequences of failing, which can often inhibit people from trying something new. The lab offers lecturers and students an easy-to-operate environment equipped with enabling technology.

The lab features an assortment of technical features that enables it to be an environment for hands-on digital capability building and a test bed for piloting and scaling innovative solutions for students. Foremost is the lab’s design and layout, which is built on the premise of digital collaborative learning. Seven workstations with the capacity of seating six students each are fitted with a large display, webcam and high processing NUC. At the front of the lab is a smartboard that supports external HDMI, built-in PC and Android OS. The smartboard also operates as the central PC that can mirror any of the seven workstations.

The lab allows facilitators to stream their class via Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Blackboard Collaborate or Zoom. A tracking camera follows the instructor around the room while the smartboard display is shared on the call as well. Microphones as placed around the room to capture any discussion that may take place.

The lab boasts an internet speed of 1GBPS, and Wi-Fi 6 enabled. Facilitators can share their content via a variety of means as the lab allows casting from Android, Windows or Apple devices.


Centre for the Future of Work

University of Pretoria

How To Work With Us

04 Steps

01. Explore Opportunities:
Begin by researching the University of Pretoria's initiatives and projects related to the future of work. Look for areas that align with your skills and interests.
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02. Engage with Academia:
Connect with faculty and researchers involved in future of work studies. Attend seminars, workshops, and public lectures to network and understand their work.
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03. Collaborate on Projects:
Seek opportunities to collaborate on research projects or initiatives. This could be through internships, part-time roles, or joint research endeavors.
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04. Contribute to Innovation:
Leverage your skills to contribute to innovative solutions addressing future work challenges. This can be through technology development, policy analysis, or educational programs.
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