Lungi Sangqu - Transforming education
Sangqu aims to make UNISA relevant in the digital era.
Lungi Sangqu, the executive director of ICT at UNISA, discovered computer science back in 1983, when computing was in its infancy. "I loved computer science so much that after I graduated with my degree, I went back and did Computer Science 3."
Sangqu started her career as a junior computer programmer in 1990 and held senior positions at the SAPO, the State IT Agency and the SA Reserve Bank, among others.
At UNISA, she recalls how its infrastructure was buckling under the volume of assignment submissions. "We needed to find a way to return assignments electronically. We went fully online with onscreen marking in August 2013. We automated applications, registration, assignment-marking and electronic submission, and had six courses fully presented online."
However, not all students have access to a device. "As universities, we're using our buying power to negotiate affordable laptops and tablets, which students can buy via our online student portal. We also have 78 community centres where students can access the net affordably."
She aims to provide an ICT platform for the current Open Distance Learning (ODL) business model, which started in 2011 and involves a major refresh of ICT infrastructure. A new strategy is being developed from 2016 to 2030, and Open Distance eLearning (ODeL) is the new business model to support this strategy.
Sangqu believes the use of ICT in teaching and learning is central to the ODeL business model, ensuring that UNISA remains relevant in the digital era. "I want to help universities set up proper working IT functions. If you don't do that, education will become a commercial product.
Unfortunately, universities are taking a long time to transform, and you end up with academics that stay there for years, but are afraid of technology. I want to help them set up IT functions, to speed up transformation."
This article was first published in ITWeb Brainstorm magazine.