Transdisciplinary approach for teaching and learning

Posted on October 29, 2021

The Covid pandemic has forced academics to rethink how to go about their teaching activities. A particular challenge faced has been with practical courses where students were not able to travel to attend face-to-face practical training. To address this problem, Prof Matjila, head of the Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases approached postdoctoral research associate Dr Calayde Davey from the Department of Architecture in the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology to explore mixed/augmented/virtual reality for teaching and learning applications. Dr Davey is involved in the creation of African digital twin cities, an initiative to provide a virtual, real-time model of a city where the urban fabric (e.g. buildings and streets) and resources (e.g. water, traffic, electricity) are tracked in real-time to improve the management of these resources.

Dr Davey organised for a team from the veterinary faculty to visit the Virtual Reality Centre at the Department of Mining Engineering, where a 3-dimensional 360-degree immersive visualisation platform was demonstrated. Koos de Beer and his team from the Virtual Reality and Interaction Lab demonstrated other virtual reality projects, such as a checklist system for a mobile manufacturing unit.

In turn, Dr Kate May organised for colleagues from the Hatfield campus to visit the Skills Laboratory at the Veterinary Faculty. Projects, such as the creation of digital 3D models of ectoparasites using photogrammetry were discussed.

A further visit was organised to the new Engineering 4.0 building where Prof Wynand Steyn, the head of department and PhD civiltronics candidate, Andre Broekman, demonstrated LoRaWAN, a wireless communication and sensor network, and artificial intelligence projects. Research opportunities using this technology, such as the real-time, remote monitoring of animals and animal movement and the artificial intelligence identification of haemoparasites in blood smears were discussed.

The transdisciplinary approach to teaching and research has proved to be very useful, with many exciting projects on the horizon. The discussion of ideas and projects with colleagues from other disciplines encourages a move away from a “silo” mentality and fosters collaboration.

   
- Author Prof Melvyn Quan
Published by Linda Poggenpoel

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