Mangosuthu University of Technology tackles the challenges of assessing 21st century skills

With student assessment and standards in sharp focus, this year’s MUT Teaching and Learning Colloquium which will be held at the Hilton Hotel in Durban on 5-6 May, 2016 will bring together University staff, academics, researchers and international experts. The 2016 Teaching and Learning Colloquium, organised by the Teaching and Learning Development Centre (TLDC), focuses on “Teaching and Assessing 21st century skills.” The event, now in its fifth year will also feature the Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence awards that honour academics who have demonstrated exemplary and inspiring teaching in their respective disciplines.

Assessment is central to the formulation of standards and it is vital for Universities to get it right.

This year’s keynotes, Professor Mark Schofield and Dr Mark Hay will give audiences much to ponder on. Professor Schofield will look at assessment being one of the most persistent challenges in higher education. His presentation will attempt to raise issues, provoke discussion and to seek and share solutions related to experiences of assessment “that works.” Dr Hay will look at the phenomenon that Universities risk becoming irrelevant and irresponsible if they don’t equip staff to deal with the digital age. His address will focus on the tyranny of conventional wisdom, particularly in education, where “disruptive innovation” is forcing people to reconsider the very foundations of teaching and learning.

TLDC’s Dr Manyane Makua said the bigger challenge for higher education globally is the challenge of relevance. “It’s the challenge of impact, significance and currency. The questions higher education must continuously answer relate to the quality of the students we produce and the extent to which they will be able to deal with the challenges posed not just by the professional environment external to their learning institutions, but by the 21st century context itself. Dr Makua added: “University teachers and professors who trained decades ago often find themselves at a loss in terms of current technological demands. We can’t continue to teach from notes we used five, ten or even 20 years ago; we can’t continue to teach and assess in the same way we were taught and assessed. It’s also not possible to ignore the fact that the presentation of textbooks has evolved from hard copy formats to the ubiquitous e-book.”