Hands-on engagement disappeared almost overnight when the pandemic struck. Over a year later, and the new normal is still being established. One of the debates in determining the new normal is whether remote sessions are superior to traditional classroom interactions. In certain instances, there has been student preference towards virtual sessions, whilst other students, especially where infrastructure is required, show a desire to return to their respective campuses. Irrespective of this argument; the world we operate in, as well as teach in, has changed. But what has not changed is the need for us as academics to remain relevant while preparing our students for an ever-changing working environment.
The purpose of this presentation is to assess the mechanisms in place within university ecosystems to aid academics in equipping students with skills required by the global movement towards remote work and hybrid models of employment. The core of which will also be noting what expertise, assistance, tools and technologies are available to this end. In this instance, we do not see physical spaces as a service, rather what they facilitate and how they can be integrated within a teaching context to support our already burdened academics.
To ensure this is contextually relevant, a usage case is then presented to show how learners can be engaged in new ways through such resources. The outcome of which will show their ability to prototype solutions, develop their ingenuity and support career-relevant skills even in a remote setting was enhanced. This stems from key examples from the first academic makerspace in South Africa, which directly engaged with departments to upskill their learners to adopt smart technologies.