Preparing the future workforce in African universities of technology: A case of new media art as a mutating discipline in the 4IR

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Design Education Strategy

Keywords: 

  • arts and design education, African university of technology, 4IR, new media art, post-phenomenology

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The industrial revolution, a steady process of change that started in the eighteenth century, has been characterised as presenting different phases. The fourth phase (4IR), which signals an unprecedented convergence of physical, digital and biological spheres into technological forces, is transforming jobs faster than employees can adapt, and setting the base for a different kind of skill. Hence, everyone, including arts and design educators, are asking similar questions about its potential challenges and opportunities in their fields, particularly in the African universities of technology that place emphasis on career-directed courses. One of the questions revolves around the issue of how 4IR will affect the visual arts ecosystem in general and specific to types of skills required, production processes, theory, epistemological curiosity, intellectual tools, authorship, commodification, representation, distribution, among others. Furthermore, it is thought provoking to realise, through literature search that not much is written about the potential challenges and opportunities in the context of visual arts at universities of technology in Africa. Against this backdrop, this paper explores the changing landscape of the supply and demand of skills and how arts and design education can respond to this inevitable change. Using new media art as a case study, the exploratory case study employed post-phenomenology to interrogate the mediating effects of the technological revolution in shaping the new media art discipline. This was achieved through a content analysis of secondary data. In response to these mediating effects, the study proposed a framework that could help create access to new skills sets that would equip students to face the new markets and opportunities.

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