“Data science is a discipline on its own and not many data scientists are readily available to complete the daily functions of learning analytics (LA) at Institutions of Higher learning in South Africa. Many universities, therefore, still need to align the resources and asserts they have to the task (aligning them to the tasks of data management, data use at a higher level and communication of research findings), and the SAAIR conference is one forum that offers the opportunity to harness such skills.” This is an extract from the motivation I wrote for the SAAIR Scholarship.
It was my expectation having received the award, that I will meet leaders in the discipline of Institutional Research (IR), and really learn from them and acquire new skills. This expectation was met, and I am happy with the experience. Twenty fifteen was the second time I attended the SAAIR conference (and presenting at both conferences), but the experience in 2015 was terribly exciting and immensely fulfilling. The SAHELA workshop gave us a brilliant introductory training to advanced use of Microsoft Excel. Presentation from world renowned speakers also really made the experience infinitely great. The presentation on the Predictive Analytics Reporting framework (PAR) was greatly aligned with my expectations of getting a greater idea of applications of Learner Analytics, particularly defining in my own way what a data scientist would be.
I must say that the music at all the socials was very good, and I enjoyed the company of colleagues (both young blood and the greyed). Sitting with the VIPs just made me realize that I am literally standing on the shoulders of giants, and I was greatly encouraged to realize how accessible and willing to share ideas, the most experienced of SAAIR member are.
From my experiences of the SAAIR and with the support that I got, I intend to be a very integral member of the association and I want to build on the success of last year and the year before.
I sincerely thank the executive of SAAIR for having decided to come up with such an innovative scholarship to support young upcoming IR practitioners. It was a great opportunity and I hope it continues. I also would encourage other young IR practitioners to really own up the discipline, to get more involved and apply themselves to make our trait better and better. I am very proud to be a member of SAAIR, and I hope to be a valuable addition to the association.
A special thank you for the conference experience goes to Carin. Her level of professionalism and care really made the scholarship award and the conference experience really beautiful.
Introduction and background
I want to share with you my SAAIR scholarship experience. One morning some time last year 2015, I just arrived in my office, turned on my laptop and to my surprize there was an email inviting people who are interested to SAAIR scholarship. The email was detailing the procedures on how to go about applying for this scholarship. I was so taken and I applied. Part of the condition of obtaining a scholarship one needed to write a not more than three pages essay detailing what you are doing at your work in line with Institutional research activities. I wrote the Essay and attached all the documents that were needed.
One day I was sitting in front of my computer and a special email knocked in my email inbox, to my surprise it was an email from SAAIR admin informing me that I have been awarded a SAAIR scholarship. I will attend SAAIR’s conference free of charge. Conference Registration, flights, accommodation were all going to be paid for.
Life time changing experience
When I arrived in Cape Town and I noticed that I was booked in very good and top hotel with the guest speakers. That alone made me to feel very special. Little did I know that such conference was going to be so special in my life, I was treated like a king. I remember arriving at Casual Pizza & Wine Dinner at Café Blanc de Noir, Brenaissance Wine Estate in Stellenbosch where we had our cocktail, and my name was placed in well prepared table with the dignitaries of SAAIR such as President of SAAIR NICOLENE MURDOCH, JAN BOTHA, HERMAN VISSER, GLEN BARNES, NICKY MULLER, JUAN-CLAUDE LEMMENS
I have never seen my former boss Mr Dwayi being so impressed and I was so encouraged.
My Personal take and gratitude to SAAIR
I want to personally take this opportunity to thank SAAIR for such an exposure. If SAAIR continues doing this, I am certainly sure that the future of this country and all other countries that are parking to these conferences is bright. This country shall never be in need of academics, scholars, data analyst, statisticians, etc. Truly the decisions that are made by executive management of big organization and institutions of higher learning are data centric. I believe that, despite the challenges of managing huge information or data, big data has the potential to help companies improve operations and make faster, more intelligent decisions. This data, when captured, formatted, manipulated, stored, and analyzed can help a company to gain useful insight to increase revenues, get or retain customers, and improve operations.
I was so inspred by the conference and I cannot wait to see myself being one of the great speakers that I have observed in that conference. And I know that to become one of them I need to be capacitated and equip myself in some areas. This is exactly what I am doing I am busy currently. Thank you SAAIR.