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21 May 2019 | Story Igno van Niekerk | Photo Stephen Collett
Digital storytelling
Collaborating for the common good are from left: Willem Ellis, Karen Venter, Dr Deidre van Rooyen, Prof Hendri Kroukamp, Bishop Billyboy Ramahlele, and Dr Johan van Zyl.

Prof Hendri Kroukamp, Dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences quoted the Cat Stevens song I can’t keep it in, to capture the excitement surrounding the opening of a Digital Storytelling Lab on the Bloemfontein Campus on 10 May 2019.

After months of hard work by Dr Deidre van Rooyen, Willem Ellis, Karen Venter, as well as the staff of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Centre for Development Support, the Common Good First lab was completed just in time for the launch attended by about 50 delegates from other South African universities, as well as private and public institutions.

Stories meet technology

In a message, from Prof Puleng LenkaBula, Vice-Rector: Institutional Change, Student Affairs, and Community Engagement, informed the audience that the launch heralded the joining of the old world of stories with the new world of digital technology. Julie Adair, Director of Digital Collaboration at Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland, welcomed the UFS as a partner to this international social innovation collaborative project in a video message. 

Dr Van Rooyen, the project manager for the UFS, explained how she got involved in the Common Good First project, what the benefits of digital storytelling are, as well as what opportunities the lab creates for cooperation between role players involved in social innovation projects. 

Why the Common Good First lab?

The purpose of the lab is to create a digital network to identify, showcase and connect social innovation projects in South Africa to one another and to universities around the world for research, student engagement and learning and teaching. The lab has been fitted with state-of-the-art equipment for recording and digitising the stories that result from social innovation projects.

In a live Skype session with Dr Il-Haam Petersen, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), and some of the recent successes of the digital stories in Philippi in the Western Cape were shared.

Bishop Billyboy Ramahlele, UFS Director Community Engagement did the final honours by cutting the ribbon, declaring the lab open, and sharing the dream that the work done in this lab will contribute to positive relationships and cooperation between the university and the community, in making not only the university, but the country and the world a better place.


News Archive

Teaching has always been in opera singer’s genes
2016-12-26

Description: Albertus Engelbrecht Tags: Albertus Engelbrecht 

Albertus Engelbrecht believes that his predecessor
and mentor at the Odeion School of Music ,
Peet van Heerden, prepared him wonderfully for his task
as Vocals lecturer.
Photo: Jóhann Thormählen

He has captivated audiences from Berlin to Los Angeles with his singing talent for 17 years. Yet, teaching has always been in his genes, and as a child Albertus Engelbrecht dreamed about teaching music someday.

Once, when the opera singer stood on the Free State flats during his MMus studies at the University of the Free State (UFS), he knew this is where he would come.

He has been employed as Vocals lecturer at the Odeion School of Music (OSM) since 1 July 2016 and is now ploughing back his knowledge for students he believes have an incredible passion for singing that is not found even in European vocalists.

Concerts in Los Angeles stand out
Engelbrecht was a lyrical tenor at the Landestheater Niederbayern in Passau, Germany, and was working with students as well as professional singers (in Nürnberg and later Passau). However, he was bitten by the teaching bug much earlier. “When I was a student at Stellenbosch (where he obtained his BMus degree at Stellenbosch University), I discovered I had a love for vocals training,” he says.

He has performed all over Europe and worked with famous conductors such as Philipp Augin (Los Angeles Opera). “The most impressive performance was the New Year concerts in Los Angeles, and specifically the concert in the Walt Disney Concert Hall, with fantastic architecture by Frank Gehry, and housing approximately 2 260 people.”

“When I was a student at Stellenbosch, I discovered that I had a love for vocals training.”

Big boots to fill at OSM
He achieved his master’s degree magna summa Cum Laude at the UFS and received the Fanie Beetge prize for the best postgraduate student. He studied for his master’s degree under Peet van Heerden, with Dr Matildie Thom Wium as supervisor.

Following Van Heerden’s retirement, Engelbrecht had big boots to fill. “The most important thing that I learnt from him as mentor was that the instrument of a vocalist is also the body and soul of that individual – to be able to see the human standing, singing before me.”

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