Kirsty Chadwick

Kirsty CHADWICK Students can use tablet computers to visualise difficult concepts, revisit lectures in their own time and augment lessons with videos, interactive widgets and animations

Tablet computers could be the solution to the lack of locally trained professionals in the African mining industry, says custom training solutions for the mining sector developer The Training Room Online.

African mine engineers, geologists, metallurgists, geophysicists and geochemists are lacking for a number of reasons, including a lack of resources and, in some cases, training being unavailable, it adds.

There are a number of major challenges facing training in the mining sector in Africa, including a lack of infrastructure, a high ratio of students to teachers, poor basic education and, in some cases, a lack of institutions offering this kind of training.

Zimbabwean corporate coach and career adviser Godfrey Madanhire says other major factors contributing to the skills gap in the mining sector in Africa are school leavers’ poor science, technology, engineering and math skills, combined with poor literacy and language skills that make comprehending highly theoretical subjects at university very challenging.

Madanhire is running a series of workshops in universities across South Africa to help to address the fact that up to 75% of first-year students drop out. He has found that the students he works with, who are from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, become discouraged when their literacy and language skills prevent them from understanding concepts that they would otherwise comprehend quite easily.

“To pass, many of these students need to spend hours on their notes just understanding the language before they can understand the actual content. “This is why visual aids are so very important,” adds Madanhire.

The Training Room Online educator Kirsty Chadwick says that teaching methods, such as e-learning, are cost-effective, assist overburdened educators and bridge literacy and language gaps by bringing technical subjects to life visually.

“Students can use tablet computers to visualise difficult concepts, revisit lectures in their own time and augment lessons with videos, interactive widgets and animations, increasing the effectiveness of training and lectures by demonstrating difficult concepts – or concepts they struggle to understand owing to language barriers – visually,” says Chadwick.

“E-learning isn’t limited to tablet computers. “While they are highly effective tools for learning, there are a number of alternatives,” she says, adding that e-learning is about finding the best solutions for an organisation and its unique target audience, which does not necessarily mean using a smart device. No two situations are alike.

“Desktop computers, smartphones, satellite television broadcasts and even digital video disks can be used exclusively or in combination with classroom learning inexpensively and effectively,” she concludes.

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