To improve ease of access to education and training courses as well as pass rates in the South African construction sector, cement and concrete technical services provider The Concrete Institute’s (TCI’s) School of Concrete Technology launched its online e-learning platform in January.TCI
MD Bryan Perrie notes that level 41 and 42 courses, covering general principles of concrete technology and practical applications respectively, have been a mainstay of TCI’s education and training offering. These have traditionally been correspondence-based self-study courses, which prepare delegates to sit the Concrete Technology and Construction Stage 2 and Stage 3 examinations set by the London-based Institute of Concrete Technology.
Perrie explains that the completion of the level 41 and 42 courses, following completion of the level 10, 20 and 30 courses, is an important prerequisite for delegates who wish to study towards the ultimate goal of the Advanced Concrete Technology diploma offered by the Institute of Concrete Technology. The School of Concrete Technology will offer the diploma programme again in 2018, in Midrand.
However, delegates often do not realise how crucial it is to complete the coursework to pass the level 41 and 42 examinations and, thus, tend to be ill-prepared, resulting in low pass rates, Perrie points out.
To improve the pass rates, TCI has taken advantage of technology advancements and converted the courses to an online platform. Perrie explains that, once delegates have registered and paid for the course, they receive course notes online. These are subdivided into smaller, manageable modules with tests at the end of each section.
“This helps to encourage continuous learning, as delegates cannot progress to the next section of notes without proving their competency in the previous section by passing the test. “In this way, they are encouraged to . . . re-read sections they are struggling with until they are able to answer the questions correctly.”
TCI also tracks delegates’ progress through the online platform to ensure that they have undertaken adequate preparation before sitting the exam. Perrie points out that this is particularly useful in cases where an employer is paying for employees to complete the course, as the TCI can provide an alert if delegates are not upholding their obligation to undertake adequate exam preparation.
He further highlights that the online platform provides the institute with the scope to expand its education and training offering beyond South Africa’s borders. TCI is currently in discussions to set up an examination centre in Kenya, and Perrie is confident that this will be the first step in further expansion into the continent. The institute will also aim to expand the online learning format to its other courses in due course.
“We have gone to great lengths to make the online learning interface as user friendly as possible and have received positive feedback so far. Obviously, there have been a few teething problems, but we are being very proactive in identifying and working through them. The first group of learners to use the online platform will write their exam this month and we are eager to see the positive impact that this development has had.”
A new one-day course, a Level 15 Concrete for Batchers and Batch Plant Staff, will also be offered this year by the School of Concrete Technology, in partnership with the Southern African Ready Mix Association (Sarma). The course will be pre- sented by Sarma and offered in Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.