Steps to Maturity Workshop at BIUST
By Myles Thies
Head of Strategic Services, Eiffel Corp
The Gaborone morning air is warm and bright as we navigate the busy rush hour traffic out of the city. The many large traffic circles dotted around the recently rained on and now bustling capital of Botswana provide an endless example of ‘creative’ driving styles and prove that mini taxi drivers from all over the continent are still the most brazen of all road users. We eventually hit the free air of the A1 and speed passed the myriad of new shopping malls and factories north of the city on the way to Mahalpye.
The roads in this part of the country are relatively new and exceptionally good, evidence of the injection of Chinese money into the Botswana economy. Perceptions about poor African standards are rapidly discarded behind as we hit 120kmph along the litter free highway where regular teams of local workers use simple manual grass cutters to maintain these valuable commerce enabling transport networks. A run in with the local law enforcement for some over enthusiastic use of the accelerator is the only blemish on an enjoyable journey through the green, bush filled, landscape on the way to our focus client of the day, Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) in Palapye just 160km south of Francistown.
Reliving every rally game played on an Xbox we channel Sebastien Loeb with our tenacious little rental and negotiate the recommend short cut sand road with some minor consternation to make it just in time for our 10am appointment. We’re here to deliver our new assessment to various stakeholders at BIUST leveraging Eiffelcorps new services lead approach to eLearning development which we have tilted the Steps to Maturity Programme.
In response to the increasing value and functionality requirements that organisations are being pushed to derive from their technology investments Eiffelcorp has designed a new approach to the way in which our partners leverage their learning technology solutions. The VLE itself is only one component of the learning delivery mandate for institutions. The chosen technology platforms (be it proprietary or open source) integration into a comprehensive picture of eLearning for institutions of higher learning, for profit organisations and professional development functions has to be taken in the context of the strategy, technical & operational capability as well as the required outcomes of the learning and training initiatives in place. This holds true for universities and colleges to businesses and even schools where the digital revolution is disrupting traditional teaching and learning models. Without a fully considered response to the new normal and the way students, learners and also subject matter experts are using technology to develop themselves institutions are at risk of investing in underutilised and over specified solutions that do not meet their learning development goals.
We quickly navigate the pristine BIUST campus which is a site to behold. The stunningly new location is truly state of the art and is bristling with brand new chemistry and computer lab facilities as well as intimate teaching and presentation facilities. Equally, the entire university is abuzz with eager students rushing to classes as we setup our STM assessment in one of the second floor lecture halls.
The initial engagement with any new STM partner is the personalised rubric based assessment. This Eiffelcorp facilitated Q&A session is designed to illicit from those present the development of a current state or picture of the organisations capabilities and highlights strengths, weaknesses and opportunities across an array of relevant criteria like eLearning strategy, technical and support services, teaching & learning alignment as well as quality assurance and content provision among others.
The session is lively and there is much debate and comment from the responsive BIUST audience. By the close we have a strong sense of the areas of eLearning that need to be addressed as well as Eifflecorps commitment to developing a tailored set of facilitated service based improvements that will ensure BIUST reach the highest possible eLearning potential within one to three years.
After some warm goodbyes we depart the campus gates with a smile and feeling that we have already had a positive impact with this initial interaction. Hopefully it won’t be long before we are back at BIUST again delivering those improvements together with them and gathering eLearning success stores to showcase their meteoric growth.
Gunning into second gear and barrelling up to the A1 turn off back to Gaborone we hit the open road again and head off into the big orange and yellow Botswana sunset. No Xbox game was ever this good!