While the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted daily teaching processes and sparked the need for alternative learning methods, the growing popularity of e-learning and digital training platforms for minors is not surprising. .
Working to provide a simple and consistent approach through specialized platforms, New Leaf Technologies took on the challenge of creating an engaging learning process for the mining industry through the use of various tools such as video, interactive elements or animation.
While creating virtual classrooms, the company’s ambitions include rewarding industry “students” with immediate access to instructors, peer-to-peer experience, and team collaboration to try to make an impact. sustainable.
Yoana Cholteeva (YC): Can you tell me a little more about the challenges caused by Covid-19 which have prompted the need for more e-learning programs in South Africa?
Mike Hanly (MH): The mining industry has certainly been involved in digital for some time, but the Covid-19 pandemic has really changed things and catapulted it into the future. Operators had to think quickly and it was no longer possible for them to bring people into the classroom for face-to-face training.
During the early stages of Covid-19 there was certainly a panic situation where everyone was jumping online and using whatever they could, Zoom or Microsoft Teams, but it was truly a nightmare trying to handle that sort of thing. From my perspective, it was important to have communications and to make sure that everyone is in the same place and handling the valuation aspect, so there was a very short type of stock gap measurement.
What has really happened now is that the mining industry has realized that digital learning is not just for this type of crisis management, but also has long term benefits. So there are huge cost savings for mining organizations.
There are a lot of compliance, health and safety regulations that must be followed, and a lot of paperwork when visiting a mine from a contractor’s perspective. So it really created an opportunity.
For example, an entrepreneur has to go to a mine and normally he would attend a one hour health and safety presentation before being logged in through the portal; that sort of thing cannot be done outside.
Maybe with alternative tools it can now be done the night before doing the required assessments, checking the necessary boxes and completely streamlining this process. In turn, the miners themselves, as long as they have access to a device and certain data, can do much of the learning in their spare time at home, anywhere.
YC: What are the unique characteristics of New Leaf’s training content?
MH: New Leaf technologies is an end-to-end solutions provider; we usually speak with a customer and check what technology the card has for delivery. We would also look at learner profiles and learner accessibility.
So we would do an analysis of their current situation and then make some suggestions as to what kind of technology would suit them best. And that can be a completely cloud-based technology, or if they don’t have internet access, then we might consider an on-premise solution.
We ourselves are not really content specialists, we help mines take the content they already have and deliver into classrooms, which a lot of times is theirs. employee shareholding plan, and we help them digitize this material into a learning experience.
We have a catalog of around 20,000 forces through our network of partners that we can add to platforms as needed. We can take these little learning nuggets on these short courses and fit them into a learning journey.
So it really depends on their requirements, their level of advancement compared to their own training material, whether they have outsourced the training, who owns the intellectual property, those kinds of things.
YC: What specific challenges do you face when digitizing content desired by minors?
MH: Well, I think the most important thing is that very often we get facilitated content from a client that an instructor in front of a class would go through, and we have to transform that experience and try to make it as close as possible to that. in e-learning. We must therefore think while thinking of the learner.
This process is called instructional design, or learner experience design is probably a better term to use. It’s about going through that content, we dig deep into it, we think about how our learner could best absorb that content. In a classroom environment, a teacher might give an example with a case study or something that might get them thinking.
We also try to incorporate that kind of element into it, to get a deep understanding of the content. We avoid a lot of repeating what is in the PowerPoint presentation that the facilitator is using.
So what we’re going to do is take a look at this document, add some supporting stories to it, and then we’ll really decide what elements need to be included, a quick video might explain that better. Or maybe there must be an accompanying animation that tells the story, or there must be a puzzle that helps.
YC: Can you tell me a bit more about your web-based learning management system?
MH: We have a core product of which we are the exclusive distributors in Africa and the Middle East, but we have the ability to sell it all over the world. This system, called New Spring, was developed in the Netherlands and is an advanced learning experience platform with unique features, which allow for customization and adaptability.
In other words, if a learner has a knowledge gap, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) provides them with content related to that knowledge gap. If a learner has a very good skill level and doesn’t need to learn something because they already know it, then the AI ââwill remove that content from the learning path, so that they don’t have to need to waste time.
If you have already understood 70% of it, you just need to do the 30% that you do not understand. And if I only know 30%, I have a lot more to learn to reach the same level.
None of us have to do 100% of the course, we just have to do the parts we don’t know. Then when we do an evaluation, we both get the same results, or very similar results. If you think about it and translate that into the business world, it means that learning can be cut to a third of the time it used to take. And this time is linked to money.
YC: What are your visions for the future role of eLearning in South Africa?
MH: Technology is advancing at this exponential rate, but I think it’s probably still in its infancy. Who knows what’s around the corner.
Now we have to make sure people are on it all the time, it’s not just a dip and a pullout. The industry needs a certain degree of deep learning, which the technology can really support and innovate.
At New Leaf Technologies we don’t just limit ourselves to mining, but I think the mining industry as a whole is really great and I think South Africa is on par with the rest of the world, embracing the technology.
We have all kinds of constraints, restrictions and problems. We are struggling with the supply of electricity, with the costs and with the availability of data, but I think South Africa has the potential to become a global leader in e-learning technology in the mining sector.
It is also interesting that in the last few months we have received inquiries from Canada, Australia and the United States and I think it will be fantastic. In the future, this is an exciting space to be in.