When EIT launched its inaugural course – the Advanced Diploma of Industrial Automation – we believed fervently that the content was good. The live, Online Learning teaching methodology, however, was very new and it was embarked upon with some trepidation.
In an effort to gather feedback from our initial foray into online education we recently interviewed Osemudiamen (Ose) Usifoh, a graduate from DIA01. Being members of our alumni you will understand that this indicates the very beginning of things – I believe our latest intake of intrepid students, into this particular advanced diploma, is our sixteenth (DIA16). We were pleasantry surprised to find Ose’s story positive, despite the inevitably unpredictable nature of firsts.
As with many of our students Ose was looking for a course which would provide him with some specific skills and professional development in a particular area of engineering. As an electrical engineering graduate he worked as a system integrator with Intech Automation, in Nigeria, and then moved to Total, a petroleum exploration and production company, where he worked in a range of engineering roles. It was his need to provide technical support to their petroleum production plants and development projects which nudged him towards requiring new competencies in automation; resulting in his enrolment with EIT in 2008. And as he says, ‘The rest is history.’
When quizzed about the usefulness of the course his response seemed a little enigmatic. His initial assertion was predictable; that the course provided him with a ‘deeper understanding of the automation profession, thereby improving my competency to deliver quality service to the various kinds of applications where automation is utilised’. But less foreseeable was his belief that the course was responsible for enabling his versatility on the job; allowing him to move into non-automotive roles and facilitating his usefulness to the company in areas not strictly related to automation.
There are a couple of aspects of learning which are daunting and which keep us, the educators, in awe of our students. To embark on and complete a course of study whilst balancing full time work and family is startlingly brave. The ability to do all this online, without the proximity of fellow students and lecturers, is a monumental achievement, showing incredible resolve and determination. Although EIT has embraced live, online teaching in an effort to ameliorate some of these inherent obstacles, when Ose was asked to respond to a question entailing ‘enjoyment’ I was not very hopeful. A tirade was expected, outlining the relentless rigour of the program, including module assignments and deadlines. Astonishingly, he commented instead on the ‘rich study materials’, ‘the in-depth, practical knowledge exhibited by the instructors’ and most hearteningly, ‘the privilege of using an Online Learning platform which is the most advanced that I’ve come across to date’.
It is indeed gratifying to hear from one of our first students after a significant passage of time and to hear his esteem for a program and teaching methodology which was wrought from very earnest intentions and much hard work.
Our deepest gratitude goes to Ose for his generous responses to our questions. We wish him and all our past students everything of the best for 2014 and beyond.
Lyndon B. Johnson, despite his distraction as the 36th president of the USA, certainly gave some thought to the concept of education – the following is a quote from him:
“At the desk where I sit, I have learned one great truth. The answer for all our national problems – the answer for all the problems of the world – comes to a single word. That word is education”.