On 22 July, Dr. Steve Mackay, Dean of Engineering at Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT), spent the day at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), in Pretoria, South Africa. Engineering staff from universities around the country had gathered for a seminar.

Steve was delighted to also welcome two Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) representatives, the President, Mr Cyril Vuyani Gamede and Mr Edmund Nxumalo, Executive Research, Policy and Standards (ERPS).

The universities in South Africa often reach capacity and are obliged to turn large numbers of students away. An online option would allow them to be more inclusive and it could better serve students who live remotely.

Since 2008, EIT has employed a live, interactive online platform of learning, to reach students in over 140 countries around the world. It was the technical tools which underpin this approach to learning that were showcased by Steve, and his colleague from EIT’s IT Department, James Mackay.

The web-conferencing software — which enables the live, interactive sessions — and the student learning management system were both demonstrated.

They also presented the EIT-designed proctoring software. Without this form of invigilation, it would be impossible to check the veracity of examinations completed by students online; it has proved itself even more eagle-eyed than human invigilators.

Another critical aspect of the platform scrutinised closely by all attendees, were the virtual and remote laboratories which connect to real equipment. These practical applications make online education a truly viable approach to learning in engineering.

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