on November 23rd, 2021

Thinking of completing a course with EIT? Or maybe you're already part of our student body? Then you will know how impactful a Learning Support Officer can be in ensuring you stay the course.

Hailing from Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, Isabel Sibanda is one of EIT’s trusted Learning Support Officers (LSO).

In this role, she has been able to see students grow their careers, while her own never took a backseat.

She joined EIT in 2013 and this year was promoted to a new role of Lead LSO at EIT. It doesn’t hurt that she’s a favorite among the students she guides during their time with EIT.

It’s even more impressive that Isabel works remotely from Zimbabwe in her office of one and usually only digitally checks in with the South African EIT office and of course the main campus in Perth, Australia.

But, this also gives her insight into the experiences of EIT students completing their courses remotely – and that self-awareness translates to the LSO -student experience where no matter where you are, you matter.

We asked Isabel some questions about what it means to be an LSO and she gave some sage advice for current and future EIT students.

EIT LSO, Isabel Sibanda, sitting at her desk.
Isabel behind her desk. Picture supplied.

What is your background and how long have you been with EIT?

I have been with EIT since February 2013. When I started working at EIT I worked as a telemarketer, I then moved to a workshop and conference coordinator and currently I am an LSO.

Break down what you do in a day?

There is a lot involved with the role. Generally, I like to start with answering any student and internal email queries. Thereafter I make sure Moodle and TrussRTO are all up to date (general course management). I set dates to complete certain tasks like monitoring students at risk, progress questionnaires and any other that an LSO would not do daily.

How is it to work with international colleagues and also with students from different countries?

This is quite interesting actually. When I start my working day, my colleagues Holly and Lucy would have left for the day. Students take some time to understand why some LSOs are not based in Perth, but they adjust as the course progresses.

What are the most common question students ask, and how do you guide them?

Students ask a wide range of questions at different parts of the course. The common query for students who would have just started a course would be understanding Moodle, Blackboard and converting the UTC time to their local time zone. I like to send screenshots explaining what students need to do. If the information is available on Moodle I point them in the direction where they can get this.

What do you feel when student’s you’ve worked with reach their educational goals?

This always brightens up my week, not just the day. I particularly like to see the bulk of the students on each intake graduating. They are always so pleased with themselves and the program and are normally very optimistic about the future considering they would have added a valuable qualification onto their CVs. This shows the impact the courses have on the students’ lives.

What is the most surprising aspect of being an LSO people would never guess?

That we are not engineers! I have had to explain to a lot of people who ask me about EIT and my role that I am not an Engineer and that we have people qualified to deliver and assess the courses. We do the behind the scenes work mainly.

You obviously talk to a lot of people in the day, how do you use any time you have to yourself?

Netflix and snacks in the evening. I like to binge-watch my favorite series while enjoying my favorite snacks. My daughter makes sure we dance together every now and then too. And going out with friends some weekends.

What is one of your favourite moments as an LSO?

One student from 52883WA Advanced Diploma of Applied Electrical Engineering (Electrical Systems) always put a smile on my face when we interacted. He moved onto BEE and hoped I would be his LSO, he also mentioned he wished to put a face to the emails. He was super-psyched to be a graduate of the year in Perth after he completed his studies. There are quite a few though.

What are your words of encouragement for students?

Persistence is key. Studying for 18 – 24 months or more while you work is not easy. But all you need to do is to keep going, gaining the qualification will be worth it.

What is your favorite motivation to share?

Success is not final, failure is not fatal – it is the courage to continue that counts.

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