Introduction- other types of explosives, bulky emulsion explosives before

Introduction-
context

Society has
continued to witness technological innovations as well as developments which
have brought about massive societal change. Surprisingly, there has been
limited impact of technology on education (Bull, et al, 2005). This essay will
describe my work context. The essay will outline learners profile, digital
literacies, mandate, programs offered, duration and mode of study, policies,
digital technologies and collaborations with other institutions. Further, the
essay will identify an educational technology intervention or learning teaching
challenge or opportunity and discuss how the identified gap could be addressed
using emerging technologies. Finally, a small teaching and learning project
will be taken that is enabled by digital technology.

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I work for
Sasol Zambia. The company is located in Kitwe along Kalulushi Road near the turnoff
road to Mindolo Dam. Sasol
deals in chemicals and energy and has a workforce of over 30 100 people who
work in 33 countries (Sasol limited, 2016). Sasol Zambia operates
explosives storage facilities for packaged and bulky emulsion explosives. The
company supplies both packaged and bulky emulsion explosives as well as
detonators predominately to Mopani Copper Mines Plc.

 

Unlike the
other types of explosives, bulky emulsion explosives before they can be used in
charging operations they are mixed with two other products namely sensitizer
and LX. These processes are carried out by trained and authourised operators
who operate the mobile explosives manufacturing plants. According to the Sasol
document entitled “Investing in our people” the company is committed to raising basic competency levels and
developing technical skills (Sasol limited, 2016).

 

In order to be
authorised to operate the mobile explosives manufacturing plant, operators
undergo Mobile and Electrical UDS operator training course. This course
consists of theoretical and practical training which last for a period of three
days. Theoretical training and formative assessments run for a period of two
days at Sasol Zambia offices. On the third day, practical training is conducted
at Mopani underground mine site. Thereafter, trainees are attached to trained
and authorised operators at the mine site for a period of a month for further
practical training before they can be given summative assessments and subsequently
being authourised and being given an operator’s permit. This kind of training
is repeated every two years. I am responsible for the training and assessment
of operators.

 

Trainee
operators are miners who are usually merely nominated by their superiors and
have different digital literacies compounded by humble academic qualifications.
Predominantly, these trainees come with no tertiary education.  It is also suffice to mention that most of
them normally have difficulties in writing. However, they are able to use
mobile phones without any difficulties and most of them own smart phones and
iPhones.

 

Identified
gap, problem/ opportunity

 

There is a
problem when it comes to writing and marking the formative assessments because
many trainee operators have challenges in writing. The practice is that after
the theoretical training, trainee operators are given a two and half hours
theoretical formative assessment. This exercise does not serve its intended purpose
because usually operators would not finish the formative assessment in good
time and marking of the same assessment consumes a lot of time. Thus, this
exercise leaves the trainer with limited time to make judgments about the
individual trainee’s performances especially that the following day the
trainees are taken for practical training underground. Passing the theoretical
assessment is a prerequisite for one to undergo practical training. Therefore a
gap exists in the answering of assessments by trainee operators because they
have challenges in reading and writing. In addition there is a problem in
marking and making judgments about each trainee operators’ performances in
assessments on account of having very limited time to do so.

 

How
the project was piloted

The
identified problem was communicated to the operations manager who is in charge
of operator training who also appreciated that the gap existed. I suggested to
the operations manager that emerging technologies could be used to solve the
identified problem.  Permission was
granted to carry out this project. I identified an application known as Quizizz
as a solution to this problem. The features of this programme are that it
permits the trainer to conduct student-paced formative assessments though in a
fun but engaging manner. Further, it allows students of all ages to play it
using their own devices such as personal computers, laptops, tablets and
smartphones.

 

Therefore,
I created a profile in Quizizz for myself as a trainer so that I could have
teacher rights to create quizzes. Following the successful creation of an
account profile, I created an operator trainee formative assessment in Quizizz.
The assessment was further enhanced with features of Quizizz namely pictures.
In no time, a class was constituted for operator emulsion manufacturing plant
course. However, for this pilot project the participants were drawn from among
Sasol employees namely explosives engineers; explosives technicians and plant
maintenance personnel who were on site. This was because there was no schedule
to train operators from the mine at the time of the project.

 

I
invited the participants to join and play Quizizz. Having all participants
successfully joining the Quizizz formative assessment, the assessment was
carried out within twenty minutes. Thereafter, I invited the participants to
bring out their sentiments about the e-formative assessment. The following were
the sentiments from the participants. Firstly, all the participants observed
that the formative e-assessment using the application known as Quizizz was able
to solve the problem of manual marking and writing which was time consuming.
The participants indicated that it was faster to do an online assessment than
it is to do a printed assessment. Further, it was mentioned that e-assessment
would help to eradicate cheating in an exam as the questions were not in the
same sequence for every participant but rather randomised. In addition, it was
learnt that e-assessments using Quizizz would reduce institutional running
costs because it eliminates the use of paper and printing facilities for making
printed assessments.

 

Furthermore,
participants were able to bring their own devises that is; laptops and smart
phones which was an advantage to the institution as well as the participants.
For example, the institution did not have strain to provide digital devises for
its participants and the participants didn’t have challenges to use their
devises because they already knew how to operate them. Besides, the
participants asserted that the fact that feedback was almost immediate in this
kind of assessments it could help both the learner and the teacher to measure
the progress of learning. Learners will quickly know where they needed to work
hard and also teachers will clear misconceptions and subsequently this might
prompt the teacher to change the teaching strategies. Lastly, it was seen that the
marking of e-assessment was not questionable in terms of fairness. The
objectivity of the assessment was not doubtful but rather fair. However, the
participants of the project indicated that the assessment to a lesser degree
would disadvantage the   learners in the
sense that once a question is answered one cannot make a correction.  By and large, all participants who took part
in this project expressed satisfaction with this formative assessment tool and
suggested that top management in South Africa should be informed about it so
that it could be adopted as an assessment tool.                 

 

Review
of relevant literature

Gikandi et al. (2011)
defines formative assessment as the processes of finding out what, how much and
how well students are learning in comparison to the learning objectives and
expected outcomes so that we are able to inform formative feedback and support
further learning. The importance of formative assessment cannot be over
emphasised. To begin with, Beata (n.d) observes that besides reviewing how and
what students wish to study as well as how much time they assign to different
tasks and learning resources, formative assessments play a key role in
enhancing learner motivation allowing learners to reflect on their learning,
clear misconceptions and assess their rate of progress. The purpose of
formative assessments according to Bloom (1969) is to give feedback and
correctives at each stage in the teaching-learning process to the learners as
well as the teachers. Hence, formative assessment is of paramount importance to
the teacher and the learner as outlined above.

 

Beata (n.d) asserts that
combination of formative assessment with technological tools has given rise to
formative e-assessment which Pachler et al (2009) defines as “the use of ICT to
support the iterative process of gathering and analysing information about
student learning by teachers as well as learners and of evaluating it in
relation to prior achievement and attainment of intended, as well as unintended
learning outcomes, in a way that allows the teacher or student to adjust the
learning trajectory. Geoffrey (2011) adds that in e-assessment digital devices
such as desktop computers or laptops, smart mobile phones, iPads or through the
use of electronic gaming devices are used to assist in the following tasks
namely, construction, delivery, storage or reporting of student assessment
tasks, responses, grades or feedback. Thus, in e-assessment feedback is given
almost immediately after an assessment has been completed by the student which
saves time and resources.

 

Advantages and
Challenges

Technology-enhanced assessments offer a number of
advantages. Geoffrey (2011) asserts that
e-assessments have the advantages of being efficient, effective, authenticity
and engaging which facilitates engagement and motivation for learning. To
start with Nuha et al (2018) argues that student’s preference of e-assessment
to traditional printed assessment is as a result of having more control,
friendly interfaces and tests such as games and simulations, which look like
learning environment and recreational activities.  Therefore, Marriott
and Lau (2008) contend that e-assessments are useful in the sense that they
enhance students’ engagement and motivation for learning. According to Leung et
al (2008) in Baleni (2015) it has been brought to light that students learning
for a multiple-choice assessment concentrate on understanding and comprehension
as opposed to when preparing for a long-answer-type assessment where they
concentrate on recollection of facts to replicate in their answers. Besides
multiple-choice and continuous-assessment approaches were noted to be the
favoured techniques of assessment by students (Furnham et al. 2011). As such,
Trotter (2016) sees that it is expected that e-assessments inspires engagement,
and escalate motivation and learning. Most of formative e-assessments are
multiple-choice type.

 

It is suffice to state that e-assessments are
effective as they provide feedback immediately. In addition, Geoffrey (2011)
propounds that by providing detailed and timely feedback in formative tasks,
e-assessments have proved to be effective for students because such feedback is
used in subsequent tasks. Therefore, Geoffrey (2011) adds that key concepts
that students must understand in order to build new knowledge can be
highlighted when students complete assessment tasks early in the course. Also,
Pachler et.al (2009) state that speed
of response is often important in enabling feedback to have an effect and that
the ability to give feedback quickly means that the student’s next problem
solving iteration can begin more quickly.

 

Furthermore, Nuha et al (2018) observes that e-assessment
saves a lot of time for the teacher unlike the paper test which consumes a lot
of time to correct each paper. Thus, JISC (2010) adds that e-assessment offers
efficient submission, marking, moderation and data storage processes as a
result feedback is almost instantaneous. Besides, JISC (2010) argues that
e-assessment ensures consistent and accurate results which have prospects to
combine human and computer marking as well as accurate, timely and accessible
evidence on the usefulness of curriculum design and delivery. Besides, Nuha et
al (2018) insinuates that e-assessment can lessen the teacher’s burden to
assess large number of students. Additionally, the teacher is able to give
improved feedback for the students and owing to the direct feedback from
e-assessment the teacher is able to find the misconceptions, which are not clear
and clear them before the exam (JISC, 2010). Consequently, Nuha et al (2018)
contends that there is a reduction in the cost for an institution which
conducts e-assessments for example the institution does not require to print
assessments thus saving on paper.

 

According
to Naha et al (2018), e-assessment reduces student cheating in assessments
because it provides questions in different order. Moreover, in terms of
security, online assessments provides identification checking and password
verification to confirm the identity of student (Naha et al, 2018). Therefore,
this ensures that there is authenticity in the feedback of the assessment.
Besides, Naha et al (2018) observe that e-assessments encourage high order
thinking, one of the educational aims. For example, by participating in
activities such as critiquing, reflection on cognitive processes
and facilitate group work projects.

 

Ridgeway et al (2004) identified several barriers to
e-assessment such as ICT infrastructure and technical skills. Firstly, Ridgeway et al (2004) contends that in
terms of ICT infrastructure, good broadband systems
are desirable particularly for big schools where very high specification
systems should be installed. This will allow for many students to be able to do
e-assessments at the same time without the system getting congested. Many
institutions of learning lack good ICT infrastructure. Nuha et al (2018)
identifies lack of having accessibility to computer and internet by many
students and teachers as barrier to e-assessment. Many institutions of learning
are still lagging behind in acquiring computers and internet facilities.

 

In the second place, technical skills are
needed for both the teachers as well as the learners.  Thus, JISC (2010) adds that institutions and
departments besides being committed to ensuring that there is an appropriate
technical infrastructure  and physical
state there should be a sustainable approach to up skilling both academic staff
and learners. In addition, Nuha et al (2018) asserts that many students and
teachers alike are not experienced with computer or with e-assessment process.
Further, Nuha et al (2018) believes that some teachers or most of them lack
confidence in using online assessments because they are not familiar with
technology or are using e-assessment for the first time.

 

Recommendations

In light of the many benefits that e-assessment provides,
it is recommended that institutions of learning adopt e-assessments in their
curriculum. As a result, students ought to be trained at the commencement of
their studies so that they become familiar with e-assessments. Further,
institutions of learning should have laboratories which are fully equipped and
internet access for all their students. This will enable institutions of
learning to conduct e-assessment successfully. Furthermore, institutions should
ensure that they provide adequate equipment to set up and conduct e-assessment
system. Paramount also is that teachers need to be trained so that they become
confident for using online assessment system. Technology is there to stay hence
educational institutions ought to adopt it in their teaching and learning
processes so that the benefits that it offers could be realised.