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E-learning and pocket guides

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IN 2005 IDC Technologies , an international training company, not only expanded its existing portfolio, but also ventured into new territory. Twenty-five new workshops have been added to their range of 110 courses, with more in the pipeline.

Some of the new courses added include chemical engineering - new workshops cover the handling of chemicals and the chemical process. In civil engineering a course in structural design for non-structural engineers has been written, plus one on sewage and effluent treatment technologies. Two in the electrical area include HV cable jointing and terminations and electrical substation safety. An advanced workshop on process control is being offered and in mechanical engineering there is a new course on gas turbines.

IDC recently introduced e-learning. Steve Mackay, IDC's CEO, is presently completing a doctorate on e-learning to assist the company overcome the hurdles that this new form of training presents. He believes that, together with traditional forms of training (often referred to as blended learning), e-learning holds the key to an effective, low cost learning method - one which has the potential to reach many more engineers and technicians needing professional development.

Some of the benefits of e-learning include travel reduction for the learner and the cost of the training is significantly lower than in classroom-based learning. The student is able to learn at his/her convenience and in smaller chunks (which assists with the absorption of the material).

The training is compatible with the e-business and existing IT infrastructure and instructors can respond to business requirements quickly and effectively.

Some of the disadvantages which need to be addressed include the lack of actual interaction with other learners and the instructor. It is difficult to impart 'hands-on' experience and together with the fragmentation of the learning process there is the difficulty of motivating the learner to complete the courses.

This year IDC will have presented two conferences in South Africa. The first was in May - The Southern African SCADA and MES Conference. The second is to run in November - The 2005 Emergency Power Supplies Conference. The latter is a topic becoming more crucial in South Africa as power blackouts occur more frequently.

During August this year IDC, together with the publishing group Westwick-Farrow, presented the Regional Roadshow Series. This took the form of an exhibition, but also included training sessions on automation, process technology and instrumentation.

Finally, with its mission to train engineers and technicians around the world, IDC has ventured a little further - into Eastern Europe, the Soviet Asian Republics, North Africa, Canada and has broadened its cover of the Middle East

Apart from the comprehensive range of technical books that IDC publishes, five Technical and Engineering Pocket Guides can be accessed using this link: www.idc-online/pocket_guides, or readers can contact IDC requesting the guides be placed on a CD-Rom and sent free of charge.

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