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New Developments In Education For The Aggregates Industry

Update on education and training for the industry

By Julian Smallshaw, IQ education and training manager

The Institute has always held the belief that education and training is a life-long opportunity which has to be viewed in the broadest terms, starting with initial qualifications gained at college, university or through distance-learning programmes, and progressing to work-based Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Many people have correctly associated the Institute of Quarrying with the DAPS (Doncaster Assisted Private Study) course. This course originated in the early 1970s and soon became the industry-standard knowledge-based route to management in the extractives sector.

In 2007 the DAPS course was replaced by the University of Derby Diploma in Quarry Technology – a three-year fully accredited national qualification utilizing distance learning. This broke the long ties with Doncaster College, although some of the original lecturers transferred to the new location.

Diploma course content is split roughly 50/50 between quarry-specific operational units (approximately 70), which have been developed and maintained by the Institute, and the remaining mathematics, electrical and engineering units, which are looked after by the University. A quality assurance system ensures that a rolling programme updates units on a regular basis ensuring that both the legislation and technology content is kept up to date.

In a bold move during 2009, IQ decided to pioneer the development of its Diploma materials into an e-learning format in order to provide students with a more immersive learning experience. With the help of the University’s innovative Centre for Educational Development and Media (CEDM), a software package was chosen which allowed the integration of rich media and interactive self-assessment questions. The scheduled programme, although tight, allowed all the quarry-specific Diploma units to be viewed in a web-based format from September 2009.

Distance learning has now reached a new dimension and lets students view content in a way they could never have been imagined before. IQ approached many supply companies within the industry for help in supplying media – for why ‘reinvent the wheel’ when so much content already exists. Generally, companies were only too happy to participate. In addition, IQ created its own video and flash graphics where appropriate.

With such a rich source of knowledge and with the added benefit of web-based interactivity, IQ aims to maximize the use of the Diploma-based units. Since the move to Derby, several additional qualifications have been validated for specific industry use. These include the Certificate in Ready Mix Concrete and the Certificate in Construction Materials.

A partnership with the Concrete Society has seen the further development of a three-module Certificate of Achievement in Concrete Technology, specifically aimed at replacing the old City & Guilds Concrete Technology course.

There have been two further exciting developments during 2010.

First, the University Certificate in International Quarry Operations. With the globalization and rationalization of the industry, IQ has seen the need to build on competence and operational best practice in a wider sense. Existing Diploma-based units have been adapted to an international environment by replacing UK legislation, regulation, custom and practice with international standards and accepted best practice. This has allowed the development of four purpose-designed operational modules covering: Quarry Development and Management Systems; Extraction and Processing; Operational Best Practice; and Quarry Blasting.

All modules are seen in a web-based format with the integration of high-quality media and interactivity. More importantly, they are available 24h a day, seven days a week anywhere in the world. Further developments will take the form of virtual online classroom tutorials, and the potential to use ‘banked’ pre-recorded Diploma tutorials on specific topics in the future. In addition, the Institute’s virtual quarry and workshop in Second Life could be utilized.

The qualification is aimed squarely at quarry managers (operating outside the UK) with a variety of backgrounds, as well as equipment suppliers and consultants to the industry who need to develop a greater understanding of quarry operations. In the first year, students have enrolled from Poland, Romania, Oman, India, Malaysia and the UK, and the course has been very well received, with no real technical problems being experienced.

The next course starts in March 2011 and runs six months ahead of all other extractives-related qualifications. The course format runs in a similar thread to the Diploma, with a systematic release of units over the academic year followed by assignments and tutor feedback. The student will be assessed through a mixture of coursework (30%) and secure exam (70%).

Those individuals or companies interested in participating in this course should seek further information from Julian Smallshaw, IQ education and training manager, by emailing: [email protected]

The second development in 2010 centres on the University Certificate in Quarry Studies. A change in entry requirements has allowed a five-module (one academic year) qualification to be made available to new entrants. The basis of the qualification is focused on quarry operations, similar in many ways to the international certificate, but heavily focused on UK-specific legislation and regulation.

With competence playing such an important role in the industry, now is the time to provide a knowledge-based qualification aimed at personnel at supervisory level. The student will have access to tutorials at the University of Derby and be able to view the same online resources.

The course will not give the necessary knowledge base required for quarry management competence – this is the role of the Diploma (together with vocational qualifications and CPD) – but it will provide a progression route for foremen/supervisors who would like to move to a manager’s position in the future. All five modules will be counted towards a Diploma.

Further developments have centred on the IQ virtual world in Second Life. This three-dimensional environment has been developed over the last two years and now not only includes a quarry, but also a simulated workshop. A hazard-recognition/risk-assessment exercise has been created for use by Diploma students during a tutorial weekend. Teams of individuals will enter the virtual world and assess the environment. The software is able to randomly generate safe or unsafe practices each time a team commences an exercise.

All accredited courses within the University are managed by UDC (University of Derby Corporate), which is the business-to-business arm of the organization. A new purpose-built building (the Enterprise Centre) located in central Derby is home to a dedicated team of specialists, business advisors and course administrators. All student issues are channelled through this route, which offers a much more personal experience than a traditional campus. In addition, the Enterprise Centre facilities are cutting-edge. Dedicated meeting rooms include the latest classroom teaching and learning technologies, and all quarrying, asphalt and concrete tutorials take place in this environment.

Enquiries relating to the Quarry Technology Diploma, Certificate in Quarry Studies and the Concrete and Construction Materials Certificates should be directed to Mark Osbaldeston at the University of Derby by emailing: [email protected]


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