Applied Learning Department Update – Oct 2022

This quarter has been a busy one for the Applied Learning Department (ALD) and we have been operating at full capacity, with many of staff being off campus visiting our research projects or attending workshops. 

The head of our department, Professor Alan Gardiner, spent two weeks in Mozambique at Coutada 11/Zambeze Delta Safaris to continue with SMART training and troubleshooting. He also assisted with implementing and troubleshooting the data collection for the comparison of the efficiency of the CAKE e-bikes and conventional motorbike used by field rangers.  

Prof Gardiner has also spent time finalising the future Diploma third year Work Integrated Learning projects for submission to the Council on Higher Education (CET) for accreditation.

Another area of focus was the Climate Change and Endangered Species projects which form part of the suite of longitudinal research projects. This quarter Professor Gardiner worked on developing the research questions and institutional agreements with Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA). 

Dr Richard Fergusson, Manager: Research and Development focused primarily on finalising the future Diploma Year one and two content and editing the Study Guides for consistency and quality. He also prepared the sample material for the submission of said Diploma to the CET for registration and accreditation. 

Major projects he has been overseeing include: the Rangeland Management project at Gravelotte supported by Investec; the National Geographic, Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Corporation project for the operation of the SAWC GIS student training; rhino tagging and tracking and the modification of the Training Needs Analysis (TNA) tool for application at the College.

Pieter Nel and Dr Fergusson explaining water infiltration measurements in soils, as an index of soil health to the Mnisi cattle farmers on the CSA Carbon Governance course.

Dr Fergusson has also spent time developing relationships with the African Wildlife Economy Institute (AWEI) and developing the SAWC’s role as the local multiplier for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and The Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) project. The objective being to improve research and innovation capacity in SADC institutions, including Natural Resource Management and Waste Management. 

Researcher, Peter Hamming, is continuing his ongoing work to develop the research questions and methodology for the Endangered Species (Vultures) project for the third year of the future Diploma. He also completed two of the training modules required to be legally recognised as the SAWC drone pilot, as well as the statutory medical examination. 

The training material for the SMART course was updated by the department and then delivered to students from conservation organisations from several SADC countries. 

The department also participated in the ESRI South Africa training course held at the SAWC. This covered some higher-level functions of ARCGIS Pro (mapping software) for GIS technicians and practitioners. 

A big part of the Applied Learning department focus is on Information Technology (IT) focus, with many of the other departments relying on the creation of high-level dashboards. These dashboards facilitate easy feedback for donors and department heads. These include dashboards for: K9 unit, Aerial Unit, Makuleke project and African Field Rangers Training Services as well as institutional dashboards, which support feedback sessions for the audit and risk committee and for the Board.  

Overall, the department is pleased with the progress made this quarter. With much of the groundwork now being complete for the future Diploma, we can shift our focus to our longitudinal research studies and look forward to our next report on these projects.