UPDATE ON STUDENT AND PROGRAMME SUPPORT – MARCH ’24

By Ashwell Glasson 

Students On-Site 

The College is still abuzz with student activities, and the echo of their voices from the lecture rooms. The Protected Area Integrity (PAI) Department is running its flagship Braveheart Ranger Leadership Development Programme (RLDP) with ranger leaders drawn from various conservation agencies. The RLDP focuses on enhancing the leadership of existing and new ranger leaders. The College’s commitment to lifelong learning for rangers and conservationists forms part of our core belief in our motto, “Training beyond boundaries.” 

These boundaries are not just geographical but also psychological, and we help grow and inspire conservationists to stretch their skills, passion, and ideas in new and innovative ways. This approach supports our applied learning strategy to make meaningful changes to the individual lives of our students. The learning journey is reciprocal for the College, as many of us learn from the students. The magic and power of the College’s learning also lie in the diversity of the student body. Having students drawn from across the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region learning and working together provides a potent opportunity to share knowledge, insights, and common challenges they may face in their protected areas. 

The first quarter of the academic year has been busy for our Student Administration and Programme Support Department with the arrival of the certificate programme students. The students are nearly at the end of the first quarter, with many focused on assignment preparation and group work.  

Transformative Initiatives 

A significant project that we are working on is a new student database with the support of our Information and Communications Technology (ICT) team. Like most Higher Education and Training Institutions (HET) globally, we face the ever-shifting landscape of technology-mediated learning and how we utilize the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to benefit our students and our research initiatives.  

The SPS has begun the roll-out of the Turnitin software for plagiarism-checking and will expand its benefits across multiple education and training programmes. Added to this is the growing role of “blended learning”, a hybrid of contact training and online learning. For most conservationists, resource managers, and rangers, practical training is crucial to their learning and professional environments, where their applied skills make all the difference in natural resource management. 

Another project that we are working on is the replacement qualifications and new learning programmes for our ranger training department. The education and training regulators have developed new standards and qualifications for rangers, which will be registered, thus replacing our historical Field Ranger skills programme at the College. The College has been part of designing the new national curriculum and is already developing new manuals, assessments, and related training requirements to continue our ranger training. 

Our next project focuses on the further changes that we will have to implement for our instructors, lecturers, and staff from a training perspective to prepare them for the new curriculum and Education Technology (EdTech) they will be managing. As always, we focus on training and developing our internal staff to effectively deliver and engage our students in a meaningful and high-impact fashion. The library and resource centre are for students and our staff, who can receive training on computer skills right through to study support if they are undertaking their studies through other institutions.  

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