Dr Dominic Mentor, a researcher and organisational leadership and development practitioner, is passionate about utilising online and mobile technology to promote learning and social connectedness.
Currently he is the director: learning and employee training at a data governance financial technology start-up in New York.
Before receiving a Fulbright scholarship to pursue a doctoral degree at Columbia University in New York City (NYC) in 2005, Dominic was an English teacher at schools such as Groenberg Secondary School in Grabouw and Gordon High School in Somerset West as well as a lecturer and researcher at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
An MPhil degree designed by Emeritus Professor Rainer Kussler drew him to Stellenbosch University (SU) in 2000. The degree, which focused on hypermedia for language learning, asked how language learning could take place or be improved using hypermedia technology. Dominic graduated cum laude in 2002.
“It was a beautifully crafted course and it suited my interests at the time. It was a precursor to what people do with e-learning management systems today.”
While pursuing his MPhil, Dominic also worked at SU’s IT department where he picked up valuable insights and experiential knowledge from highly skilled co-workers.
Before deciding to continue his studies in the USA, Dominic did a national study of the state of e-learning at higher education institutions in South Africa.
“At that stage, no-one was really thinking of mobile technology for educational use, while in the USA there was some amazing work being done with palm pilots to track children’s reading literacy skills.”
While studying towards his PhD, he initiated and co-designed the USA’s first mLearning graduate class and was a co-creator of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Adult Education Social Media Fellowships. The goal of this collaborative project conducted between academia and city government was to use innovative social media tools and techniques to extend the learning opportunities of adult learners.
Dominic is especially proud of the work he did at Year Up, a workforce learning and development programme for economically disadvantaged young adults. He received the 2014 Optimas Gold Award from Workforce Magazine for creating and enacting a vision and strategic direction for the organisation which provides young entry-level talent to various corporations. The introduction of blended E&M learning into the programme won the 2015 International E-Learning Association Award in the academic division.
Although he spends most of his time in a corporate environment these days, he still teaches a few courses that he designed at Columbia University.
Dominic believes a lot of the research and work he has done in the mobile and e-learning space in the USA could be reproduced in South Africa.
“I definitely want to come back and work with universities, corporations, non-profit organisations or a combination of these to deliver a variety of workforce development initiatives through online and mobile learning solutions in the South African space.”
- By Pia Nänny -