Effective skills training is measured through its outcomes and whether defined workforce goals are accomplished. Characteristics that make up ideal training program design include intensive training on real work applications and return workers back to their jobs quickly are agreed upon. However, business constraints often pull training goals away from that complete learning experience that can be achieved through multiple modes of learning.

The Importance of Active Learning

Progression from fundamental skills training toward active learning, which includes learning discussion and individual problem solving, is a proven roadmap that produces the best retention rates. This fundamental outline moves a trainee from an efficient foundational approach to more concrete and effective learning experiences. The underlying premise with this model is that progression is necessary to produce learning and most effectively reach business objectives. Digital training resources help organizations more efficiently train on underlying competencies but can now be exploited to reach business objectives through training by shortening learning progression.

Instructor-led classroom training remains the most prevalent form of training within the industry. The “workshop”–type environment that has the inherent value of a subject matter expert-led discussion that provides opportunities to work through more difficult challenges.

The Growth of Online Training

However, online training platforms continue to grow in popularity as complete training solutions because the online nature of the modality provides flexibility to both the learner and the employer. Online training often fits better within organizational restraints because of its flexibility. As many of us in the industry have witnessed a slight overall shift toward online training, can an online skills training platform ever replace an instructor in a classroom?

Integration of Online and Instructor-Led

While online training is unmatched in efficiency for fundamental skills training, the progression of learning will always require the live application of learned skills and instructor-supported feedback. However, new digital resources enable TPC to remove silos around these two distinct methods of training, producing a blend of efficiency and accessibility with engaging and tailored training attributes. Where these two training processes intersect is where effective and efficient industrial training occurs and trainees achieve a true level of skill gain.

TPC now offers a blended solution that productively delivers classroom seminars through a dedicated web interface with all or some students interacting remotely. The web interface retains classroom features that uniquely make instructor-led training a concrete learning experience, like question-and-answer opportunities, discussions and even breakout sessions. This integration removes barriers of location and travel for subject matter expert interaction that creates an invaluable training experience.

As accessibility is improved we also see a more measurable training environment. Online training provides instant feedback with quizzes, learning checkpoints, and games. These features can now be mixed in with instructor-driven lectures and exercises. The amount of interactivity TPC can build into the course schedule directly depends on the limitations of technology, which is progressing every day.

New Horizons in Simulation-Based and Virtual Reality-Based Training

Bringing online and seminar training together moves training closer to a scalable and effective learning solution. However, plant-specific training and troubleshooting require better “give and take.” Student interaction with machinery and its components is an essential element to mastery of detailed processes. TPC is exploring and developing virtual reality and simulation-based training solutions that immerse the trainee in a digital environment that is highly lifelike, with highly measurable interactions. Training progress is assessed via a web-based learning management system without using running equipment that is producing in a plant or facility. TPC has found that this method is extremely valuable where training time comes at a cost to the business through downtime or equipment tie-up. Crane and rigging training is one example where practice makes perfect but training time is highly expensive. Virtual reality and customized simulations cut training time and costs by making training more accessible while delivering a similar standard of quality experienced when training on actual equipment.

As technology progresses, digital delivery and assessment methods will further blend with in-person training applications. Instructors can effectively reach larger audiences with training capabilities once only possible inside a physical classroom. Simulation and virtual reality not only make training cheaper and measurable for current processes but also help workforces train for unplanned scenarios that cannot be replicated in reality. We expect whole workforces to be engaged with these training solutions effectively in the very near future, and TPC Training Systems is well on its way to delivering accessible, engaging and collaborative training via digital resources to clients.

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