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Technical Certification Training

You’re the certification compliance officer for Acme Control Company. Your company employs 1,000 engineers who work at power plants all over the world.

Your engineers are certified by an outside agency to work on power plants. They can perform their work only if they continue to be recertified by that agency each year. There is a yearly test each engineer must pass.

It takes several months of training to certify a new engineer, but only a week of training to maintain an engineer ’s certification. You are interested in making sure that none of your already certified engineers fail the test.

In summary, the characteristics of the case study are that:

  • You have engineers in many geographical areas.
  • They all need to maintain their certification in order to keep doing their jobs.
  • Constant training is accepted by the engineers to pre- pare to pass each year’s certification exam.
  • The engineers are motivated to keep up with their training.

What’s at Stake?

You’ve had several engineers lose their certifications in past years, and you know from experience that it is very expensive in both time and money to replace them. You can lose contracts, and thus revenue, if a key engineer loses his certification.

Student Motivation

Your engineers are very motivated to keep their certification since they know their jobs depend on it.

Note: Stop a moment and think of your own e-learning solution before reading on.

Solution Factors

The solution approach here probably centers on a learning management system (LMS) that will manage the overall training program in an auto- mated way. (Describes more about such learning management systems.)

First, you developed a series of training courses that the engineers can take on demand over the Internet at their convenience. These courses will probably give the engineers “bite- size” chunks of training so they can fit them in among their other duties.

  • Much of the training can be designed as self-study chunks of training, so that the engineer can do it at a time that’s convenient for her work schedule.
  • But other parts can be a virtual classroom experience with an instructor and a couple of dozen students gathered together at the same time in a virtual place on the Internet. The main reason you might only do a few of these virtual classroom sessions is the scheduling problem of getting everyone together at the same exact time.

A learning management system (LMS) will greatly improve a company’s ability to track students on their path to competency testing (and certification).

The learning management system will then present the “roadmap” of courses that each engineer needs to complete. The LMS will track which courses the engineer has taken and which are still to be taken to keep up with the certification training. In fact, the LMS can automatically schedule students for classes and can even automatically prompt the student with an e-mail when she’s falling behind.

The learning management system will also deliver quizzes and practice certification tests that prove that the engineer has absorbed the training. And, perhaps most importantly, the LMS will provide reports to you (the certification compliance officer) and to other authorized management about which engineers are on track for recertification.

As alternatives to that solution,

  • Your e-learning courses might include courses with a remote instructor as well as self-directed training. The instructor, even at a distance over the Internet, will help motivate the students and help them learn more effectively.
  • In addition to the training courses themselves, you might want a Web site that acts as an “online library” of reference materials for certification. This online library could be used during the courses, but it could also be referred to during the engineer’s actual work.

A critical element of making this successful is making it easy to track which engineers are on track and which are falling behind. For example, sending computer-based training to each engineer on a CD-ROM wouldn’t work if you couldn’t tell which engineers were keeping up with their training and which were falling behind.