One of the most surefire ways of running a power or industrial plant safely, effectively, and efficiently is to maintain a well-trained staff of personnel. A well-designed, comprehensive training program prevents costly unplanned outages, equipment breakdown, and worker injuries, all of which is well worth the investment of time and money. But just because training is essential, it doesn’t come without its challenges; creating and maintaining training resources, teaching courses, and finding the time in employees’ schedules to dedicate to training can all be time-intensive and expensive. An effective training program is an investment of both time and money for any facility, and it is important to invest those resources wisely.
Managers across all industries use a number of approaches to meet these training demands. Traditionally, these have included mainly printed training materials and classroom instruction.
Printed Training Materials
Printed training materials, such as manuals for each system, are useful because they allow trainees to study independently, at their own pace, whenever and wherever is most convenient. They also can be reproduced and distributed to many trainees, for a relatively low cost. However, as many of us experienced in our school days, learning from a book is not always very engaging and it can be difficult to retain information this way. Additionally, without an instructor present, it is easy to speed through the material and assume “I’ve got it,” without taking the time to see if one has understood the most critical points. There is also the additional challenge of maintaining a well-organized, up-to-date library of these materials, so trainees can find the appropriate resources when needed.
Classroom instruction is considerably more engaging and interactive than having trainees read printed materials. An instructor can draw attention to the most important information and can ask questions to ensure trainees understand what is being taught. Additionally, classroom instruction often utilizes verbal instruction with visual aids, allowing for different types of learners to easily access the information. However, classroom instruction can be costly and difficult to schedule because it requires all participants to be present at one time. If an employee is unavailable, due to illness or other job demands, there is no simple way to provide that employee with the training he missed. Classroom instruction is also only as good as the quality of the instructor, leading to a wide range of outcomes for trainees at different facilities, and even different groups. The classroom training approach is also less efficient for new hires because they are generally not given comprehensive training when they are first hired; they must wait until there is a large enough group to justify scheduling a classroom training, leaving that employee without adequate knowledge sometimes for months at a time.
However, there is a third option that combines the best parts of both these two training approaches, while minimizing their drawbacks.
Computer-based training programs, or CBTs, are essentially pre-recorded, instructor-led training sessions that employees can access at any time through their facility’s intranet or Learning Management System (LMS). These trainings can be accessed whenever it is most convenient for the trainee, in as short or as long segments of time as is effective. However, what makes CBTs vastly better than the training videos of the past is the learning checks and interactive activities that can be interspersed with the instructional segments. Similar to classroom instruction, CBTs can use mini-quizzes and other knowledge checks to draw learners’ attention to the most important information, and to ensure they are retaining that information. This can be even more effective than classroom training because EVERY learner is required to show their learning, not just those brave enough to raise their hands. Additionally, because training is done independently, trainees can progress through the CBT at their own pace, allowing them to go back and review sections as needed. In fact, the benefits of CBTs are so great that schools across the country (from kindergarten through college) are using them to supplement our children’s traditional school instruction.
Computer-based trainings come in many formats and can be used to teach just about anything. When considering implementing a CBT program for your facility, there are a variety of options for management to consider. Some opt for off-the-shelf courses covering fundamentals, while others choose partially- or fully-customized courses to meet the specific needs of their facility. Some want mini-courses that can be taken in short time segments, while others choose to stick with the more traditional hour-long training sessions. Even the method and frequency of knowledge checks can be modified to best suit your needs.
Fossil Consulting Services has been building computer-based trainings for clients for nearly a decade. Click HERE to try a demo CBT course built by FCS, which includes some common CBT features.
Benefits of Computer-Based Training
CBTs are a flexible and cost-effective way to deliver essential training to your employees. If Computer-Based Training sounds right for your facility, contact us today to learn more.