Education of the future: training tomorrow’s technicians
Education isn’t limited to the classroom: with online platforms and even virtual reality, it’s possible to learn whenever and wherever you want. Especially in times when physical distancing is a necessity, online or blended education are great alternatives for many types of classroom training.
At Kiwa we were already offering more and more online training courses and webinars. However, the Corona outbreak has increased the range of online courses. It has also accelerated our Kiwa colleagues' online training skills. Kiwa’s Janet ter Braak, Mari Kuusjärvi and Teija Paananen tell more about the developments in online training at Kiwa and the influence of the Corona pandemic on this.
The traditional idea of training is a familiar one – a classroom, a teacher, a presentation. But for Janet ter Braak, Manager of Kiwa Training, the view is much broader – it’s about blended education. “We have teachers and technical classrooms, but we also have our own learning management system (LMS),” she says.
Kiwa Training provides training in the Netherlands within Kiwa as well as to external parties. They run courses in four main areas: technical, quality, healthcare and sustainable energy. Technical is the most prominent area, with customers mainly coming from network operators for gas, electric, water and currently also in the field of hydrogen.
“Classroom training will always be needed: you can’t learn certain installation or distribution skills online – learners need a screwdriver in their hands, they need to do things together,” says Janet. “But we have transitioned to a more blended approach to learning, with online solutions that complement traditional approaches.”
Kiwa was already transforming from a classical training company to a more customer-driven blended knowledge provider, but the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this even more. Janet tells: “I notice a different mindset of people about online learning, both our customers and our Kiwa colleagues are much more open to it.”
Janet gives two examples of successful online courses that have recently been rolled out: “Kiwa Netherlands has developed an online quality course with knowledge clips about subjects as risk management, PDCA cycle, process management etc. During this online classroom course, the trainer combines showing of the knowledge clips with an interactive program with discussions and assignments. In two lessons of three hours each participant has been given a full introduction of the grounds of quality management. Of course, they can always look back at the knowledge clips afterwards, on demand!”
“We used the same structure for self-study for VCA courses (Basic Health instruction in the Netherlands). Participants receive a lesson book and during the sessions the trainer shows knowledge clips and participants can ask questions in a MS Teams environment. The official exam can take place after the course. The first reactions of this type of training are very positive. We will also reuse this option for candidates who failed the exam and offer the whole package as a “on demand” option for the retest.”
As technology develops, so will training. Janet keeps a finger on the technology pulse, but the transformation of the way we practice training also depends on customers’ needs. “We receive positive feedback on our online courses, and that motivates us to offer the best solutions now and in the future. Technology continuously changes, and we need to keep up with developments on all fronts and be creative to stand out in the crowd. With our own studio for example we are flexible in doing all kinds of online stuff and make cool video’s. We also use the studio for other companies, you see more and more movement to “on demand” features. The sky is the limit and we are very excited to explore new possibilities within this new environment!”
Opening doors for remote training
At Kiwa Finland, developments in online training were already well underway before the Corona outbreak. The current circumstances also have paved the way for distance learning even more. Training Manager Mari Kuusjärvi tells: “We offer both classroom and online training. The first steps in distance learning were taken last autumn when we instructed a pilot group of trainers about organizing webinars and the application we are using. At the beginning of the year, a three-part webinar series ISO 45001: 2018 was implemented. Webinars are short, live events of up to a couple of hours implemented remotely. Distance learning, on the other hand, takes more time.”
“The exceptional circumstances during mid-March ensured that on-site classroom training was stopped, which paved the way for the implementation of remote trainings. Already in the same week customers were able to participate in more online trainings and almost all the spring trainings are now carried out remotely. The change from on-site to online education was communicated to those who enrolled in our spring trainings and only a few students wanted to transfer to the autumn classroom trainings.”
Mari continues: “Several company-specific trainings have also already been carried out online, and online training is now often requested in calls for tenders. It has received positive feedback because of less travel time and less expenses and the training method is more environmentally friendly. We expect customer's demand for online training will increase. This also requires the development of contents of training to meet these needs.”
Gaining experience in remote teaching
Kiwa Finland’s Teija Paananen is Product Group Manager and Lead Auditor in the field of Food safety. She tells what her experience with online training has brought her over the past few months: “Regarding our Food safety trainings, at first we decided that without proper technology, we would not start online training. The high quality of our on-site training is what we want to stand out from the competition. But COVID-19 forced us to speed up our online classroom skills.”
“We started with a training about how to get IFS certification, one of our most popular trainings. We used a separate video camera and live streamed the training. It was very successful; our customers gave really good feedback and for us it was a great experience. There is a great demand for remote courses, so we built a series of seven webinars for the fall. It provides assistance in interpreting standards and helps to consider different options for solving typical problems on a practical level.”