When we set out on the adventure of building the EnergyLogic Academy, little did we know what we were getting into! The objective was to create “online” (a reviled adjective in our office for what we’re doing) pathways for all of our classroom trainings. This eLearning effort in combination with our existing field and live trainings comprise the EnergyLogic Academy.
We had several objectives for this initiative. The first was to improve the quality of our product. The team was optimistic about the prospects for addressing a number of challenges that face trainers in our industry (and other industries). There is a ton of literature and debate on learning styles and teaching methods to address different learners. Regardless of the debate, we knew intuitively that not everyone learns best the same way. We also know that the Bataan Death March of PowerPoint presentations are a poor delivery method no matter how enthused the presenter or students.
eLearning encompasses the breadth of techniques and includes the spoken word, visual delivery, continuous feedback and social interaction as key components. The amount of time and effort that it takes to craft thoughtful, complete trainings on this type of platform is truly daunting. We’re really glad we stuck it out, but whew! The initial results have been better than even the most optimistic of us had hoped for. For example, this comment is from Brenda Hungerford, a student who had taken HERS Rater training in the past and needed a refresher:
“I actually think this course is better for long term retention of the material than a one week classroom session. I believe it will make better Raters. Having said that, I would also like to pass along that this is an excellent course. I have been submerged somewhat in building science for a few years now and I can tell you this course has taught me a lot of new things and reinforced things that I have learned in the past. I also believe the social interaction is what puts this course over the top from a learning standpoint. Please pass along my thoughts to everyone on the EL team. Good Job!!”
The process right now is to have students who’ve completed the eLearning portion, go ahead and sit for the national test. This means they’ve never been to the field. Staggeringly, we now have a 100% pass rate on the test (full disclosure, this is a small sample thus far)! This was not necessarily our objective, let me explain why.
Our Prime Objective is to produce graduates who can succeed in the industry. Whether on their own or as a staff member in an organization; their overall competence is the measure of our success. Over the past several years, we had reduced the amount of material that we delivered in class in order to align it more closely with the test. This grated on us as we considered the material important to the overall knowledge base for a competent HERS rater or BPI Building Analyst, but we felt compelled to do so as we had to get our students over the hurdle of the test before they could move on. The amount of time we had in class was limited. Something had to give. We’ve now been able to add that material and even more back in. It’s not there to pass the test, but it’s important. What we used to deliver in 20 hours now takes students 40-60 hours to complete. Provided this platform students dig deeper and become more engrossed in their learning experience.
Perhaps the most gratifying thing to see has been the student response to this new approach to our training. We’re seeing a level of sharing that exceeds what happens in “live” training. The sharing is actually at a higher technical level and has the added benefit of creating a durable, “living” foundation for our students to build on as they go forward in their careers. I couldn’t be prouder of the work that my staff has done on this. It’s reflected in the pride I have in the experience that our students are having as they move forward with us in this industry.
And we are far from done. We are committed to continued improvement. We are very proud of where we are and incredibly confident about the path we are headed down.
-The EnergyLogic Energy Professional Services Team