E-Learning: The Way Forward for Engineering-Based Training


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This article outlines how eLearning is becoming the cost-effective way forward for the future of complex equipment maintenance and operations training.

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E-Learning: The Way Forward for Engineering-Based Training

  1. 1. e LEARNING 1
  2. 2. SUMMARY OF CONTENTS• Introduction – The Rapid Growth of eLearning• eLearning Supporting Complex Equipment Maintenance and Operations• eLearning for Product Training, Maintenance and Customer Support• Key Benefits of eLearning• What is Driving Broader Engineering eLearning Adoption?
  3. 3. eLearning: The Way Forward for Engineering-Based Training How eLearning is becoming the cost-effective way forward for the future of complex equipment maintenance and operations trainingIntroduction – The Rapid Growth of eLearningeLearning has been adopted at a rapidly increasing rate in recent years with the development of high-speedinternet access. According to the eLearning Guild, worldwide revenue from eLearning products and servicesexceeded $50 billion in 2010, and growth rates are projected at between 15-30% over the next four years.eLearning can be delivered at different levels and can include elements of animation, audio and videotechnology to enhance the effectiveness of the material. Training materials are usually delivered via aLearning Management System (LMS) that enables: • access for all employees to a central resource • employees to be notified of required training • managers/administrators to monitor successful completion of courseworkToday, eLearning is moving far beyond the Human Resources use of these materials for employee trainingand orientation courses. Now virtually all training topics can be provided through eLearning. Many of thetraditional classroom-style training companies have taken the lead in turning their existing content into anonline delivery format.eLearning has been used for many years in the defense and oil and gas industry sectors. Other commercialsectors with a similar usage of complex equipment have been slower to take advantage of this newtechnology. This article explores why the adoption of eLearning has historically been slower insome sectors, and the growing realization of the benefits to be gained from incorporatingeLearning into training programs for complex engineering-based equipment. 3
  4. 4. eLearning Supporting Complex Equipment Maintenance and Operations CDG recently conducted research studies in which it interviewed a number of Training and Engineering Managers in the Aerospace and Defense sectors. As a result of this research, it became clear that eLearning has had widely different rates of adoption in the context of Maintenance and Operations training related to complex assets such as aircraft, vehicles, and other equipment. In the Defense sector, Computer-Based Training (CBT) as part of “Blended Learning” (with both CBT and classroom or field instruction) has been a common feature of training programs since the early 1990s. In the last ten years, needs analyses have identified blended learning as the most cost-effective way of delivering training. As such, there is an increasing expectation from Defense organizations to have eLearning and CBT included as part of the training provision for any major equipment programs. In the Oil & Gas industry sector, eLearning has been used with proven success for many years. Safety- critical procedures and a large number of employees distributed across multiple (and often remote) locations provide perfect justifications for investing in the eLearning approach. In the Commercial Aviation industry, the same issues of safety-critical procedures and numerous employees in multiple locations certainly exist. However, some organizations in this sector have been slower to adopt the technology, driven in part by a tighter financial environment. eLearning for Product Training, Maintenance Training and Customer Support The adoption rate of eLearning materials used for product training and customer support functions appears to have been moving at a slower pace than some other areas. It is clear that budgetary constraints have been one element contributing to the slower rate of adoption in these areas, but CDG’s research of this issue has identified that it is more complex than economic factors alone. Following are some of the findings from CDG’s recent interviews with Product and Customer Support Managers at various Aerospace and Defense companies: • There has been a perception that the whole process of eLearning materials development is far too expensive to even contemplate. (Historically, this has probably been true, but many things have changed in recent years to drive down eLearning development costs). • Creating customized eLearning content has been seen as too time-consuming for engineers, who are primarily engaged in product design and development; training materials are often not viewed as top priority by the engineering staff.4
  5. 5. • Outsourcing the task to an external eLearning provider has sometimes become problematic. The initial engineering content has to be prepared to pass over to a service provider, which takes time. Also, a lack of proper engineering expertise at some eLearning providers requires ongoing support and input from the company’s in-house engineering team, which creates an atmosphere of stress and frustration. • Since many complex engineering programs involve tailoring the product to specific customer needs and specifications, the training has been seen as a “one-off” and therefore not ideally suited to eLearning. • Some Training Managers, having spent a lifetime doing traditional “chalk & talk” style training, see the new technology as more of a threat than an aid. • When it comes to aircraft “type” training the EASA and FAA have specific guidelines about the length of courses, which have to be instructor-led. • Most training companies do not have direct experience with complex equipment engineering, so they have focused instead on the “quick wins” to develop training materials that apply to larger numbers of companies. • Until recently, there has been a lack of demand from end user customers or operators for newer and more advanced forms of training. But now with a growing awareness of the benefits of eLearning, many customers are beginning to expect this, and demand that manufacturers and suppliers incorporate eLearning as part of their training provision in support of their products. • Competition is a major driving force for change; until recently, many manufacturing companies did not necessarily view their training or customer support materials as a key part of their competitive advantage. Today, customers are beginning to take more notice of the training and support materials as a part of the complete service offering, and consider this factor in their vendor and partner evaluations.Key Benefits of eLearningeLearning can provide a number of key benefits for any organization: • Access to training on-demand whenever/wherever needed • Higher productivity, reduced error rates, improved operating performance • Reduced learning time; students progress at their own pace • Reduced travel costs related to off-site training • Efficient tracking; student training records updated/stored automatically • More engaging and interactive for students than traditional classroom settings • Consistent, uniform training assured across all locations, all departments • Complete flexibility; no rigid class scheduling requirements • No limit on number of students with access to training modules 5
  6. 6. Training programs utilizing eLearning can still be delivered in a classroom environment, where it is instructor- led. It can also be personalized to each student. In one recent training exercise, fifteen staff members in three different locations were trained by an instructor in another country. The students were able to see the instructor, and not only was the instructor able to see the screen of each student, but them as well. This methodology saved the company a small fortune, and the training was still seen to be extremely effective by the participants. Other Benefits – From a Training Program Manager Point of View CDG recently conducted confidential surveys of Training and Product Support Managers at various manufacturer and supplier companies in the Aerospace and Defense community. Following are some of their first hand comments that provide some additional insights into the practical benefits provided by eLearning: “Practical eLearning content is very useful for reinforcement. With the best will in the world, it is impossible to cover everything in a classroom session and it is rare to be able to go into as much detail as you’d like. Time pressures also often prevent you from ensuring that absolutely everyone has completely grasped the key points. With eLearning, you know that students have the opportunity to reinforce what they’ve learned, go into more detail, and revise what they didn’t entirely grasp the first time around.” - Chief Training Manager, Actuation and Landing Gear Manufacturer6
  7. 7. “There’s no substitute for classroom training with a piece of the hardware available. Being able to pass anobject around and give students the opportunity to feel the weight makes a big difference to their learning.Of course, we don’t always have the equipment available, even at our own training facilities. When we’retravelling it is either impractical or customers are reluctant to pay the extra shipping costs. In those situations,being able to use 3D models as part of the training is the next best thing.” - Customer Support Manager, Braking System Manufacturer“A key driver for us is the ability to drive increased spares sales.” - Head of Customer Services, Crew Seat ManufacturerOne of the Customer Support Managers interviewed in the CDG research highlighted what he saw as apotential problem with eLearning. He made the point that it was not always “black & white” in deliveringtheir technical content, with different cultures requiring different approaches. He also cited the issue thateach market and even each customer brings different problems into the classroom. In response to thisissue, it is important to understand that any core eLearning content can easily be modified to incorporatethe latest changes or special requirements for a particular training session. Simple changes can often bemade in-house, without requiring the external eLearning provider’s assistance.What is Driving Broader Engineering eLearning Adoption?There are a number of factors that are driving more and more companies to incorporate eLearning as partof operations and maintenance training for complex equipment and assets: • Costs. Costs for eLearning materials are coming down for a whole range of reasons. The latest software is contributing to this; it is now possible to achieve stunning visual effects and virtual demonstrations in a fraction of the time it would have taken a few years ago. • The search for increased productivity. In an increasingly competitive world, customers are looking to drive their own training and operational costs down and are looking to suppliers for support. There are huge operational costs that could be avoided with better access to training information. Traditional methods of delivering training are often too costly and inefficient. eLearning can provide some tangible benefits, including reduced employee absences due to injury, avoidance of costly errors related to improper maintenance procedures, and a reduction in the number of parts being replaced unnecessarily due to lack of proper training. eLearning, CBT and 3D simulation can also be effective tools used in an instructor-led environment to increase the number of students that can be trained by one instructor. • Revenue increases. Some manufacturers have discovered that training materials and manuals that are designed to be more user-friendly for the operators can also be effective at increasing spare parts sales. Some manufacturers also elect to charge customers for training materials fees, which becomes an additional source of revenue for their product support programs. • Engineering resources. eLearning suppliers with engineers on staff can help relieve the added burden on in-house engineering teams when it comes to training materials development. With the right supplier, engineers do not need to be as heavily involved in the process of training materials development. 7
  8. 8. • Maximizing On-Site Training Time. While some traditional “face-to-face” training is still beneficial, blended learning allows the maximum to be gained from this, in the minimum time. eLearning can be used to prequalify students and enable study for courses in advance of on-site training. This helps ensure that students attending on-site courses are fully qualified and ready to be there, and travel expense is not wasted for unprepared students. • Competitive Advantage. As competition increases in a tight economic environment, a higher quality training program can be the differentiator that attracts a customer to your product or service instead of a competitor’s. “We currently react to requests for training from our customers. If we had eLearning available, it would enable us to be more proactive.” Chief Training Officer, Major Aircraft Component Supplier Summary There is no question that eLearning is in a state of rapid growth, and the demand for these services should continue to grow in the coming years. It has moved far beyond the traditional Human Resources training arena, and is now applied in virtually any environment requiring training programs. A growing number of complex equipment manufacturers and suppliers are discovering how effective eLearning programs can not only benefit their own employees for internal training, but also become a value- added service for their customers. In fact, operators of complex assets and equipment are now beginning to demand and expect more comprehensive training and support materials, and will often consider this as a significant factor in their buying decisions. Because the potential impact of eLearning materials can be significant, it is important to select an eLearning service provider who can act more as a development partner, rather than just a standard vendor/customer relationship. eLearning programs should also ideally be supported by a longer term strategy, rather than just a one-off training module approach. When properly developed and applied, eLearning can help companies lower costs, increase productivity, increase revenues, and create a stronger competitive advantage.8
  9. 9. About CDGEngineering Expertise – CDG specializes in supporting aerospace, defense, manufacturing and otherengineering-focused industries. Our global support and delivery teams include hundreds of engineersand technical authors who are highly experienced in developing engineering and technical data. CDGalso has pilots and maintenance technicians on staff who can apply their practical hands-on experiencein the development of highly effective training materials. Our teams can bring this deep knowledge andunderstanding of how complex equipment actually functions in a real world environment.Comprehensive “Full Circle” Solutions – CDG can also provide “full circle” engineering, training and productsupport solutions for complex equipment and assets. We can assist in developing the engineering data,authoring the related technical publications, and developing the eLearning modules. This enables us tocapitalize on the efficiency of reusing this same engineering and technical data to fulfill all of your contentdelivery requirements in engineering, product support, and training.Cost-Effective Global Support & Delivery – Our team of eLearning and CBT experts in the US, Europe andIndia enables CDG to create cost-effective global delivery solutions to meet your unique requirements.Stability, Quality, and Integrity – As a subsidiary of The Boeing Company, CDG can offer its customers a highdegree of confidence, backed by our reputation for reliability, high security and quality standards, ethicalbusiness practices and financial stability.For More InformationCDG’s team of eLearning specialists are ready to work with you to thoroughly review your training materialsrequirements and develop a proposed solution to address all of your training needs.For more information about Training Solutions or other CDG products and services, visit the CDG website atwww.cdgnow.com, or send e-mail to marketing@cdgnow.com. 9
  10. 10. www.cdgnow.com email: marketing@cdgnow.com The Americas Europe India Corporate Headquarters Gate House Continental DataGraphics Technical Services India Pvt Ltd 6141 Katella Avenue Fretherne Road a Boeing Company ELEARNWP-MKTG-021011-A Cypress, CA 90630-5202 Welwyn Garden City Building #99-B37 USA Hertfordshire AL8 6NS Block 9A, 3rd Floor, DLF IT Park SEZ UK 1/124 Shivaji Gardens, Mount Poonamalle Road Manapakkam, Chennai 600 089 INDIA Phone: (714) 503-4200 Phone: +44 (0) 1707 367700 Phone: +91 44 4592 000010