Last month in this column (“Virtual This & Digital That…”), I talked about TCIA’s virtual/digital events. Online learning is an equally critical area within TCIA’s virtual/digital strategy. As you read this, TCIA has already moved all its
certificate-course testing online, and this summer and fall it has an ambitious plan to bring at least five training programs onto a robust online-learning-system platform. To get more insight on where the Association is headed, TCI talked to Bryan Dalton, TCIA’s director of training and credentialing.
“Before COVID-19, we were already committed to creating digital content enriched with video. COVID helped create an appetite for that as an option,” Dalton explains. “Our commitment to develop content and instructors into a blended, online-learning environment has been clearly planned out, and we are looking to respond to the momentum that COVID has necessitated to fully execute this plan.
“One of the things we realized was that there has been some opportunity created – kind of a push from COVID-19 into the virtual space where, as you know, online learning has been around for quite a while.
“Our online-learning platform provides us great flexibility to have more of an interactive learning experience, and I was excited to help bring that to TCIA. But when I first started, I felt a lot of cultural pushback – people in our industry were skeptical. This virtual space was already comfortable for some and not comfortable at all for others. But it became a necessity to go there just to stay connected with people in your life.
“This was a direction we wanted to go anyway. We saw immediate success when people engaged in CTSP online. I work in this environment exclusively and had great confidence it would be successful, but then our participants were seeing success for themselves, and they were really appreciating the flexibility and the convenience.
“We divided our strategies between content that is static (i.e., manuals) and content delivered by an instructor in an interactive environment. From an educator’s perspective, having a blend of both is the gold standard. You have a mixture of passive-learning experience and active-learning experience, and it’s with that combination that you see people really learn and retain as well as apply what they learn.
“TCIA’s legacy was manuals: ‘Read this, take this quiz, practice some of these skills and get somebody to sign off on your competency.’ With our online-learning platform, we can create experiences. Typically, when somebody reads, they retain about 10%. We are creating these experiences with other elements built in that will increase that retention rate. So there are components for students to read, but there will also be video, and within the video there will be demonstration. At some point, we will expand that experience to include discussion groups.
“The master plan is to provide the environment that has the core content built in, but also to teach instructors how to leverage and enhance that content with discussion in virtual classrooms. When we train the trainer, as we plan to do, we can teach these subject-matter experts to leverage the platform as a tool in order to really fully engage their audience.”
Is there a virtual-reality chain-saw training program yet? Can it be far off?
Peter Gerstenberger, publisher