Banner
Training & Education

To e-learn or not to e-learn

By Udo O.J. Huff, M.ED.

Even the trades can benefit by incorporating e-learning components in educational programs

November 2012 - Online learning has recently become all the rage, as often happens when new technologies begin to integrate into mainstream living. Although people generally acknowledge e-learning is not the perfect solution for all fields of education, the extent of its efficacy in the trades has yet to be determined.

There are key factors arguing for and against e-learning in general. Let’s do a little brainstorming to identify those factors as they currently exist.

Pros and cons

Students who participate in e-learning appreciate the convenience of being able to study and review coursework on a flexible schedule. However, some complain that classes take too long and that e-learning tools are hard to use.

Firms who consider e-learning as a way to educate their workforce have to face the issue of initial cost, including computing infrastructure expenses and the cost of course development. Information technology professionals, who often play the role of bean counters when it comes to e-learning initiatives, raise the issues of bandwidth, applet requirements, security, infrastructure management and technical support. But with many training budgets far smaller than they were a few years ago, it’s the low cost of delivery that is the most common argument in support of e-learning. To some extent, the actual cost depends upon the quality of the staged e-learning session, the contents and the equipment used. But when a learning module can be used repeatedly, the cost per learner becomes very attractive.

The use of e-learning can thus reduce overall training cost, and if the modules are well done and interesting, e-learning can expand the number of people who are trained. To some extent, it acts as a performance support.

There is value in being able to use the same training later on,  even though it is “canned,” meaning it can be stored and reused any time with or without an instructor. It also allows self-paced learning­­—one of the more popular buzzwords in training and development.

ffj-1112-training-graph

There is the rapid development and deployment of modern technology to consider, and that progress will not stop. E-learning that encourages interactivity enhances the learning experience, and technological advances are making this easier to include. Additionally, e-learning modules can be easily edited when small changes are needed.

Comparing the outcome

What is so different between e-learning and traditional, instructor-based learning? The environment is different, for one thing. As an example, consider an apprentice training in the metal trades. This is not the traditional on-the-job training, which might consist of 8,000 hours and include 560 hours of related academic instruction. The apprenticeship training program is performance-based, innovative and concentrated into 4,320 hours of hands-on training defined by a metal trade with 1,440 hours of related academic instruction, including the latest high-level technologies.

This combination of structured academic training and instructor-guided learning is difficult to squeeze into an e-learning environment. For the majority of companies in forming and fabrication, the instructor is much needed. Consider, however, a hybrid learning package with carefully selected elements of various subjects presented through e-learning components, coupled with instructor-guided learning, for the necessary hands-on portions of the program.

Some of the more academic subjects, such as material science, could be offered with a larger portion of the class in an e-learning format. Employing this type of hybrid approach could take advantage of both e-learning for presentations and structured hands-on training for more practically applied technologies that need expert instructor support.

Although best practices are still being established in the field of e-learning, and its suitability to various specialties and trades is still being determined, this method of educating workers is already a valuable tool. Going forward, it will likely become more valuable. FFJ

Udo O.J. Huff is an independent consultant with project experience in machine building, welding engineering, training and development. He holds Master of Education and Bachelor of Science in Technology degrees from Bowling Green State University. Questions or comments? E-mail uhuff@sbcglobal.net.

 

FFJWEB homepage-AMADA2-1

LATEST ISSUE  
MFD Cover0822

lineclearAUGUST 2022

METAL FABRICATORS DIRECTORY

The 2022-2023 Guide to Metal Fabricators in the U.S 

stamtec 931816 stamtec 2020q3 brand 300x250v1

Udo O.J. Huff, M.ED.

Instagram - @FFJournal

Banner

Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

IRONWORKERS

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Trilogy Machinery Inc. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters

LASER TECHNOLOGY

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC. Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

SOFTWARE

BENDING/FOLDING

Mazak Optonics Corp.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. MC Machinery Systems Inc. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC Murata Machinery, USA, Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SecturaSOFT

BEVELING

TRUMPF Inc. Davi Inc. SigmaTEK Systems LLC
Steelmax Tools LLC

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Trilogy Machinery Inc. Striker Systems

COIL PROCESSING

MTS Sensors

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

Bradbury Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Burghardt + Schmidt Group EMH Crane Rolleri USA Nidec Press & Automation
Butech Bliss Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc.

PRESS BRAKES

STEEL

Red Bud Industries UFP Industrial AMADA AMERICA, INC. Alliance Steel
Tishken

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

Automec Inc.

TUBE & PIPE

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

Advanced Gauging Technologies MC Machinery Systems Inc. BLM Group
Mayfran International

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

SafanDarley HGG Profiling Equipment Inc.

DEBURRING/FINISHING

Cincinnati Inc.

PUNCHING

Prudential Stainless & Alloys
ATI Industrial Automation LVD Strippit Hougen Manufacturing

WATERJET

Lissmac Corp. Scotchman Industries Inc.

SAWING

Barton International
Osborn Trilogy Machinery Inc. Behringer Saws Inc. Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
SuperMax Tools

METAL FORMING

Cosen Saws Omax Corp.
Timesavers FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. DoALL Sawing

WELDING

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

MetalForming Inc. HE&M Saw American Weldquip
Beckwood Press Co.

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

Savage Saws Strong Hand Tools
Triform Titan Tool Supply Inc.

 

T. J. Snow Company

TPMG2022 Brands


BPA_WW_MASTER.jpg