A few months ago, I shared some news of virtual classroom courses begun by the Emerson Educational Services team. This effort is being led here in Austin, Texas by Jim Siemers. I asked Jim for an update on how things are going with these virtual classes since the first one in early November 2009.
Jim noted that eight of these virtual, across-the-internet classes have been held to date. Five of the Ed Center instructors have delivered these courses. Jim described what sorts of courses were best suited for a virtual classroom approach:
Courses that we deliver virtually are software-oriented (hardware and troubleshooting are tough as you physically have to have the equipment in front of you). This method of learning is quickly catching on and we now have about two classes per month being scheduled (both open enrollment as well as dedicated for a given site).
How it works is that an education center instructor leads the virtual classroom during live sessions. Students can see and talk with the instructor through their PCs. From their office or home, students connect into education center systems running DeltaV, Syncade, and/or Mimic software. Instructors can take control of these remote sessions to help students during the learning process.
By being conducted live across the internet, the geographic spread of students can be much greater. Jim describes a Mimic simulation course conducted last week for 9 students across many countries in Europe. And Jeff Hackney, whom you may recall from earlier posts, noted that a Syncade course begins this week for students in South Korea.
No one expects these courses to be as good as in-person classroom learning, but Jim did share some student feedback with me. Most has been very positive and often exceeds expectations. I think many folks (mine included) perceptions have been built on “canned training” courses that one might do for defensive driving or mandatory HR training. A live instructor changes the equation since you have the opportunity to ask questions and clarify what doesn’t make sense.
Proof that this virtual classroom training is catching on is the growth in the number of courses being offered. There are now ten DeltaV and DeltaV SIS classes, five Syncade classes, and a Mimic class available.
As process manufacturers continue to try to control costs in these economic times and to restrict travel budgets, virtual classroom learning may be a trend that continues to grow.