When NexTech Academy was being planned, many people scoffed at the idea of an online vocational training program. However, the more the concept grew, the more opinions changed. After all, online training is just knowledge transferred through the internet. The internet is the tool that delivers the content and there are some big advantages compared to traditional technical schools. Let’s take a closer look at five benefits that you may not have considered:
1. Balanced Learning
Online learning enables people to approach content differently. They can read, watch videos, complete quizzes, learn through gamification and follow instructions to complete hands-on skill assessments. A balanced learning approach can also help people retain information. Displaying information in different ways, allows people to get a deeper perspective and leads to better understanding.
The ability to learn anytime and anywhere with an internet connection is a game changer for home service apprentices. Some Nexstar members have students complete training within the business, while others have students work from home. Nexstar member Tasha Coleson, from BelRed Energy Solutions in Mukilteo, Wash. purchased Chromebooks for her students so that they would have easy access to NexTech’s HVAC program. “The students have opportunities throughout the day or week to log in and work, all they need is a Wi-Fi signal,” she said.
People digest learning content at different rates. Online learning is self-paced, so students can spend more time where it’s needed. In a traditional environment, a teacher may move too fast for some students and too slow for others in the classroom. If learners get to a certain point in the online curriculum and they don’t fully understand the material, they can go back and review. Or, if you have apprentices that join your team with some skills already, they may move through their skill assessments and quizzes more quickly.
NexTech Academy was designed with flexibility in mind because we understood that the Nexstar Network membership would use the program differently, to best meet their needs. Here’s some things we took into consideration:
- Subscription pricing: Many Nexstar members use NexTech as an onboarding tool. Sometimes new hires don’t work out and with subscription pricing, business owners only pay for what the student used. They aren’t making a huge upfront investment to see it not pan out.
- Using a learning management system (LMS): An LMS houses the curriculum and gives training leaders the ability to track student progress. It also allows content to be gated, meaning that students must demonstrate they’ve learned something (by completing exercises and quizzes) before they can move on.
- Allowing HVAC businesses to choose a heating or a cooling start to their program. This approach lets businesses prepare their technicians for future calls, taking into consideration what season it may be when they’ve graduated.
In a traditional learning environment, they may cover lots of topics, but not dive deeper into topics that you feel technicians need to know to succeed in the residential home services industry. This was the case for Charlie Fisher and Matt Marsiglio of Flame Furnace in Warren, Mich. They have a technical school nearby but found that their new hires weren’t quite ready for the truck.
“They don’t know what they don’t know. We can build on whatever they’ve learned in the local tech school and really get them familiar with a residential call,” said Charlie Fisher, general manager at Flame Furnace. “We’re using NexTech because we can identify skills and experience they are lacking and then get them through what they need to know in about 17 weeks.”
So, what do you think?
Are you ready for online technical training?