NexTech Academy is an intentionally flexible vocational training program, so it’s important for us to understand how people are using it and share that information with others. As students progress from one level to the next, they are invited to complete a survey via Survey Monkey. Because students are matriculating at different times, we waited until we had 30 responses to share our findings. Responders included students in the plumbing technician training program and the HVAC technician training program.

Below, we’ve shared the survey questions, the data gained and our reflections on what we’ve learned. We hope you find this helpful if you’re considering NexTech and want to learn more about its effectiveness, or if you’re a current participant and are curious on what others think.

When do students typically do NexTech Academy work?

  • 65.69 % of respondents work through NexTech on their own time
  • 18.38% of respondents work through NexTech on company time
  • 15.93% of respondents work through NexTech on company time and their own time

Our thoughts: We are a little surprised that so many people are working on NexTech on their own time. We want to watch this and we may want to follow up with another question to learn how people are balancing the skill assessments with independent work. We also wonder if students feel supported enough if they are working on this outside the business?

How do students feel about the content structure?

  • 82.84% of respondents found the content easy to understand
  • 22.25% of respondents think the content is organized in a logical order
  • 63.23% of respondents feel that the knowledge gained allows them to perform their work successfully
  • 7.105 % of respondents struggled to get through the content

Our thoughts: We’re happy that people find the content easy to understand, but we want to learn more about what people expect in terms of how the content is organized. We’d also like to gain more insight from the folks that are struggling to get through the content. At this moment in NexTech development, we are prototyping a couple different content layouts and sharing them with current students. Expect to see changes over time to how content is arranged.

How often do students meet with their supervisor / local training leader?

  • 10% meet daily
  • 68.48% meet weekly
  • 16.97% meet bi-monthly
  • 11.21% meet monthly

Our thoughts: We’re happy to see that many students are connecting with their supervisor weekly (which is what we recommend). We’d like to make this more apparent to supervisors / local training leaders and continue to push the importance of regular check ins. Local training leaders that are working with Nexstar’s training accountability coaches have shared that progress updates and setting time for students to share their experiences has a direct relationship to student success.

Do students feel more confident as technicians?

The respondents scored this 4.59/5.

Our thoughts: Awesome! That mean’s we’re off to a great start. The most important goal of NexTech Academy is to create confident and competent technicians. We know that we are a pioneer of online technical training and we will always want to move the needle here. That aside, it’s wonderful to know that students are finding value in the program and it’s inspiring them to continue to grow in the trades.

We also asked respondents to share ideas on how Nextech Academy can be improved

The most common responses were:

  • Expand on skill assessment activities.
  • Continue to add more videos. Video content is preferred to reading.
  • Less time spent on theory, get to the technical aspects sooner.

We are taking these under consideration as we begin our work on NexTech Academy curriculum improvements. Our current plans include:

  • Chunking lessons into smaller parts and indicating how long it will take to complete each lesson.
  • Adding more videos that expand real-life situations faced on the job.
  • Rearranging the reading component of the curriculum and condensing some of the content. Reading is an important part of learning, so it will always be part of the program. We can make the reading part more engaging than it is right now.
  • Providing Nexstar Service System customer service practice scenarios, based on the technical content they are learning.

Stay tuned…

We plan on sharing survey responses often, so that you have a better understanding of how people are using NexTech Academy, so you can gather ideas on how to implement your own online technical training program and how we’re using this data to make usability and content improvements.