By Steve Klein
From the old “Zoom down the road to attend a Plant School” to the new “Zoom Meeting Schools”, a utilization of New Technology for an Old Problem.
Welcome back to late summer 2020 as Covid hindered travel and groups getting together. Clarence Richard is wondering how to best offer his Asphalt Plant Operation Training Schools. He started out 20 years ago by offering classes in his local area with himself and a few guest instructors. This quickly grew into a traveling road show of classes scattered around the country. Each class in a Motel Conference room for a week with participants from a regional area. The cost of not only the classes but lodging and travel were added to the classes. This lasted a number of years before manpower and travel needs had Clarence evolve the training sessions into an “Online” School. Offering individual lessons via an Adobe Online-based school, with separate modules for instruction in different areas, review and testing sections, making sure that the material offered was understood. This style of classes did not offer the interaction where individuals could ask the instructor or classmates questions.
This said, Clarence wanted to get back to more of the instructor-led Asphalt Plant Operation Schools he had started with. How could he have a personalized plant service school with the country shut down and travel severely limited? He wanted to offer training with the interaction of a Classroom, where participants can ask questions in real time of not only the presenters, but also of other participants from other plants and operations. Bouncing the idea around he came up with a Zoom Based School. He started working with David Wilken, of his Fargo Office, to start moving some of the training sections to be used by presenters with Zoom. They implemented the use of the breakout rooms and polling for testing, as well as YouTube.
Clarence also re-connected Steve Klein (me), who had helped with the original Classroom Schools. During the Fall they went over the material and decided how best to offer the schools. 5-day long areas with a mix and match approach. They include:
- Safety (LOTO, Interlocks, Hot Asphalt, Electrical, Confined Space, and First Aid)
- Mix Quality (Segregation, Dust Control, Scale and Meter Troubleshooting, Stockpile Management)
- Production (Burners, Hot Oil Systems, Fuel Management, Trunnions, Baghouse Operation, Load Cells, Drum Flighting, Batch and Drum Operations both Parallel and Counter Flow)
- El/Mechanical Day 1 (Safe Meter Usage, Basic Circuits, Basic Troubleshooting)
- El/Mechanical Day 2. (VFD, Advanced Circuits, Advance Troubleshooting)
Companies could take 1, 2, 3, or 5 days of classes. By offering different combinations over multiple weeks, they could tailor the schools to their needs. Everyone at the same time or a few this week and a few next. Some would take all classes and a few only 1 or 2 classes. This was a true mix or match system. Clarence and (I) Steve were the main instructors of the schools with David coordinating the polling. Clarence and Steve were from the OEM and Service Areas, along with consulting of Asphalt Production and Permitting.
With this in place, Clarence had David and Carrie Elizondo start promoting the classes. Carrie was the main point of contact to handle the registration and emails for the classes.
- During the classes, the instruction utilized some of the WEB based training aids along with fresh material and examples. During the presentations not only were the students encouraged to ask questions for clarification but also to share stories and experiences that they had encountered. We even took one day where in place of each group breaking for lunch and returning, we had a Zoom style lunch break with ongoing conversations. With this back-and-forth sharing, the school was similar to the older training with the following advantages:
- Transportation only to their local workplace or internet access point with little to no travel.
- Share experiences with other class members
- Questions answered in real time
- Handouts and Worksheets emailed to participants
- Flexible scheduling with classes in a row or scattered over a few weeks.
- Ability to pick up a missed class.
- If a participant missed a portion of a class, they were recorded on the cloud and the missing section could be watched.
- Full days and if something runs long it is extended out for full answers.
- Classes bring value to all levels of training and experience
Participants all agreed that they would recommend our zoom training and 95% said that it would improve their job performance with a payback of 6 months or less.
So what is on the drawing board for 2022? More of the same zoom training and the development of more of the popular, self-taught, at your own pace, on your own schedule web-based training. We hope to meet you in the great beyond.
Contact: Carrie Elizondo