There is a lot of discussion these days about improving training and competency in the water industry but not a lot of information about what’s happening to improve training outcomes. Two years ago, Connexis, a New Zealand training organisation and water industry representatives came together to implement a revamp of national qualifications. The results of which are now bearing fruit.
Improving the performance of people involved in water and wastewater operations is something that we are really passionate about. So, when the Industry Training Organisation (Connexis) asked us to develop all new material for the NZQA Level 4 Apprenticeship qualifications, we were happy to help. And as our way of contributing to the industry we decided to carry out the work at cost.
The work involved; establishing an on-line learning management system (LMS), authoring all of the course content (excluding assignments and block-course) and producing associated training videos. In addition to this, we and our partners AFI developed an online SCADA training and assessment tool which is unique in the industry and a world first for New Zealand.
The Apprenticeship courses have been running for almost a year now, and we think it’s a good time to provide some background of how the new qualifications are structured as well as taking a look at how the first tranche of trainees are progressing.
The qualifications are delivered using a blended learning model made up of; on-line theory (e-learning), site-based assessment, and a 5-day practical block course.
Lutra was engaged to develop the e-learning content for 27 Unit Standards (a Unit Standard typically covers one topic e.g. media filtration). The e-learning content must undergo a rigorous quality control process by Connexis and this is complete for most of the Unit Standards.
Whenever we develop training material our main objective is to put things into context for the operators rather than asking them to understand what could be seen as abstract concepts. Thus, the focus is on practical, site-based interactive material with lots of visual elements in place of screeds of written material and bullet points. We also put an emphasis on diagnosing and correcting process faults which links through to the SCADA training and assessment tool.
Screenshot of Learning Management System (LMS)
The e-learning content can be viewed on a smart phone, tablet or PC.
Unit Standard selection on the app.
Unit Standard breakdown on the app.
Example of interactive element on the app.
The following graphics give a summary of the performance of the trainees registered by Connexis to date. The terms used are defined as follows: Participation - registered trainees who have started at least one Unit Standard. Engagement - registered trainees who have completed at least one Unit Standard. Completion rate - the average Unit Standard completion rate. Allstars - the percentage of registered trainees who have successfully completed all Unit Standards assigned to them.
The trainees have provided a lot of valuable feedback on the training material itself and on this very new style of learning. The feedback we’ve received has been all positive but it has all been constructive. By and large trainees are enjoying the new learning model and we received one bit of feedback we’d like to share which has made it all worthwhile for us: “The knowledge I have gained from what I am learning which is applicable to my job has been amazing. I have learnt so much thus far and look forward to learning more. I can’t single out any one part of the course because I feel all of the content is applicable to me. I feel empowered, in a knowledgeable way where I feel I can contribute positively to the organisation I work for.”