By SWPA Executive Director Adam Stolberg
Due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, the last year has presented many industries with uncertainty and a need to adapt. As many of the traditional training events—from educational seminars to trade shows—in the pump industry faced those challenges, online options emerged as viable alternatives to face-to-face learning opportunities. Below, SWPA Executive Director Adam Stolberg discusses some of the ways his organization has addressed the ever-present need for continuous training in continuously changing times.
In light of the restrictions on in-person gatherings from the past year, how has online training stepped in to fill the gap?
First, let me say that in my opinion, face-to-face training will never be replaced. It has tremendous value and some of the demonstrations, hands-on interaction between participants and instructors, and the networking aspect add a great deal of value. However, the COVID pandemic has forced some changes and some may become a permanent addition to previous training.
At SWPA, we offer training that meets everyone’s busy schedule and needs, while still utilizing expert instructors and up-to-date content. We are offering “something for everyone,” including on demand training through our website—especially, via the virtual classroom training through our SWPA University, which is ten weeks of virtual classroom training every week for one hour over a ten-week period. This ten-week course is offered in the spring and fall. We are also offering an advanced “200” level full day virtual training in May.
How was the role of online training expanding even in pre-pandemic times?
Online training was an “up and comer” before the pandemic, but quarantine, travel bans, and so on have forced it to become mainstream, as industry professionals still needed a way to receive PDH, CEU, and, contact hour credits. Before COVID, online training was “in addition to” live training, not necessarily an “instead of” option. We believe live training will always be an integral part of what SWPA does, and the future will include online training as another option for industry professionals.
How have industry experts modified their instruction to better fit an online model?
At SWPA, we have tried to include “hands on” as part of our training. This is, of course, difficult if not impossible to do in a virtual setting. However, we try to encourage and foster good Q&A and interactivity with participants and instructors.
Good training in a virtual setting can’t just be the presenter reading from a slideshow presentation. Without being able to see the live audience reaction, it is difficult to gauge their interest or if they are falling asleep. Instructors have to be more upbeat, more direct with questions, and more engaged with problems to solve to keep the audience engaged as well. Demonstrations are still a key way to present materials as well.
What are some benefits we gain with an online learning environment? Where do you see online training headed in the future? Who has the most to gain?
Cost is a key one. Online training allows participants to learn from anywhere without travel costs, hotels and meals, and without missed opportunities from being away from the office or the clients.
As I said, online training will be here to stay. I believe it will serve as a compliment to live training, not a substitute for it. And we all will gain if our industry is better by being more easily and properly trained.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
The mission of the Submersible Wastewater Pump Association (SWPA) is to enhance the global wastewater environment by informing, educating, and providing leadership in the design, procurement, and operation of submersible wastewater pumping systems. For more information, call 847.681.1868, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.swpa.org.
MODERN PUMPING TODAY, April 2021
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