Companies and their trainees in professions with technical competence also suffer from Corona. TÜV Rheinland Academy, as a leading provider of technical competence development, has therefore expanded its worldwide TVET services. Welders and electrical engineers are now also attending Virtual Classrooms in their vocational training to learn their trades. The solution: simulations shorten practical exercises on industrial equipment used in small groups and at a distance since the pandemic.

For trainees and students of an oil company on the Arabian Peninsula, the lockdown was initially shocking. Their training was threatened to be suspended indefinitely. But they were lucky. Within a few days, their training center set up Virtual Classrooms for the vocational training. The training center operator, TÜV Rheinland Academy, implements technical training for industrial groups worldwide as part of its TVET programs. TVET stands for Technical and Vocational Education and Training and is based on the dual training model that is very successful in Germany. Its clients are companies, educational institutions, and governments from all over the world that invest in their workforce’s technical competence development. TÜV Rheinland Academy advises its customers, develops educational concepts and training plans, and operates worldwide.

150 trainers and 1,000 apprentices with new training plans in the Virtual Classroom

The effort was not without its price, with Corona, the TVET team had to rethink everything once again. In Saudi Arabia, the approximately 150 trainers converted the current training plans for oil and gas technicians, which were currently running for prospective welders, electricians, process control, and operations specialists. Instead of regularly alternating between the training workshop and the classroom, they shifted a large part of the curriculum to digital platforms. They brought forward the academic units and implemented Virtual Classrooms in vocational training.

Virtual Classrooms in vocational training and in general take place on an Internet platform where trainers and students meet at the same time and design the lessons together. The advantage is that physical presence is no longer required. At the same time, however, trainers and students experience each other directly via their mobile devices and can interact. To achieve this, the trainers had to adapt their didactics and methods to the Virtual Classroom platforms. The practical parts of the training were initially prepared intensively with instructional films and simulations. Of course, a welder has to practice handling the different welding devices until he or she can make a good weld. With simulation tools, some practical skills can already be developed, even if the trainees cannot work on a real device in the training workshop. Welding simulators already impart a technical feel for the operation of the equipment and material properties. Once the loosening up had begun, the participants were thus well prepared for their first use of the machine – naturally with the necessary distance and in small groups. In the meantime, the practical modules are being made up for. Our experience with Corona also shows that many things can be done that previously seemed impossible. The trainers on site have worked with significant commitment. No participant fell by the wayside – on the contrary. Some of the trainers even reported that they sometimes also managed to improve their performance control. Because every day, they assign tasks that the students have to implement and submit. As a result, performance deficits and comprehension problems were noticed earlier by some of them, who could otherwise duck away more easily in real classroom situations.

Conclusion: Virtual Classrooms make sense in technical competence development

Even if the practical training of the TVET programs remains a central component, it is conceivable that the Virtual Classrooms in vocational training could become a permanent part. Travel and accommodation will only be necessary for practical modules, which will bring great cost benefits to a giant empire like China. Investments in mobile devices will then be less decisive, especially if “physical distancing” is still necessary. TÜV Rheinland Academy will also be able to organize the assessment of performance levels and even examinations online in the future using tried and tested tools. And the experience we all made during the pandemic shows that many things can be implemented sensibly in the development of technical skills in the Virtual Classroom.

Here you can find the current offers in Virtual Classrooms of TÜV Rheinland Academy.

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Virtual classrooms have been around for a long time, but since Corona, they have become even more popular. Providers of further education like TÜV Rheinland Academy digitalized their regular seminar offer within a short time and modified the training methods and didactics. The aim is to use digital technology effectively for all learning types with Virtual Classrooms (VC).

Training in seminar rooms is only possible with a hygiene concept until a vaccine is discovered. The “physical distancing” is valid indefinitely. However, further occupational training must not be allowed to fall by the wayside. For companies and their employees, there are excellent opportunities, especially now. As long as many companies are still in short-time work, the time can be used to extend the Corona-related learning curves. In times of low workload, investments in the qualification of employees are worthwhile.

Because by building up competence, employers and employees strengthen their competitiveness for the future of work. Furthermore, anyone taking part in further training in a Virtual Classroom from their home office or via mobile device today enjoys a lively learning world with interaction and fun, including simultaneous monitoring of learning success.

From e-Learning to Virtual Classrooms

Concepts and technical solutions for lively, interactive formats of corporate knowledge transfer have been around since the 90s. Synchronous learning media have been part of professional training from the very beginning. Those who spoke of e-learning usually had web-based training in mind. Limiting factors were often the technical infrastructure or the lack of bandwidth. Interaction between participants and trainers took place via chats or telephone conferences.

To support the participants even better in designing their learning environment and learning progress, educational institutions and universities developed Virtual Classrooms, which take place synchronously and live in class. All trainers, moderators, and participants are connected live via webcam and headsets. This opens up educational and methodological possibilities that are almost equal to those of real seminars.

In addition to the traditional whiteboard lecture by a trainer, participants can exchange views in open discussions followed by an online participant survey. This happens in a video conference, which also gets a new liveliness through chats.

Participants can also make their contributions, give speeches, and record presentations or videos from their computers. In addition to this, working groups can be formed; asynchronous newsgroups complement the exchange within the framework of digital learning, which has the great advantage of being able to combine an entire toolset for synchronous and asynchronous learning processes (Blended Learning).

Virtual Classrooms: Immediate feedback for trainers and participants

Because people’s learning behavior is different, some have a short attention span and are easily distracted, which was a particular challenge in the home office during the Corona pandemic and still is in some instances. Some need fixed structures; others prefer to divide up the learning material themselves. In all situations, some form of social interaction is desirable to revive the joy of learning and learning progress. The recurring challenge for education providers and competence partners is to meet all these needs within the framework of digital learning – especially in times of Corona.

Good trainers use the knowledge of the learning types in their courses to adapt their educational modules to these optimally. Impulse presentations of thirty or more minutes, which were common in the past, are divided up into several smaller ones. These can be varied with videos, group work, and flash surveys to involve the participants in the further course of the seminar unit. All in all, the lessons are more interactive, multimedia-based, and sometimes also with playful elements.
Trainers use short one-on-one conversations to check individual learning statuses. In this way, they receive immediate feedback, for example, to close gaps in knowledge early on by repeating the lessons. And even performance assessments can now be carried out in a legally compliant manner using appropriate tools with clear identification.

Digital and conventional training will complement each other even more closely in the future

Even if the practical skills still have to be trained in the future, as in the case of welder training, the necessary theoretical knowledge can certainly be taught in a Virtual Classroom  – possibly supplemented by innovative digital approaches, such as a virtual reality scenario. This allows smaller groups to use available practical training places alternately. In any case, the trainers from TÜV Rheinland Academy have shown during the Corona shutdown that they can also convey previously conventional offerings successfully from their seminar portfolio in Virtual Classrooms.

Above all, feedback from participants also shows that they experienced a lively learning world with interaction and fun. One participant put it in a nutshell: “For two days, I took part in an online seminar at TÜV Rheinland. The tutor was professional, serious, and responsible. Instead of seemingly boring terms and lessons, I experienced enthusiastic explanations that stay in my mind. To every question, the trainer responded in time and with a smile and gave professional answers. And she also asked questions so that we could interact well. The three-day Virtual Classroom has awakened my enthusiasm to continue learning online. ”

Here you can find the current online offer of TÜV Rheinland Academy from Virtual Classrooms to e-learnings by simply choosing your country.

 

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So-called Extended Reality (XR) technologies are enjoying great popularity in education. After all, it can be used to convey a wide variety of learning content in an extremely practice-oriented way. But how does this actually work? An overview.

Try it Extended Reality. It’s about studying: That’s why flight simulators have been around for almost as long as the aircraft itself. The first were built more than a hundred years ago and consisted of mobile platforms that could be used to simulate the most important flight movements. A seat, a joystick, a few ball joints: these were the beginnings of pilot training.

Immerse yourself in virtual learning worlds

Today, on the other hand, the first dry runs for young pilots feel much more realistic – not least because airlines are increasingly relying on so-called XR technologies for pilot training. XR stands for Extended Reality and combines different virtual technologies under one roof. In modern flight simulators, for example, virtual reality tools play a major role. This allows challenging situations such as storms or engine failures to be simulated realistically. The advantage: Those who have already familiarized themselves with the imponderables of airspace in a flight simulator will be much more familiar with the first real cross-country flights. To make such realistic experiences possible on the ground, you only need two things: VR glasses and a computer program that generates the desired environment. When the user puts on the VR glasses, he can immerse himself in this artificially generated environment and move freely in it virtually. In contrast to a film or video game, it is no longer an observer, but part of the scenery.

Augmented Reality (AR): adding information to the real world

Next to Extended Reality, VR technologies enable immersion in virtual worlds, and Augmented Reality (AR) enriches reality with artificial elements. In concrete terms, this means that users remain in the real world, where they can perceive not only real information but also computer-generated information or content. In other words: VR technologies put the user in a virtual environment. AR, on the other hand, brings virtual objects into the real world.

Augmented Reality technologies are also used for training purposes. For example, trainees with special glasses can safely work on virtual welding objects, as it is already the case with the training at TÜV Rheinland Academy. With the help of TÜV Rheinland, RWE Power has also simplified training for maintenance work on bucket wheel excavators and other heavy equipment using Extended Reality technologies – and can thus relieve operators of large equipment. To this end, maintenance personnel are trained via data goggles so that they can perform their tasks safely for people and the environment and effectively – even if their last assignment was a few months ago. Different levers and switches are visualized through the glasses in the form of holograms, functions of the switching elements in the driver’s cab are explained in detail, work processes are explained step by step. The application is not faded in statically in the image field, but blends seamlessly into the real environment. In the case of RWE, this means that the training of maintenance personnel not only takes place in the “classroom”, but thanks to XR also on the heavy equipment itself. The application, developed by TÜV Rheinland’s Digital Learning team, detects the shovel excavator’s driver’s cab and positions the hologram of each control element exactly where it should be. This enables maintenance personnel to find all the necessary levers and switches in no time at all and to apply the practical knowledge acquired by AR in practice without any problems.

TÜV Rheinland Akademie_XT Technologien_DigitalLearning3

Extended Reality – an important trend in the teaching of technical skills

It is not for nothing that Extended Reality technologies are regarded as an important future trend in the education sector. They pave the way for location-independent and thus cost-effective training courses, are much more fun than conventional training courses and – most importantly – ensure that the practical transfer of theoretical learning content is successful. Accordingly, TÜV Rheinland Academy is currently consistently expanding its range of XR training solutions, for example in the area of forklift driving licenses or in the area of mobility and engineering. As the Chinese philosopher, Confucius says: “Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember; involve me and I will understand“.

Competence Management TÜV Rheinland Academy