Guidance for Moving Training Online: Learn, Adapt, Improve Your Program

Resources to Keep Your Clean Energy Training Organization Relevant in the Age of COVID-19

Indeed we are living in strange and remarkable times. Just a few short weeks ago, none of us could have predicted how suddenly and dramatically our lives would change. Yet in that space of time, each of us has lifted the mantle of new job responsibilities or ways to function while steadfastly pursuing a new equilibrium. 

In recent years, IREC has specialized in designing and promoting good online training in the clean energy sector. Needless to say, when doors to training programs had to close, our phone began to ring. 

We heard from clean energy training programs, like those who provide training for workers in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, about their desire to continue to train workers. This mission seems doubly important given the fact that people want to work and now have time to complete important training to support that work. 

Of course, the first question we hear is, “How can we move our training online?”

woman working on computer

The decision to add online training to your clean energy training program is a big one. But whether you are looking for temporary, short-term solutions or considering a long-term change, we’ve got resources to get you started.

The response to this question is WAY bigger than can be answered in a blog post or even a series of posts. But to get you headed in the right direction, we’ve assembled some high-level guidance and resources we think you’ll find beneficial as you work through your decisions. 

Before you dive in, however, if you don’t currently offer online learning, we’d like to urge you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture: 

  1. Do you want to offer online learning as a temporary solution until in-person training can resume?
  2. Are you planning to include online courses as part of your training offerings permanently?

If you are considering a temporary solution—something you can deploy quickly with minimal investment, and return to traditional classroom training as soon as you can—take a look at our suggestions and resources on this page: Providing Short-Term Online Learning During COVID-19.

If this interruption in business as usual is prompting you to make a more strategic and permanent change to your training offerings, you may find it useful to start here: Adding Online Courses to Your Training Program.

Although some learners may express a preference for face-to-face courses, and indeed, some hands-on skills lend themselves better to the classroom or field, online learning can be as effective or more effective than traditional classroom training.

Online learning offers the ability to reach a larger audience, better meet the schedules of adult learners, and reduce travel costs and time out of the field. Plus, the reduced travel means it’s more environmentally friendly—a bonus in our eyes. 

The secret to effective online learning isn’t really a secret. Good training is good training, regardless of the format. However, designing engaging learning for an audience with diverse backgrounds who will primarily perform technical tasks will take work.

Leverage existing resources and cultivate partnerships. Be creative. Stay organized. These unusual times could spur innovation that results in stronger and better training.

In the meantime, explore these resources to help you get started:

  1. Providing Short-Term Online Learning During COVID-19
  2. Adding Online Courses to Your Training Program  
  3. Blended (Hybrid) Learning Solutions (combining online and classroom learning)
  4. Four Principles of Adult Learning and Why They Impact Training Design
  5. Selecting a Learning Management System

Contact us with your questions and solutions to share. We will plan to update these resources and add more as requested.  

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