Inside the SME’s Studio: 3 FAQs about eMPS

Last month we launched eMPS, our new Maintenance Planning and Scheduling eLearning. We’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback, and some great questions coming in. I sat down with Tara Holwegner, our Learning Subject Matter Expert (SME), to answer your burning questions about eMPS. Tara is a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) and a Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP). She was one of the main eMPS architects working with our work management subject matter experts Roger Corley, Tim Kister and Dave Berube, as well as Bill Wilder, Director of the Life Cycle Institute.

  1. Why should I consider eLearning? When I go to a class, I’m in the classroom learning for several days. I get to talk to other people in the class and learn from them too. If I purchase eLearning, I don’t get that interaction.
    I hear you. Live instruction that incorporates adult learning principles (honors experience, active, relevant to the learner’s work and self-directed) is the most effective instructional method to acquire application-level learning. Having said that, current learning theory will tell you that only 10% of learning happens through formal instructional methods (classroom, online, assigned reading, etc.). 90% of learning happens through on-the-job application, stretch goals, coaching, mentoring, etc. The Life Cycle Institute utilizes this model for adult learning with our 3A Learning Process.

Additionally, we have found that “flipping the classroom”, or offering online courses first, then holding an instructor-led session where practical application is observed and coached for improvement has brought great results. There are many strategies an organization can use to build competency. For example, if you’d like to build a competency in your organization around Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM), you can lead with a classroom course, include eLearning for post-course support and require on-the-job activities that transfer learning from the classroom to the jobsite. Conversely, an organization could choose to begin with eLearning for basic concepts, then schedule focused coaching sessions with practical on-the-job activities to sustain conversion from concept to skill. The most important thing to respect is the balance of the learning scale – invest in a quality, impactful 10% for formal learning and put thought and effort into the remaining 90% that will make a difference for your company.

We’re frequently asked to help build these learning ecosystems for our clients and use learning impact maps, online learning management systems (which we sometimes host) or manual learning transfer systems to ensure learners practice the knowledge they learn in formal instruction in their job environment and justify the investment made by their company. 

  1. eLearning seems pretty simple to create – why would I spend money on a seat or site license? There are lots of user-friendly tools I can use to create screencasts of Powerpoint slides, add narration, animation and quizzes. Why shouldn’t I build my own eLearning?
    Screencasts and recordings are great for a simple transactional skills and single point lessons (e.g. how to submit a work request); however, when dealing with more advanced learning objectives and concepts, I would avoid in-house building without professional eLearning design and development support. There is a lot of home-grown “eLearning” out there that is just “e” without the “learning.” We create our curriculum incorporating the knowledge and expertise from Subject Matter Experts with years of experience in Maintenance & Reliability across various industries.

Typical design and development hours to build a mid-to-higher fidelity eLearning project can range anywhere from 80:1 to 250:1 depending on level of interactivity, graphics, etc. Cost is definitely a factor. For an organization to build a product like eMPS in-house they would need to budget hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  1. How can I justify an investment in training?
    Results are the only way to prove an investment was worth it. To justify and secure training investments, we suggest you define what knowledge or skill needs to be taught, what action the learner can take after training (realistically in 30 days), what will happen if the learner takes that action, and what high-level organizational goal will those action and results support.

The tricky part of documenting all of these items for a cohort of learners is tracking them through the post-course application process. We set up the expectation of what we want them to learn and do when they return to work, but how will we track and monitor if they practice or execute that learning once they return from training or finish the eLearning module?

One of the cool things about eMPS is that we have designed practical “action item” to-do lists inside the program. Managers don’t have to “think-up” an activity for the person in training to execute on the job to prove they have the capability to try and/or master a competency. They can go directly from instruction to application. This sounds simple, but can get quite tricky when you’re managing many development activities and tracking individual paths.

When we created eMPS, we wanted to offer an “easy button” for clients trying to build a group or enterprise-wide competency. For these clients, we host the learning and the client appoints an administrator that can run reports on the team and view a dashboard that shows which modules have been completed, login frequency, completion of action items, quiz and test results, etc.

© Life Cycle Engineering, Inc.

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