Cloud-Based Training (Part 2)

Knowledge Retention

Many training programs have subsequently arrived at a blended learning format, with e-Learning providing initial introductory instruction for trainees, and classroom or mentor-led instruction being used for the remainder. In one such case where a new piece of electronic equipment was being rolled out across multiple locations, eLearning was used for initial introductory training and it was found that “those who completed the online training were both confident and competent in using the new equipment in significantly less time than those who did not complete the online training first.”


Placing training online and making it available to personnel as a reference, greatly reduces the number of instructor resources needed to maintain proficiency. eLearning “is particularly effective for refresher training or for learning that extends current knowledge.” It provides a valuable learning resource that trainees can access anytime as needed. eLearning used in this manner greatly improves knowledge retention, “studies show knowledge retention to be higher when learning is based on a need.”

A blended learning program that delivers readily accessible training in an e-Learning format provides consistency and constancy for users. Permitting them a discreet means to redress any gaps in their knowledge before they attend an instructor-led classroom course or mentored-led training program.

Proficiency Gap

eLearning modules, when combined with a suitable Learning Management System (LMS), form a seamless automated training system. LMSs automatically track and sort assessment results, and depending on the types of questions and events an e-Learning module is designed to test for, they can provide a great deal of insight into a user’s strengths, weaknesses, and overall proficiency.


When such results are collected from a large group, either from one site or across a whole organization, they enable one to weigh the effectiveness of a training program as a whole. Over time such data can be mined and analyzed for trends, and provide training administrators with a real tool to redress any observed weaknesses in the knowledge and proficiency of a workforce. Testing results can then be used to determine if the training is adequate; needs to be reworked, or additional training added to address certain problem areas.

Sharpening the Saw

Certainly, the need for process simulators and the benefits of such systems has long been recognized within industries such as petroleum and petrochemical. High-fidelity simulators however are costly to develop, run and maintain. Trainees have a limited amount of simulator time available, and such systems rarely provide any testing or metrics integrated into the simulator itself.


But as the capabilities of desktop PCs and eLearning have grown over the last decade, so has their capacity to deliver simulations. Interactive and dynamic low-fidelity process simulators combined with traditional eLearning content, provide an inexpensive means to train and assess console operators. They are used to familiarize operators with a particular DCS and teach them the fundamentals of process control. They also give them the means to apply what they have learned and hone the skills necessary to operate a process efficiently.


These highly interactive and dynamic e-Learning programs are designed to teach skills and build practical competency in the principles of process control and operations. They can be used to reinforce best practices; execute procedures; practice troubleshooting, and learn to handle critical upset conditions. By using scenario-based simulations of specific situations, operators can also learn how to assess and respond to such conditions without having to experience them firsthand. “The online [simulation] was scenario-based, giving the learner practice at interpreting the procedures and making decisions.” 


Such simulators can be modeled to recreate a specific unit or a generic process can be used. These readily accessible PC-based desktop training programs are generally served online and tied to an LMS to track and assess a user’s performance. Their “benefits quickly outweigh the costs. By not using actual machines for initial operator training, companies will save on individual instructor costs, fuel consumption, machine wear-and-tear, maintenance, engine-use hours, and emissions reduction.”

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