Reach, accessibility, value and effectiveness of live, on-line, remote learning for engineers and energy professionals all over the world

While COVID and COVID related constraints have been a bane for professionals all around the world, as the old adage goes, we CAN upend this challenge into an opportunity, and many industries, commercial entities, institutions, organizations, and governments deserve credit for having done just that.

Many around the world feel that professional development related learning is most effective in, live, in person setting. In my opinion, that is absolutely correct. Until we confronted the pandemic, most technical, science and engineering professionals felt strongly in favor of in-person learning for their professional development.

However, at Semtrain (Semtrain, LLC, www.sem-train.com), we have found the last fifteen-month pandemic period to be transformational. Out of necessity, we transformed most of our engineering and energy professional development courses into live, on-line, courses, and were able to meet our targeted participation goal. So, here is what we learnt:

  • In most cases, ANY webinar – synonymous with on-line, live, seminars or courses – can be participated in from ANYWHERE in the world, with consideration of time zone difference around the world. See example** of an online, live, seminar scheduled for Far-East (Singapore) and Middle East (Bahrain, UAE, KSA, etc.) audience at the end of this post.
  • When you see the label “on-line, live,” the modality of the course, seminar or webinar should, truly, be real-time, live, instruction, with a live instructor. The instructor should answer questions from the audience/participants, either through chat or verbally. In fact, most of Semtrain instructors share their contact information in case someone in the audience is unable to get their questions answered during the live seminar.
  • When you attend a “live, on-line” seminar or course to satisfy the CEU or PDH (Professional Development Hour), most, if not all, professional state boards DO NOT require that attendees successfully pass a quiz. Many professionals eschew quizzes, I am one of them!
  • In most cases, live, on-line seminars are considered to be equivalent to live, in-person, seminars by most state boards and certifying entities.
  • The “value” delivered by live, on-line, seminars escalates exponentially when you consider the following benefits:
    • No need to travel. No travel time away from families and home offices. As the old clichéd axiom goes: “time is money!”
    • No venue costs, therefore, the live, on-line, seminars courses are priced lower.
    • Virtually no risk of transmission or exposure to any virus or contagion when you attend, virtually, from the safety of your home!
    • Many live, on-line, seminars are recorded – especially if requested by the participants. Therefore, if you happen to miss a portion of the live webinar due to unforeseen circumstances, and if your board permits,* you can make up for the missed portion of the live seminar by viewing the recording.
    • Registration deadlines for online, live, seminars are not as strict. At Semtrain, we allow participants to sign up for webinars as late as the morning of.
    • In general, there are more topics available and offered in webinar format. This is, primarily, due to instructor travel constraints and lower, minimum, registration limits associated with live, on-line, seminars and courses.
  • A piece of advice for those who have been adamantly entrenched against live, on-line, seminars and courses in the past: Try at least one such seminar/webinar through a proven reputable seminar or course provider. Visit the course provider’s website and read testimonials on that specific on-line, live, course. See example of testimonials at our website at: https://6ns.eb3.myftpupload.com/testimonials/
  • All in all, webinars, or online live seminars, are just as beneficial as the live, in-person, seminars, at lower cost. Of course, with the webinars, you do miss out on the refreshments and the person-to-person sidebars!

As we look past the current pandemic, many of us can’t for that person-to-person contact, the handshake and the smiles that only in-person seminars, courses and technical expos provide, but from our experience, we will always enjoy the bliss that live, on-line, learning DOES work and will always be there as a viable alternative.

* Check with your board or certifying organization. Some state boards and certifying entities allow making up of a small portion of the live seminar through a recording.

** Electrical Power Transmission and Distribution course on 23rd – 24th of June. This course will be conducted from 12pm-5pm Singapore time (GMT+8), or, 12:00 AM to 5:00 AM US EDT. If interested in attending, my LinkedIn connections can save 5% on the registration cost by emailing: eva@weventz.sg with the code “WEventzBobby5.” Also, visit www.sem-train.com for many other, on-demand courses, self-study courses, webinars, and in-person courses scheduled for this summer, fall and winter.

Bobby Rauf, PE, CEM, CMT, MBA

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