Last updated on November 17, 2020

hybrid training concept by eFunctionalSafety - mix online e-Learning and traditional classroom training to achieve better all-round competence with functional safety

How do you get valued staff and contractors to engage with Process Safety, Functional Safety and similar "tricky" subjects? Send them on a training course or ask them to take some online training? How about both? An online plus classroom experience might just be the answer to getting a step-change in safety culture in your organisation. If that's of interest then read on.

Face to face training

Everyone knows the typical face-to-face training experience. You pitch up at a pre-agreed venue and you hope beyond hope that you won't be subjected to "death by presentation slide" for the next few days.

The reason that many training courses lack effective presentation material is usually down to the amount of effort expended by the training organisation. It takes just a few minutes to produce a training slide with bullet points. It takes a little longer to make each slide a little more interesting with a relevant picture. It takes even longer to make great presentation slides with well-designed and relevant drawings that hang together and tell a complete story.

Of course, it's not just about the training materials but also about the way they are used. Nobody wants to sit through a presentation where someone just "reads the slides". The best course presenters bring the materials to life by telling anecdotes from their own experience. They use exercises and seek participation from attendees without putting any individual in the spotlight.

Online e-Learning

Other than face-to-face training, many people will also have experienced some form of online self-paced e-Learning course. If handled correctly, the benefits include the obvious cost reduction of not sending people away for long periods and being able to have many more people learn at one time. If the e-Learning is hosted on a professional learning management system it's also possible to get reports about each individual's progress, quiz and assessment results for competence management purposes.

However, just like face-to-face course materials, online learning can vary dramatically based upon the effort that was put in by the designers. Very early online courses tended to be a slide of text and a "next" button to proceed to the next slide. Perhaps at the end there would be a quiz or similar assessment of knowledge.

Early "Computer-based Training" or CBT courses were installed in lonely training rooms where staff were expected to head to sit through a course installed on a training computer. With the advent of cloud computing, modern e-Learning courses will run on any computer, tablet or even a mobile phone anywhere where there is an internet connection.

Well developed online courses should supplement text with audio narration (not just reading the slides), video, interactive slides and other elements such as animation that will engage the learner.

The above animated sequence is from an eFunctionalSafety online learning module about SIS operations.

Hybrid Learning

Using the best from face-to-face training and online learning, there is a 3rd option which involves a combination of the two formats. This can be done in any combination to suit individual client needs, but here are a few examples I have seen work:

  • People planning to attend a course can first review several online introductory modules before attending, and then be offered further online modules after attending the face-to-face course. If they engage both before and after a face-to-face course, then they should be much better informed in the long term.
  • Attendees who complete a face-to-face course are afterwards offered participation in several modules that extend the face-to-face learning a little further in a specific area. The online training can even take the form of "live" instructor-led sessions if standard self-paced modules do not exist.

About the author 

Jon Keswick, CFSE

Jon Keswick is a Certified Functional Safety Expert (CFSE) and founder of eFunctionalSafety. Feel free to make contact via Linked-In or comment on any of the eFunctionalSafety blog pages.

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