Filling the GAP in Continuing Education

As a passionate believer in the value of education, I am continually disappointed at our overall development of application-challenged graduates.  Whether graduating from top-tier universities, trade schools, or other educational programs, there continues to be no shortage of students who are prepared for test questions, but are totally unprepared to apply their knowledge. This has been a well-recognized shortfall of SOL: the standardized testing program in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

As we develop our curriculum at Water Otter, one of our primary objectives is to fill the GAP that exists between Gaining new knowledge through education and Applying that knowledge in a way that results in increased Productivity with real value. Learning facts, skills, and ways to apply talents seems to be the end game of formal education, but it is only the start for those employers looking to hire new employees.

gap-blog-image-2

Employees need people that know how to Apply their newfound knowledge in a manner that leads to increased Productivity. As an example, teaching a salesperson about all the technical features and benefits of a new product, can be of value only if he/she understands how to Apply those features and benefits in ways that bring real value to their customer.

Likewise, the customer that buys and is trained to use that product can only benefit from their knowledge of the technology if they understand how to Apply that technology to their process. Continuing education has an opportunity to play a vital role in helping employees learn how to Apply their knowledge in ways that increase productivity.

So how do we fill the GAP?  At Water Otter, we start by understanding that continuing education is about more than just courses. That’s why we’ve established a new continual learning program that includes access to course material as a reference that is quickly and easily reviewed AND access to peer-to-peer community discussions where common experiences can be shared, including other online resource materials for further exploration. In other words, it is an extension of continuing education beyond just a “bunch of courses/credits” to include tools that add the complementary knowledge needed to solve real world problems. THIS is where education returns its value. This is also the distinction between traditional continuing education and the modern e-learning continual education, hosted on an advance Learning Management System that provides learners with a well-rounded learning experience.

By offering our program on an LMS, members have 24/7 access to our program. Education is of little value if it is unavailable when needed. The days of taking boring classes in stagnant environments are over. We also structure our program so our learners only pay an annual fee, instead of paying for their education in pieces. This eliminates much headache and frustration, not to mention the cost savings. This means, our members have UNLIMITED access year-round.

Education today is about having the tools you need, when you need them. It’s about problem solving and adding productive value. It’s time to overcome the GAP and redefine the way we measure the value of education.  At Water Otter, we believe that the real value of continuing education should be measurable in dollars and cents!

 

Written by 

Terry Looney
Water Otter
Managing Director

 

 

The Top 5 FAQs For W &WW Online Continuing Education

What are the requirements for a water and/or wastewater online course to be as compliant as a live course?

There are four basic requirements that make a course compliant with state standards.

  1. Attendance– a user must be present for the entire course.
  2. Engagement – a user must be engaged throughout the course.
  3. Time fulfillment – courses must meet a time requirement. For example, an hour of credit time is defined by the state as 50 minutes. So a user must take 50 minutes of courses to complete one credit hour.
  4. State-approved topic – course content must be a topic from “subject matter” state lists defined by each state.

How do I know if online courses are state-approved?

This is one of the most important pieces of information you should consider when looking at an online C.E. program. You must receive a certificate of completion for every course you take. Each state has its own policy and guidelines for continuing education courses so you may or may not need to submit your certificates to your state regulatory agency. Our program keeps an online record of your transcripts and certificates, easily accessible through your account and available for download, to print at anytime you wish.

You will also want to be sure the courses you take comply with state “topic-approved” lists, as defined by each state. Please refer to your state website for details. Helpful NOTE: a common reason courses may not be approved is if they do not comply with the standards of approved “subject matter” as previously mentioned. Our “certified” courses are COMPLIANT in all states and we offer curricula for ALL states. We are PRE-APPROVED in most states. States provide us with pre-approval verification codes, which can be found on our certificates of completion to make it easier for course submittal. Curious where to find this information?  Simply look at the footer of your certificate of completion.

certificate-of-completion_state-approval-numbers

Aren’t there courses online that I can take to earn 2 credit hours in about 30 minutes?

NO, this is not compliant. If you take a course that you can “fast forward” through, or simply walk away from while the video is playing and return when it is over, you have not met the required standard for state compliance. You can rest easy that our program meets the regulations of state standards. Our courses are formatted to require consistent engagement; we include fun questions, games, and interactive slide content.

Water Otter course format: Each 2-hour course pack consists of four instructional courses – one full course pack = 2 credit hours. You can easily take a course in 20-30 minutes. Our courses are self-paced so you can complete them whenever it is convenient for you. You may start, stop, and resume when you are ready. Each course pack meets the three requirements to make a course compliant.

What are the benefits of an online program?

Most online continuing education programs are attractive to learners because they offer accessibility and convenience. One of the many advantages of our program is that you can take our courses ANYWHERE & ANYTIME. We even have courses available to take on tablets and mobile devices. You can access our program 24/7. We also have friendly customer and tech support that will answer any questions you have and troubleshoot technical issues with ease and a personable attitude.

Additional Water Otter Program Benefits:

  • Industry-unique “Earn as you learn” Rewards feature – We reward our learners with coins for every course they take and extra for frequent participation and usage of our program’s many features. You can redeem these coins for free Water Otter rewards.
  • Self-guided, self-paced courses.
  • Program features that accommodate different learning styles.
  • Significantly reduced costs – Zero travel or expensive conference/trade show fees or staff replacement for absent employees.
  • Relaxed environment – You can take our courses from the comforts of your own home or anywhere you like.
  • Digital filing cabinet – Keep all your records of transcripts and certificates in one place for easy access and peace of mind.
  • Peer-to-peer sharing and discussion forum – Network and discuss the latest industry topics. Share expertise and ask questions with other professionals in our community discussion forum.


Do I need to buy additional course materials?

NO. Part of our commitment to presenting a complete online continual education experience is the promise that our program has no hidden fees, including additional reference materials, which can be costly. Instead, we provide all course materials within each course pack to assist the learner with the information needed to understand and successfully complete each course. We also have an extensive, searchable resource library with additional reference materials that you can use for exam prep, job hunting, and daily operations.

 

If you have any questions regarding this information, please feel free to call us at 877-378-8111 or send us an email at admin@water-otter.com.

October Featured Courses

This month we take a look at basic math calculations and the three most common tests run in water and wastewater systems.

Course 1001.1 – Calculations Into Operations (Part 1 of 4)
Course Pack 1001 – Operational Math

Our first featured course is part of a progressive math series that focuses on basic calculations at a scale up from an introductory level. It is intended for water and wastewater operators at every class level. The participant is provided workbooks that include an extremely useful index of 168 formulas, illustrated with flow charts and conversion charts, and organized by math problem subject matter. The Index of Formulas provides participants with a tool enabling them to “zero in “ on the proper formula to use when solving equations related to water and wastewater operations.

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-10-35-47-am

Course 1001.1 provides the participant with knowledge and instruction in regard to selecting the correct formula (from those provided in the workbook) for operational calculations.

Course 1026.4 – Operations and Reporting (Part 4 of 4)
Course Pack 1026 – The Three Stooges of Water & Wastewater

Course Pack 1026 explores the three most common tests run in water and wastewater systems. Through visuals and lively discussion, this course gives the operator the opportunity to get the most out of their testing skills. Employing pH, Chlorine, and DO testing apparatus is a five-step process: election, use, care, verification, and maintenance. Learn numerous helpful hints to achieve solid, verifiable, accurate, and viable test results for operations and reporting purposes.

Screen Shot 2016-10-26 at 10.57.25 AM.png

In Course 1026.4 we go over what to look for in common meter technology. Discover calibration hints, care and maintenance tips, DO meter guidelines, troubleshooting tips, and learn more about about luminescent technology.

 
To view these course and more, click the button below and select, “Member Login”. If you are not already a member, you can easily sign up for a demo of our program by clicking here to get started.

log-in-here-to-view-courses-3

Questions about our program? Contact us at admin@water-otter.com or (877) 378-8111. We’ll walk you through it!

September Featured Courses:

Our first post in a monthly series that highlights a variety of Water Otter courses. This month we take a look at microscope features and process management:

Course 1018.1 – Microscope Features and Benefits (Part 1 of 4)
Course Pack 1018 – Simple Microscope Applications

This one of a kind workshop was written to help wastewater operators obtain better process control through microscopic examination of mixed liquors and other waste streams. We begin with the basics by defining the selection process and features and benefits, and then compare and contrast features, since better features usually translate to better results (but not always).

Other lectures in this sequence explore cost factors, sampling and slide preparation, maintenance, staining techniques, and sample examination. The course pack concludes with organism class identification and how the presence, absence, mobility, and number of various classes of organisms translate to wastewater process control. Through graphics, visuals, and lecture, even the most advanced operator will find this program skill enhancing. NOTE: this program is not a bug identification class.

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-12-19-38-pm

Course 1028.3 – Avoiding Violations
Course Pack 1028 – Ten Little Known Secrets for Process Management

Find out how refining process tests for disinfection residuals, solids core-taking, and jar testing can help to avoid violations. Explore simplified nutrient monitoring methods for process control.

Other lectures in this sequence explore techniques one can use to achieve better process operations in treatment, distribution, or collection. This superb verbal presentation and outstanding visuals help you learn why temperature measurements may be your most important measurement, why simple hypochlorite strength measurements are important, why portable ORP & Alkalinity testing can yield big wastewater monitoring dividends, and how refining process tests for disinfection residuals, solid core-taking, and jar testing can avoid violations. Learn why potable water corrosion management isn’t just water chemistry, explore simplified nutrient monitoring methods for process control, and see what two key inexpensive tools are missing from most treatment plant tool boxes.

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-12-18-20-pm

To view these course and more, click the button below and select, “Member Login”. If you are not already a member, you can easily sign up for a demo of our program by clicking here to get started.

log-in-here-to-view-courses-3

Questions about our program? Contact us at admin@water-otter.com or (877) 378-8111. We’ll walk you through it!

10 Simple Steps to Create a Cost-Effective Continual Education Program

It has been said, that a knowledgeable employee is a valuable one, and it is also commonly known that a well-treated employee is a happy one. Research shows that offering competitive benefits and fostering employee development are two of the top ways to keep skilled employees and build loyalty.

Developing a strong continual education program accomplishes both of these objectives and provides an employer with increased productivity and performance from an educated staff.

It’s important to differentiate between creating a continuing education program and a CONTINUAL education program. All too often the status quo of continuing education calls for taking occasional courses to meet requirements. “Continual learning” on the other hand, replaces the mindset of meeting requirements with a measurable, ongoing, collaborative culture that encourages progressive learning and constant growth.

This interactive learning results in better material retention and real-world application. A well-conceived and contentiously implemented program of continual education raises the bar for learning, thereby improving individual job performance and overall operations.

Here are 10 easy steps to help you create such a program:

1 – Ensure quality. Quality over quantity, as the saying goes. Make sure that compliance to regulatory standards and content quality are the first priority.

2 – Include everyone. Too many organizations include only those employees in positions that REQUIRE continuing education. Build a culture of continual learning that includes everyone.

3 – Make it interactive, convenient, and easy to use. The ability to access full features of an e-learning program on multiple devices is expected in today’s culture. In addition to this, the more interactive the program is, the more valuable it’s considered. Make certain the program is user-friendly and performs well to ensure frequent use and engagement.

4 – Create a standardized curriculum. Defeat the random course mentality and create a program of study with measurable goals, objectives, rewards, and recognition.

5 – Extend your program beyond courses. Some of the best learning opportunities come from peer-to-peer sharing. Find ways to incorporate discussion so your employees can contribute to each other’s learning experiences.

6 – Customize the experience for your organization. Add content that is specific to your organization or facility. Spend a little extra, if necessary, to create a personalized learning environment.

7 – Build in incentives. Drive your culture change by including performance recognition, providing rewards, and creating internal competitions.

8– Manage your cost. Traditional continuing education is expensive. Most operations spend more than they think in hidden costs of travel, time off for attending live events, replacing employees, etc. Building your own training program can be costly, but will save you money in comparison and bring you a long-term return on investment.

9 – Brand your program. Customized branding makes it your own, demonstrating a commitment to fostering employee development and thereby building employee loyalty.

10 – Don’t go it alone. Find a partner company that can provide the tools to make it convenient and cost-effective to establish, continually develop, and administer your program. This will significantly reduce your cost.

How do YOU create a culture of continual learning for your employees?

Are you interested in a continual education program for water and wastewater professionals but not sure where to start? Give us a call at Water Otter, we’ll walk you through it!

Contact: admin@water-otter.com | (877) 378-8111 | www.teamwaterotter.com

Like this post? Follow us for more content like this on our LinkedIn page!