Building a Blended Portfolio of Continuing Education Tools

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Building a Blended Portfolio of Continuing Education Tools

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“Blended learning” is about combining different types of exposure to educational content to address the fact that people learn in different ways. Some people learn best by hearing, some by reading, some by doing, etc. The best educational programs include a “blending” of some or all of these. Water Otter provides a program establishing a solid core curriculum, but we always recommend supplementing our program with other learning experiences.

Benefits of online education

Online courses are becoming more popular in the water and wastewater industry. Here are a few reasons many operators prefer online courses.

1 - Scheduling flexibility

With so many things going on in our busy world, online courses offer unmatched convenience and flexibility. Whether you are a night owl or an early bird, online classes let you log in and complete your work when it’s most convenient. You can study anytime and anywhere. Get CEUs on your schedule, without spending money on lodging and travel or losing time at work. 

2 - Lower overall costs for courses and minimizing travel cost and hassle

Courses taken online saves on gas, hotel rooms, meals and time. This translates into substantial savings, which is a major perk for cost-conscious operators, companies and municipalities. The money saved can be used for other employee incentives or to reduce the overall cost of operations.  

3 - Increased networking opportunities

Online courses and our Community Discussion Forum let you interact with operators in locations all over the country. This can lead to ideas and solutions not considered in your locality. Networking is, in itself, a form of continuing education. Online programs make it easy to be a passive participant, but the networking possibilities are a huge benefit.

4 - Perfect for busy lives and busy operators

Are you working full-time and raising a family? Online education lets you build courses around your routine. You can spend time with your family, and you don’t have to hire an expensive babysitter. Distance education is perfect for anyone with a hectic calendar or folks that are not able to take time away from work.

5 - Variety of courses (and availability)

Another advantage of online learning is that you can choose from an abundance of online courses. Some educators, like Water Otter, allow you to take as many courses as you want with a membership. Best of all, you can take what you need when you need it — all courses are available all the time.

Benefits of virtual learning

Virtual learning offers many of the same benefits of online learning. The big difference is that virtual learning is typically live, and although the operator and instructor are physically separated they can interact online.

1 - Scheduling flexibility

Like online courses, virtual classes are good for operators that must take classes after hours or on weekends. Course schedules may not be as flexible as online learning depending on the provider, but many live virtual sessions are also available as recorded sessions.

2 - Lower costs for courses and travel

Just like online classes, virtual courses save on gas, hotel rooms, meals and time. In some cases, virtual courses may be offered as an extension of online programs with reduced costs for members.

Benefits of in-person courses

Although typically a more costly option, in person courses can sometimes offer benefits of their own. They can also be difficult to schedule effectively.

1 - Distraction-free environment

In a classroom you won’t be distracted by outside stimuli like children, pets or work. Successful education demands focus and concentration. Seminars and trade show learning is often distracting and disruptive and not conducive to learning.

2 – Group learning

In-person courses allow for assembling a team for group learning. This can ensure that everyone gets the same information, the same way. It also allows for interaction between team members that can prove valuable.

Benefits of hands-on learning

As we’ve pointed out, not all operators learn the same way. Some like hands-on and some courses can benefit from (and actually require) live hands-on experiences.

1 – Direct access to things that simply can’t be taught effectively any other way

The ability to interact with the instructor and take detailed notes can be very helpful for many subjects.  

2 – Retain information

The ability to touch and feel, and actually “do” things can make retention of certain experiences easier. The use of visual aids in a live environment enhances courses. Although valuable, be aware that many of these courses may be conducted by the equipment manufacturers and may not allow for CEUs to be earned. 

If hands-on learning is important there are options for both in-person classes and field opportunities.

At Water Otter we believe in blended education. We know that it extends the value of our courses and allows for a more diverse and complete education. While we strongly recommend the use of our program as a broad core curriculum, it is our goal to also inform our members of other learning opportunities (offered by us and by others) to assist our members in developing the best portfolio of learning experiences suited to their specific needs.

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