Guest Column - May 2010
Find a printable version here

Aquatic Training

Trends in Aquatic Training
The Transition to E-Learning

By Alex Antoniou, Ph.D., and Thomas M. LachockI, Ph.D.


Another advantage in converting instructor-led training to online training is the fact that it decreases the amount of time students spend learning. Online learning helps with training time flexibility. The time reduction varies according to the course and the amount of material included. The rule-of-thumb is that an online course will take 40 percent to 50 percent less time than an instructor-led course. For example, if the classroom course takes 10 hours to teach, the online course will take the student four to five hours to complete. Thus, a full weeklong classroom course can be reduced to around two days online.

As a result of the benefits, online learning is emerging in many ways. There is a spectrum of courses available today covering facility operations, risk management, emergency response planning, pool operations and service, as well as safety and management training and software training. A growing number of private and for-profit colleges and universities are incorporating online training into their degree programs.

In addition to formal online courses, other online learning tools are emerging. For example, informal seminars are becoming more readily available online. Webinars are becoming more popular to obtain short, topic-specific training. Some organizations record their conference seminars on video and post them online, on-demand for viewing after the conference has finished. Such advances bring the most cutting-edge information around the world, and avoid the need to travel to acquire the knowledge. These seminars also can be converted to podcasts for viewing on a smartphone, for even greater convenience. Additionally, applications for smartphones are emerging, such as those for Apple iPhones, making pool calculations easy and accessible on a technician's and manager's phones.

Although e-learning has many benefits, it will not replace all instructor-led training. The use of technology for learning is becoming ubiquitous. People no longer see it as separate from traditional learning. E-learning is a powerful tool for managers, company owners, trainers, instructional designers and others to have an effect on skills and performance. Good teachers can help create context and interact with students to customize the learning environment.

More recreation facilities are taking advantage of the power and benefit of online learning. In parallel, innovative educators are offering a broader array of online course content. However, any organization that is successful in developing or using online training knows that good online learning requires several features. The online content must have the right content, and present the right design and the right technology. Yet, more is needed. To ensure their success, just as much attention must be paid to engaging learners, motivating managers and energizing their organizations.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alex Antoniou, Ph.D., is the director of educational programs and Thomas M. Lachocki, Ph.D., is the CEO of the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to healthier living through aquatic education and research. NSPF instructors and online courses reach more than 240,000 pool and spa industry professionals around the world. To learn more, visit www.nspf.org.