In a capital- and equipment-intensive, high-risk industry such as mining, where lack of on-the-job experience and knowhow can result in costly, sometimes even lethal outcomes—and where companies face the constantly increasing challenge of finding skilled workers in a shrinking labor pool—training is an essential factor in business success. And, given the inherent drawbacks of traditional, classroom style training in the mining environment, where operating sites are often located in remote areas, on-line/on-demand training is becoming an attractive alternative, particularly for smaller operations that don’t have a large enough workforce to justify formal training sessions, or the resources to organize them. A number of specialty vendors offer everything from instructional DVDs and instructor kits to simulator training, and the inventory of on-line training programs is constantly increasing.

For example, Vista Training recently announced that its new Silver Series of Web-based equipment operator training programs gives mines convenient access to task-focused training on many types of heavy equipment, on demand.

The first four programs to be offered as part of the Silver Series (www.vista-training.com/silver) are basic operation and safety for hydraulic excavators, wheel loaders, haul trucks and motor graders. In addition, Vista said it is in the process of developing programs focused on tracked dozers, skid steer loaders, heavy equipment pre-operation inspection and a heavy equipment introduction and safety course. In addition, Vista plans to launch an instructor version of each Silver Series program, which will feature open navigation (so an instructor can easily access the screens in any order) and printable hand-outs.

The programs, which average one hour in length, focus on how to productively and safely perform common tasks in the mine. At the end of each program, an integrated test provides an accurate measure of how much knowledge trainees have retained. They also enable trainees to print a certificate of completion, customized with their name and test score.

Mining technology services supplier Runge Ltd. recently launched a new global online mining course, Smartminer (www.smartminer.com) in North America. Utilizing “blended learning” concepts, the course is targeted at professionals and technical staff in the mining industry, and those who regularly interact with mining personnel.

“This is our first on-line Runge Professional Development course and it is a great alternative for our growing number of customers who, for various reasons, cannot attend a classroom-based course or who may prefer a learning environment where they can progress their learning at their own pace in an interactive manner,” said Gary Gibson, global training manager for Runge.

In general, blended learning integrates e-learning methods such as online delivery, discussion boards and e-mail, with traditional instructor-led methods including lectures, in-person discussions, seminars or tutorials. Some learning models extend blended learning to include virtual online classrooms, self-paced, print-based training, Internet-delivered training, mobile training, and mentoring or informal training via a community of practice.

According to Runge, its courseware can be provided in TaaS (Training as a Service) mode as a fully hosted service, or installed within a mining organization’s existing system.

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