Simutech Multimedia’s Reporting Module

Simutech Multimedia’s Reporting Module

We recently published two blog posts relating to LMS’s. In the first we talked about the power of LMS’s and their ability to simplify user learning and allow managers to deploy and monitor user progress. In the second blog post we discussed the limitation of LMS’s when it comes to reporting that SCORM-compliant LMSs provide to the managers.

In most instances SCORM level data is sufficient. As a manager, you want to know if the learner is progressing in their training and want to make sure that the user is getting an acceptable result. That is adequate when the user is going through typical eLearning classes.

However, when it comes to Simulation training, we have seen through years of past experience that this level of reporting is not sufficient and does not allow you to drill down to understand how well users are really doing.

What’s included in Simutech Multimedia’s Reporting Module

When it comes to learning electrical troubleshooting, you really want to know if the user is practicing good safety protocols, replacing the right parts, is efficient in their troubleshooting, and more. That is why we have developed additional reporting capabilities that complement your LMS and give you a fuller picture of where your trainees are at.

Our reporting module starts by giving the admin overall data about their organization. It covers important things like total hours trained, number of faults solved, and active users. It also provides a similar report on per module or per user view.

For example, if we wanted to take a close look at the data from the Troubleshooting Electrical Circuits module, we can drill down and see several interesting and useful states: that 15 of our 22 users are training in that module, that collectively they have spent 103 hours, and that they’ve solved 49 faults. Additional data tells us that their overall safety rating is at 19%, which means 19% of the attempted faults came with some sort of a safety violation. That kind of information is invaluable to your factory or plant.

Taking a look at the accuracy and efficiency rates, 21% and 12% respectively, these tell us that while the team is quick to solve some faults, it comes at the expense of parts that got changed for no reason, causing loss in labor and money. Something to keep an eye out for.

If we want to better understand the data at the individual level, we can further drill down and see what the report shows us. You can run a report that shows which users have progressed further in the training and what their individual scores are. In looking at this specific user show below, we can see that this person had a safety rating of 48%, that means this user is not understanding or following safety rules, such as lock out/tag out procedure, or is attempting to work with live wire when they are not supposed to. As shown by the hard data, this trainee is a safety risk.

This type of detailed reporting about the successes and failure of a user, and the intricacies of how they behave during a troubleshooting session, helps the maintenance managers who use Simutech focus on those who need added help, and recognizes the work of those who complete their work efficiently and safely.

To put our reporting module in your tool box, contact Simutech today at [email protected] 

The video below shows Simutech Multimedia’s Reporting Module in action.

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Webinar Q&A: Electrical Simulation Training

Webinar Q&A: Electrical Simulation Training

In our last webinar, our CEO Samer Forzley explained in detail the importance of the skills gap, why learning and retention are important and also a sneak peek at our new 3D Simutech Training System!

We also are so excited with the number of questions we’d received and we prepared a Q&A section:

1. What are the operating requirements for the Simutech Training System?
To make your life easier, we have created a tool that will help you to evaluate whether your computer and browser meet our recommended requirements. You can try the tool here.

2. Are there any limitations to the amount of users at one time? For example 100-200+ users
There is no limitation on the number of users you can have.

3. Based on load time from the presentation, could there be issues with sites who have limited bandwidth?
We have a minimum bandwidth requirement of 10 Mbps so if your connection is above that you shouldn’t have any problem.

4. Will you add restrictions based on tool limitations in the future? In the existing program, I can put one meter lead on a terminal on the left side of the room, and the other meter lead on the opposite side of the room
There are no tool limitations being introduced into either version of our product. The simulations for our new product will have a similar set-up, that will allow you to do similar levels of troubleshooting and similar types of measurements in different scenes.

5. Are there any new modules (more than 7) in the new 3D system?
The new version of the product has introduced the idea of ‘Learning Labs’ that precede the Simulation modules, so the 7 classic Simutech modules have been divided up into more, smaller modules. Additionally, we are building a new VFD module.

6. Does it include lessons on theory behind the exercises?
Yes, both of our products include basic electrical knowledge and all the tools you need to be able to troubleshoot the Simulations.

7. Are the only simulations those which you have created or can users create their own simulations based on their equipment?
The simulations cannot be customized, they have been engineered to learn what you need to know.

8. Are the simulations SCORM Compliant?
Yes, all the simulations are SCORM compliant.

9. Are the scores automatically imported into the LMS?
Scores are reported in two different ways:

  • Learning Labs, where you’ll get all the basic knowledge, those scores go directly to the LMS.
  • Troubleshooting Simulations, in this case, the module collects more data than a regular LMS can handle, because we track every click the users are doing in the simulation. The summary of this data goes to our new Reporting Module.

10. Is Simutech working on a version that will be able to run on Chromebooks and/or tablets?
For now, we’re not working on tablet settings, there’s a lot of work behind this and we want to ensure the proper experience to the end-user.

11. Is everything based on American standards? Is there something with European standards?
The existing Simutech Training System works for both, American and European standards and also it’s available in English and Spanish. Our new version which is being launched has been converted into American standards so far. Once the full migration of our courses into the new system is completed, we will be introducing the European standards as an option. Right now we recommend that if you want to train someone in the European standards, that you use our existing product.

12. In previous webinars, Simutech Multimedia announced they were working on new training content, specifically for Variable Speed Drives. Has development on this content continued? If so, when will it be released?
We’ve been working very hard to release VFDs and we hope to release it in the next couple of months. It will be divided up into 2 Learning Labs and 1 Simulation.

13. Can this troubleshooting software be loaded on to a VR headset?
We have not deployed into a VR headset, but it is something we are looking into for the future.

14. Is there administrative access for Instructional staff? So they have the ability to know what the end repair would be without having to go through the simulation themselves?
For our current 2D product, you’ll get access to our Course Manager, it allows you to monitor trainee progress, create Custom Tests, and access data and stats from anywhere. It’s available for free and you have as many administrators as you need.

15. Since I am in a college setting how many administrators can you have i.e. Instructors?
You can have as many as you need, we don’t charge licensing fees for administrators, only for users.

16. Does the software keep track of the time each student spends troubleshooting each module and an overall amount of time spent using the simulator?
Yes, we have a reporting module available for administrators that tracks the time per student, per module and overall.

17. What about distance learning, like the Covid-19 pandemic? Can students log on from home?
Yes, both systems (our current install version and upcoming browser version) allow you to log in from your computer anywhere, and keeps going from where your progress left off.

18. Do you include solid state relays and contactors in your simulations?
Yes we do!

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Learning to Troubleshoot Control Circuits in our Training System

Learning to Troubleshoot Control Circuits in our Training System

Learning to troubleshoot control circuits is the next step in our training system. It is hard to imagine any manufacturing facility without a significant presence of control circuits. This module is the first practical application of our learning and is broken down into two distinct modules, Learning Lab: Control Circuit Components, and Troubleshooting Control Circuits..

The first module, Learning Lab: Control Circuit Components, is the focus of this article and lays the foundations for learning how to troubleshoot control circuits.

How to Troubleshoot Control Circuits

One of the first things you will notice when you begin the module is the number of concepts covered, from learning to manually operate components, to understanding inputs and outputs, to login, and high resistance connections. Of course, if we are going to simulate real things happening in real life, then we must also include intermittent faults which tend to drive troubleshooters crazy and multiple component failures.

Troubleshoot Control Circuits

Not to worry, even though we cover a lot of topics, it is provided in a simple to understand manner and our interactive learning will have the learner breezing through the content. Increasing the complication of the circuits further entrenches the critical importance of following a systematic approach. The modules walk learners through the content with emphasis on our 5-step approach to troubleshooting from observation to testing.

One of the main learning outcomes in this module is the ability for a troubleshooter to expand their ability to read schematics and wiring diagrams, as well as understand ladder logic for control circuits. This helps them build the skills they need to troubleshoot complex processes.

The module also includes learning labs and guided faults that allow the user to test their skills and use their tools and multimeter to take measurements and diagnose problems.

Stay tuned for more looks at our next modules, where we show the new scenes used to learn how to troubleshoot control circuits in our Simulation module!

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Webinar Replay: Electrical Simulation Training

Webinar Replay: Electrical Simulation Training

Many companies are considering online and remote training for their maintenance staff. In this webinar, our CEO Samer Forzley explains in detail the importance of the skills gap, why learning and retention are important and also a sneak peek at our new 3D Simutech Training System!

Key Takeaways:

  1. Skills Gap it’s happening and you need to understand how you can bring the knowledge to your company
  2. A systematic approach is important and you have to be sure to have one.
  3. Create a training culture!
  4. Learning is not a one time deal, practice is the key to success

The full replay to the webinar is available below.

 

You can also access the slides here.

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The Costs And Benefits of Training Skilled Trade Workers: How To Measure Your ROI

The Costs And Benefits of Training Skilled Trade Workers: How To Measure Your ROI

Manufacturers are currently facing a big problem when it comes to training skilled trade workers: a shrinking talent pool. In the last ten years, U.S. talent shortage has tripled. And as time goes on, the demand for welders, electricians, machinists—you name it—will only increase.

Research from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute also shows that 4.6 million workers will be needed in the manufacturing sector by 2028, but that 2.4 million of those jobs could go unfilled if steps aren’t taken to ensure proper training.

So how can manufacturers adapt? The answer is simple: by developing training initiatives to secure future talent. In this post, we’ll cover the costs and benefits of training skilled training workers, and show you how to calculate the ROI of your training program.

training skilled trade workers

The benefits of continuous training

Training is a long-term investment in your team, enabling your employees to be as productive and efficient as possible. It has the added benefit of helping you recruit and retain your staff, because employees who are developing long-term career goals experience greater job satisfaction.

Give your current staff the specialized skills you need them to have…

Moreover, through training skilled trade workers, specific skills can be acquired by multiple employees, otherwise known as cross-training. This way, if one person leaves the company, another employee will have the necessary knowledge to fill the gap.

Think of cross-training as diversifying your investments, a safety net for your company’s overall efficiency. An employee competent in multiple roles is a more productive, satisfied, and valuable member of your company—one who will be more likely to stay on.

How To Measure The Success Of Training

Manufacturers who decide to invest time and money into training employees need to know if it’s working. Managers making the decision to train need to be able to see how the costs compare to the benefits, and they need a concrete way of measuring the success of training programs in order to know that they are valid business tools that justify their cost. Moreover, only by measuring the success of training programs can you improve them, so that they are as efficient and productive as possible.

There are two aspects of training that need to be measured. To begin with, it’s critical to measure the monetary success of training. When calculating forecasted costs, companies should take into account both direct costs (such as consultancy fees, hotels, meals, flights or gas, etc.) and indirect costs.

Indirect costs are costs that the company would have incurred anyway, even if the training hadn’t taken place, such as the salaries of in-house personnel that teach the program, and cost of physical in-house space set aside for the training. They are still costs related to the training.

Maybe more important are the effects of training on staff, since employees are themselves part of the long-term investment. How did they respond to training? Positively or negatively? How many long-term skills did they acquire? And most importantly, are they performing more efficiently? After training, are there fewer complaints, more sales, and more output? If so, then the training was successful!

ROI & Forecasting Costs And Benefits of Training

A more concrete way to measure the success of training is through your ROI or “return on investment” of training. Return on investment is defined as a measure of the monetary benefits obtained by an organization over a specified period of time for a given investment in a training program. Essentially, it’s the extent to which the benefits of training exceed the costs.

So how do you forecast your costs and benefits?

Forecasting And Measuring Costs

First, let’s consider the costs that will be associated with training skilled trade workers. These include:

Developmental and Promotional Costs: Developmental costs include how much it costs to design and develop your training program if you do it in-house, e.g., the costs of in-house program design, any necessary travel days, etc., or the costs of hiring outside trainers. Promotional costs include the cost of promoting the program to your employees, such as posters, brochures, etc.

Costs of Administering & Completing the Training: These costs include the time taken by the training department to administer and complete the program. These costs are typically measured by the hours of administration spent on each employee. They also include the cost of materials and resources needed to administer the program, materials such as books, manuals, etc. and resources such as training rooms, equipment used, etc.

Opportunity Cost of Training: This is perhaps the most significant cost to consider. While an employee is going through training, he or she is not adding to the company’s overall production, but is still being paid. These opportunity costs can be the most expensive aspect of training.

Measuring The Forecasted Benefits of Training Skilled Trade Workers

Next, forecast the benefits of training:

Labor Savings: Labor savings come into play when less effort is needed to achieve the current levels of output. Properly trained workers are more efficient. Savings are realized by reducing the labor applied to each job, not by utilizing more time to achieve further output.

Productivity increases: The flip side of labor savings is productivity increases. Trained employees can achieve additional output with the same level of effort. Examples include higher levels of skill leading to faster work or higher levels of motivation leading to increased effort.

Other income generation: In some jobs, it may be possible for new income to be generated as a direct result of training. This can be a productivity increase, but income generation can also be seen through other means, such as sales referrals made by non-sales staff or a new product idea leading to successful product launches.

Calculating Return On Investment

Once you know both your costs and your benefits, you can calculate your ROI—a compelling way to justify training to management. The formula is simple:

% ROI = (Total Benefits / Total Costs) x 100

Another way to calculate ROI is to calculate your payback period. A payback period is simply the length of time it will take before the benefits of training match the costs of training itself.

Payback period = Total Costs / Monthly Benefits

The payback period is a powerful measure. The lower the figure (e.g., the shorter the period), the more management will be encouraged to invest in training.

Making ROI Work For You

Managers often claim that their people are their greatest asset. Yet developing ‘human capital’ through training is still widely perceived as an expense and not an investment. It’s time to turn this notion around. Make ROI work for you: begin to analyze your training programs as if they were capital investments—using techniques like ROI—and change attitudes of those who claim that training is only an expense.

At Simutech, we’ve seen the benefits of skills training time and time again.

Simutech’s Training System is designed to help manufacturers weather the skilled electrical trade shortage by training staff in electrical troubleshooting skills in a safe, simulated environment, in a cost-effective way. Having trained staff on hand who can safely troubleshoot electrical problems radically cuts costly plant downtime. Factor that into your ROI and you’ll see that training is indeed an investment that pays off.

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Troubleshooting Thursdays: Adaptive Learning, Part 5: Gamification (Tip 105)

Troubleshooting Thursdays: Adaptive Learning, Part 5: Gamification (Tip 105)

A resource for safe and effective troubleshooting from the leaders in simulation training.

Hello, Troubleshooters! Welcome back once again to TST. 

We’re forging ahead with our series on adaptive learning (AL). If you find yourself with a little extra time on your hands these days, you can go back and check out earlier posts:

Part 1:     Adaptive Learning Overview

Part 2:     Personalized Learning 101

Part 3:     Why Adaptive Learning and Simulation are a Winning Combination

Part 4a:     The Future of Learning

Part 4b:     The Future of Learning, continued

Today we’re looking at adaptive gamification—a growing trend in optimizing adaptive learning that will soon be making its way into training programs everywhere, so that manufacturers can also get more bang for their training buck.

Adaptive Learning, Meet Gamification

In this series, we’ve been talking about computer-based adaptive learning, and how sophisticated algorithms can detect learners’ unique abilities and needs, and then serve them up content that suits them best. Maybe they’ll vary the delivery method (e.g., video, audio) or maybe they’ll change up the lesson plan so that learners can skip ahead if they’ve already mastered the material, or repeat a lesson if they struggled the first time.

In the past, we’ve also delved into the “gamification” of learning. It’s well known that using a game format is valuable for e-learning, because it increases user engagement. It’s fun, so people want to continue playing. This is increasingly critical in the realm of business training, since Millennials now make up over 35% of the US labor force. (A fun fact about Millennials is that they spend more on voluntary donations to game creators than on game subscriptions. That’s how much they love games!) Gen Z are pretty much born gaming. So, education and training are going to be more successful for these groups if games are involved.

There are now lots of “serious games” out there, designed to teach real-world skills. One example is Underground, a game designed to help surgical students practice removing a gallbladder arthroscopically. It’s set on a fictional planet where the object is to rescue cute little aliens from a deep pit. Using game controllers, players end up using the same hand movements required in the actual operation, thereby bonding the techniques into muscle memory.

Much research has been done on adaptive learning in serious games, meaning that the content of the game is being adapted to the learner’s abilities, usually by increasing or decreasing the difficulty level.  

But that is still adaptive learning, not adaptive gamification. If adaptive learning and gamification met, fell in love, and had a baby, that baby would be adaptive gamification.

Adaptive Gamification vs. Adaptive Learning

A little background. Gamification of e-learning programs means taking a learning program and adding the kind of fun features you typically find in video or computer games: leaderboards, stars, badges, chimes, words of encouragement, etc.; features that video games use to keep players engaged. The theory is that these features will help learners stay interested and motivated—Millennials and Gen Z, yes, but other generations, too. Everyone likes a little pat on the back, right?

Well, it turns out that not everyone likes the same kind of pat on the back. Some people thrive on competition and want to see their name at the top of the leaderboard, or at least above the name of the guy in the next cubicle. But others could care less, or are even intimidated by competition. Some people love to connect socially with peers, and some don’t. Some people love to achieve a goal, and others simply remain unmoved by that thought. 

Adaptive gamification refers to adapting these kinds of rewards and challenges, that is, the gaming features rather than the lesson content, to the user’s learning style and emotional type. First, the algorithms must discover which features actually motivate and engage a particular user, and then they must adapt the game elements to appeal to that learner. The theory is that the more engaged learners are, the longer they will spend learning, and the lower the drop-out rate will be.

Does Adaptive Gamification Work?

But does it work? Apparently so! E-learning platforms can experience a high drop-out rate, but one study in this area (Hassan et al. 2019) found that adaptive gamification based on learning styles increased motivation by 25% and reduced the drop-out ratio by 26%. 

Other researchers (Lavoué et al., 2018) conducted an intriguing study in which 266 participants answered an online questionnaire (“the BrainHex questionnaire”) to find out what kind of player personality they were. This simple questionnaire asks participants about their likes and dislikes related to computer games, and then groups participants into one (or a blend) of seven categories: Seeker, Survivor, Daredevil, Mastermind, Conqueror, Socializer, or Achiever. (You can try it yourself and discover your own learning style here.)

The researchers began with an existing, ungamified e-learning platform (Project Voltaire) that teaches French spelling and grammar. Due to the repetitive nature of memorizing involved, the platform designer admitted that many learners drop out early on. To this platform, the researchers added five gamification features: 

  1. Stars (which learners could earn for mastering a grammar rule)
  2. Leaderboards (showing a user’s near neighbors rather than overall best scorer, known as a “within-reach” goal)
  3. Tips (a social connection feature where learners could offer advice to help other users)
  4. Walking landscape (players could see a depiction of themselves hiking in mountains, each correct answer earning them a step on the path to a destination)
  5. Timers (which encourage learners to repeat an exercise in a faster time than a previous attempt)

Researchers then divided the participants into three groups. The first group learned on a platform with features adapted to their learning style. The second group learned with gaming features deliberately mismatched to their style. The third was a control group with no gaming features at all.

The results? Group 1 (matched features) had much more highly engaged users, who spent an average of about 42 minutes longer per week in the learning environment than the mismatched and control groups. They also had higher levels of motivation than the other two groups.

In case you’re interested, features 2 and 5 (leaderboard and timer) were the most effective in increasing user participation in the adapted group, and features 3 and 4 (tips and walking) increased motivation the most.

So there you go, Troubleshooters! Adaptive gamification is one more way to optimize learning and squeeze the most value out of your training budget. Tune in again next week for our last post in this series, on the top adaptive learning tech companies.

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