The pool and spa industry has been slow to embrace online learning. However, an increasing number of professionals are recognizing the value it brings to the table, or in this case, to the computer. In an increasingly busy world, time is of the essence. Many industry professionals know they need the training and will benefit from it; however, finding the time to complete the programs is another thing. Other issues may also come into play, such as the cost of the training and where the classes are taking place, but the most valuable commodity is time—especially in a time-sensitive seasonal business such as the pool and spa/hot tub industry. This is perhaps, the single most important determining factor that influences whether someone will or will not enroll in an educational program.
There is an option
The good news is, in 2018, pool and spa/hot tub professionals now have options, and self-paced online learning has become an attractive proposition. Online courses allow industry members to further their education whether in the office, at home, or even in the airport.
There are many reasons why industry professionals should consider more training to obtain additional credentials—the most important being that it is good for business. In one consumer survey, the number one quality homeowners said they looked for in a service provider is training and qualifications. Homeowners want and need the assurance their valuable investment (i.e. swimming pool), is being looked after properly. Educational outlets continuously expand as people try to become more professional, employable, and prepare themselves to prosper. Education is the key ingredient to success. Successful public pool operators, residential service companies, retailers, and builders create value for their customers by bringing them a healthier and safer water environment. Further, particular credentials can also be the differentiating factor consumers look for when making hiring decisions.
The expansion of online education has brought convenient training to the masses. As younger professionals enter the field and older professionals adopt computers into their lives, the pool and spa/hot tub industry becomes more computer savvy. Several innovative online delivery methods are beginning to make training more accessible. In the last decade, many courses and curricula have been delivered on the Internet and the beauty of it is the trainee is in control.
Engaging educational offerings
To ensure the efficiency of online learning, attention must be paid towards engaging students. The term ‘efficiency’ is appropriate here because the goal is to learn more in the shortest amount of time. Online learning provides a simple structure and enhanced features, which makes this method of education more effective and attractive to the students. The use of various features such as interactive exercises, narration, video demonstrations, quizzes, and images are becoming more common.
Consequently, online students typically learn faster and retain information for a longer period of time than they would in a traditional classroom setting.
In fact, online training may be the answer for business owners, managers, and/or supervisors who are looking for convenient and inexpensive ways to become educated. Substituting instructor-led courses for online training results in a decrease in the amount of time students spend learning, not to mention greater flexibility. Of course, the time to complete an online training program will vary depending on the course and the amount of material included.
Typically, an online course will take 40 to 50 percent less time than an instructor-led course on the same subject. Thus, five days of classroom training can be reduced to two days online.
A new wave of education is materializing
As a result of the many benefits, online learning has to offer, this training platform is emerging in many ways. There is a spectrum of courses available today covering facility management, pool operations and service, and workplace safety training. The added bonus of online courses is they afford the student the ability to go back and review course content repeatedly to enhance retention of the information.
Thanks to advancements in technology and course delivery methods, other online learning tools have emerged. Informal seminars are becoming more readily available. For example, webinars are becoming more popular to obtain short, topic-specific training. Live-streaming is also becoming more mainstream, allowing educators to broadcast training sessions around the world. Such advances bring the most cutting-edge information immediately to the pool and spa trade, reducing the need for industry professionals to have to travel to acquire knowledge.
Although e-learning opportunities have many benefits, it will not replace all instructor-led education and training programs. The use of technology for learning is becoming ubiquitous. People no longer see it as separate from traditional learning. Online education is most ideal when combined with instructor interactions to create a blended learning program. The online training allows busy professionals to set their own pace, while the instructor time allows the student to reinforce what he/she has learned, have questions answered, and participate in hands-on skills training. This method of training and education can also be a powerful tool for managers, company owners, trainers, instructional designers, and others to impact skills and performance. That said, good teachers should help create context and interact with students to customize the learning environment.
The potential for e-learning is huge
In the last 10 years, aquatic organizations have been realizing the power of incorporating online learning for their employees. The days of trying to find a day and time when all staff members are available to attend an in-person session are gone. Now, organizations just have to give workers access to courses online. Today, the only obstacle remains to be how eager one is for more education. Industry professionals need to continue to differentiate themselves from their competition and furthering one’s education and training is one way to do this. It can be the difference maker needed to grow a business.
This article was written by Alex Antoniou and originally appeared on Pool & Spa Marketing [link].