Over the years, the JATC has been recognized for its outstanding commitment to providing the very best training programs to our region’s electricians. In keeping with that commitment, nine months ago the Joint Apprenticeship & Training Program (JATC) launched a blended learning program. The internet-based instruction allows apprentices and instructors to redefine how the principles and practices of electrical construction.
This new style of teaching is literally a “blend” of distance learning and actual in-person class time with instructors. This approach allows both apprentices and seasoned electricians upgrading their skill sets to read textbooks, study diagrams and other visual aids at their own pace, and more importantly, gives instructors a detailed look at how their students are doing in real time.
While the JATC still uses textbooks, Ralph Neidert, assistant director of the JATC, can see a point in the future when textbooks will no longer be needed due to the great success of the blended learning format.
“I think it’s going very well,” said Neidert. “This generation of learners seems to grasp the concept of doing all of their work and reading online.”
The apprenticeship’s curriculum now contains simulations as part of the apprentice’s homework thanks to the addition of internet-based learning. The animations allow students an in-depth look at the subjects they are studying, rather than just a paragraph in a book.
“The biggest advantage is being able to view the homework assignments prior to them coming back to class and knowing what problem areas we need to review before we move on to new material,” explained Neidert.
In a two-week period apprentices will complete about six homework lessons, and with about 150-200 apprentices at any given time this gives the JATC a lot of data to use. This data allows instructors to customize lessons to make sure apprentices are grasping subject matter and identify the specific areas where they have trouble. In the long-run this enables apprentices to spend more time in the field, gaining valuable and practical experience.
The new program also gives instructors more time for hands-on learning and activities in the classroom, because they are spending less time reviewing work and giving general reviews of topics, something that the online program can now handle.
Another important benefit to point out is that this technology focused learning approach is getting apprentices ready for the technology they will face once they step into the field.
“Being apple to use a smartphone or tablet or an iPad, that’s a requirement in the field today for supervision,” said Neidert. “Everybody’s got instant communication, and this takes our apprentices to that level.”
Learn more about the training the Electrical Alliance’s journeyman electricians receive at the JATC at www.getchargedup.org.