BNAP builds cutting-edge training program

BNAP staff members work on story-boarding a video segment of the BNAP Online Interactive Training System. L. to r., trainer Dave Vallacqua, lead instructor John Standish, BNAP National Coordinator Marty Spencer (standing), trainer Terry Collins, and trainer Mark Branscum.

Internet-based instruction offers big advantages

BOILERMAKER APPRENTICES will soon gain a whole new training experience through an Internet-based program called the BNAP Online Interactive Training System. The system is under development by the Boilermakers National Apprenticeship Program (BNAP) in conjunction with the Construction Sector Operations Division and the Kelly Learning Group. It will include an updated and standardized version of BNAP’s core curriculum.

The BNAP Online Interactive Training System is nothing short of revolutionary, says BNAP National Coordinator Marty Spencer. “We are about to embark on an adventure into a whole new approach to classroom training. This is cutting-edge, Internet-based technology. It will make students want to learn and see what comes next instead of being forced to learn.”

Spencer says the system is interactive, so apprentices will be able to view and respond to situations presented in video and other formats. The system will allow for self-paced as well as trainer-led instruction. Both methods will use the same material, but the system will offer options as to how the classroom lessons will be presented.

“The analysis has been completed and the decision has been made to leap into the future.”

— Marty Spencer, BNAP NTC

“‘Seat time’ is built right in by implementing interactive exercises, required reading, and required viewing,” says Spencer. “Local lodges with huge geographic work jurisdictions can opt for the student-driven method; locals that are more geographically concentrated may choose to implement the instructor-guided version, the student-driven method, or both. Another benefit with this on-line version is that it allows traveling apprentices an opportunity to complete their classroom lessons while working on the road.”

Individual unit testing will be done online for both the classroom lessons and the Related Studies Lessons. To submit a completed test, an apprentice will simply hit the program’s “send” button. Tests will be received and graded automatically. To protect the integrity of the testing process, apprentices will be required to take periodic performance-based tests at the training center in front of an instructor.

In addition to the new online system for classroom training, all 48 Related Studies Independent Lessons are being updated to reflect industry changes and advancements, according to Spencer. He says first-year classroom lessons will be ready to roll out this summer.

The BNAP Board of Trustees has sanctioned the development of an additional module that will define expectations and set the tone for the entire program.

An initial train-the-trainer session is planned for May of this year. Classroom instructors planning to teach the new curriculum must complete the trainer course. Instructors will be re-trained every other year.

Spencer credited IP Newton B. Jones for spearheading the new training approach. “He felt it was time to examine the way construction Boilermaker apprentices are being trained and how their learning is evaluated. The analysis has been completed and the decision has been made to leap into the future.”