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LMS update connects apprentices with better learning

This is first iteration of a math lesson in BNAP’s LMS.

After two years of tweaking and revising, the updated Learning Management System for apprentices’ online training launched in January. Mark Wertz, Boilermaker National Apprenticeship Program coordinator, and Kathy McComb, BNAP’s technical assistant, updated the interface to appeal to a new generation of apprentices coming into the union. 

“Since its first iteration, technology has advanced so quickly it was time to give this a face lift,” McComb said. “We’ve designed the upgrades for younger generations and geared the whole design toward them.” 

In addition to an updated interface, LMS 2.0 also has updated materials and revised lessons. 

“Young people don’t want to see a whole page of words,” Wertz said. “They have different ways of taking in information. We’ve geared this update to how they’ll learn best.”

BNAP was also trying to solve the issue of apprentices rushing through their lessons instead of taking the time to comprehend the materials. 

“We’ve found that in the older version, apprentices weren’t spending as much time on lessons as they needed to,” Wertz said. “So now we’ve condensed it into a clean and organized fashion.” 

Before they embarked on updating the LMS, Wertz and McComb researched how Millennials and Gen Z best absorb information. “We’re hopeful and confident that the way the info is presented is beneficial and effective,” Wertz said. “Since there’s such a focus on remote learning now, we really wanted the LMS to be on point. Remote learning is going to be part of our lives for some time.” 

McComb said that a lot of the graphics were hard to comprehend and needed an update. “They were dark and sometimes illegible and completely unclear.” 

For example, in math lessons, the previous LMS used audio and intricate graphics to explain complex math concepts. The combo didn’t engage apprentices or increase their math comprehension. McComb said she revised the lessons for the math portions with better instructions and created new graphics. 

After the updates were complete, Mike Anthony, L-502 (Tacoma, Washington) and Collin Keisling, Western States Boilermaker Apprenticeship coordinator, reviewed them for clarity and accuracy. 

Before launching the new LMS in January, Wertz and McComb held online “train the trainer” sessions to get all the local trainers familiar with changes to the system. 

This is the first major overhaul of the LMS since its debut in 2012.