Designing E-learning for Oil & Gas Industry Processes

Designing E-learning for Oil & Gas Industry Processes

The process involved in designing elearning for oil and gas industry processes can be challenge if you don’t know the right way to go about it to ensure that all learners reach their potential.

ADDIE (Analyze-Design-Develop-Implement-Evaluate) is a popular instructional design process and one that we have used as the underlying framework for our design/development. Let’s have a closer look at this process.

Analyse (Training Needs Assessment and Statement)

As with designing any kind of learning, it starts with identifying and stating the training need. Furthermore, it involves stating the learning goals and understanding the learners. So, what would the training need be for learning any oil and gas industry related process and who would be the learners? There could be a number of needs/category of learners ranging from the following and more:

  • Basic Process/Operations Awareness training for administrative staff to help them relate their office work to the field operations, which would, thereby facilitate effective communication and relationships between admin staff and field staff.
  • Basic Process/Operations Awareness training for front-line field workers to help them relate their specialised work to the overall process, which would, thereby improve coordination between work groups.
  • New equipment/new process training for Engineers to optimize productivity
  • Refresher Process training for Engineers to sustain productivity
  • Process Awareness training as a sub-part of safety-related training for field employees, aimed at avoiding accidents and injuries.
  • Equipment/Process demo videos for sales presentation to clients, developed to facilitate visual and 3D demonstration of complex equipment/processes and thereby gain sales.

Design

Let’s assume that we have to develop a ‘Gas Dehydration/Glycol Regeneration process’ learning module for the first category of need/learners:

  • Basic Process/Operations Awareness training for administrative staff to help them relate their office work to the field operations, which would, thereby facilitate effective communication and relationships between admin staff and field staff.

Design involves the following:

  • Developing learning objectives – Write statements like ‘Learners will be able to explain the entire process to a field engineer using a available miniature model.’
  • Designing assessments – A combination of online and classroom assessments can be made. For example, after each online module, there would be multiple type of assessments like True/False statements, drag and drop process sequence steps, click and identify name of equipment e.g Contactor etc. The classroom assessment would involve a learner to explain the process within a guided uniform structure of instructions. For example, identify the entry point of the wet gas into the Contactor and describe its flow through and out of the Contactor, using the the miniature model.The assessment would be done by a field engineer based on assessment guidelines. For example, Participant demonstrated functional knowledge of step 1 of the process – Yes/No

And that brings us to the Subject Matter Expert (SME). And who is a Subject Matter Expert? Basically , in any technical training/learning, a person or group of persons are identified as the authority on specific functional areas and are designated as the contact point for finalizing all learning objectives, learning assessment and learning content.

The subject matter expert plays a key role in both the above mentioned design steps. He supplies the technical content, in either a raw form or developed form.The instructional designer has to work closely with the subject matter expert on both the steps and have a sign-off before he can proceed to the next step.

Designing the learning flow and learning strategies

This is where the instructional designer’s skill comes in. And following a series of steps makes the task easier.

First, thoroughly understand the technical process from start to finish. A good starting point is the technical material provided to you by the SME and any past training material on the subject from the company.And then you can build on the knowledge by accessing books from the library and of course, related info on google. A caution here, books should be your main information source since books are generally based on sound research and are peer-reviewed unlike most content on google.

Next, keep in focus the identified learning objectives and assessments, and use them as a compass.

Now, you need to break down the process and provide a structure so that it can be easily understood/learned. A process may be one-way, two-way or multi-way. For example, treated water being pumped from the reservoir to your house is a one-way process.

In a gas plant, Gas Dehydration/Glycol Regeneration is a two-way process where the wet gas enters the process from one inlet – and exits the process through another outlet as dry gas and the process, by itself, is called Gas Dehydration. Simultaneously, another process is at work, in which, lean(water-free) glycol is pumped in through another inlet and exits the process as rich(water absorbed) glycol, which is recycled again.This second process, by itself, is called Glycol Regeneration. Similarly, the process may be multi-way such as in a automated car assembly plant.

For our case study, let’s assume that our learning content is the Gas Dehydration/Glycol Regeneration process in a gas plant.

Let’s look at the process diagram:

Designing E-learning for Oil & Gas Industry Processes - Flow Diagram

Flow Diagram

 

Now, let’s go back to our task where you need to break down the process and provide a structure so that it can be easily understood/learned.

Let’s start by breaking down the above diagram into two processes.

The first process starts at the ‘Wet Gas Inlet’ and ends after exiting the ‘Scrubber’ as ‘Dehydrated gas’. The second process starts with lean glycol being pumped out of the ‘Surge tank’ and ends with the recycled glycol flowing back into the ‘Surge tank’ and this second process cycle keeps repeating.

Now use the basic instructional approach of progressing learning units from simple concepts to complex concepts. Applying this principle to our process, in the first module, layout and explain only the first process by itself. This would involve an interplay of text, images, audio and most important – a 3D rendition of the process ( we will talk more about this aspect in the ‘Develop’ stage). At the end of the module, set up a assessment to test understanding and knowledge of this process.

In fact, your image for this module would only reflect the first process as follows:

Designing E-learning for Oil & Gas Industry Processes - Flow Diagram

Flow Diagram

In the second module, layout and explain the second process by itself. This would again involve an interplay of text, images, audio and most important – a 3D rendition of the process. At the end of the module, set up a assessment to test understanding and knowledge of this process.

In fact, your image for this module would only reflect the second process.

In the third module, layout and explain the interplay of the above two processes. This would again involve a mix of text, images, audio and most important – a 3D rendition of the process . At the end of the module, set up a assessment to test understanding and knowledge of the process interplay.

Now, your image for this module would be the entire process as shown in the first image.

Now if you step back and review, the learning structure and flow should be such that the target learner would be able to easily understand the entire process and able to explain it too, besides meeting the expected test assessment scores.

Develop

This stage involves 3 basic tasks – Course building, Graphic Design and 3D Animation

Course Building: involves putting the designed learning structure, flow and content in a deliverable format. For example, a course building tool like Articulate Storyline can be used to produce the following:

  • Course Title
  • Learning Objectives
  • Module 1 with assessment
  • Module 2 with assessment
  • Module 3 with assessment
  • Final Assessment for Certification
  • Publishing the course on the company’s Learning Management System (LMS)

Graphic Design: The best instruction designed learning module can look mediocre and unprofessional, if it lacks good graphic design contribution.

3D Animation: As mentioned above, the learning content would need to be supported by 3D animation of the process as required by each module. Now, it can’t be emphasized enough that for any technical training, quality 3D animation is the learning lynchpin.

Implement

Now that the learning modules are ready, they can be deployed by hosting them on the company’s learning management system (LMS), which helps track learner participation, progress, and achievement, and importantly, feedback from learners.

Evaluate

Now that you have the learning results and the feedback from learners, you know what is working and what is not. Accordingly, needed changes can be done in the design and/or development stages of the module and the implement-evaluate process re-cycled. At set intervals, the training need itself needs to be re-evaluated and acted upon.

Summing up, designing elearning for oil and gas industry processes requires good instructional design fundamentals (ADDIE), a good course building tool, good graphic design and 3D animation capability. However, it is essential that one invests sufficient time in understanding the technical process and the scientific principles at play (like pressure, gravity, controls , and basic physics and chemical principles relevant to the learning content). Because only then, will you be able to break down complex processes into manageable learning units. And the good news is that the same design/development process can be applied to any form of technical training and in any industry.

Photo credit: Gas Processing

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