Nicholai Kristel instructs a potable water disinfection course 

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LIVE Online training meets demand for online education

ATAP Infrastructure Management, an Associated Engineering company, has recently completed the second delivery of the LIVE Online Level 1 Water and Wastewater Operator Prep training program, in collaboration with Northern Lakes College in Alberta. 

Water and wastewater systems management and stewardship is an important issue facing Canadian communities today. Every community is responsible for ensuring the continuous safe operation of its water and wastewater systems. However, owners of treatment facilities regularly report difficulty in attracting and retaining qualified operators, so the demand for a Level 1 Water and Wastewater Operator Prep program was clear. In particular, rural and remote communities are constantly searching for qualified individuals to fill the roles of water and wastewater treatment plant operators, water distribution system operators, and wastewater collection system operators. In Alberta, the issue is made more complex as the vast majority of operator training is available only within the Edmonton-Calgary corridor. The LIVE Online delivery model is crucial for meeting the need for operator training. 

Grant Dixon, Manager of ATAP in Edmonton, tells us, “Water and Wastewater Training is part of building capacity in smaller and remote communities. The men and women who take this training want to live and work in their community.” 

The LIVE Online delivery model uses an online classroom which participants can attend with a stable internet connection and a computer, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone. 

Teaching and learning online poses several challenges for the instructor and the participants. Most significantly, it can be difficult to engage participants and for participants to stay engaged throughout the class. The skill of the instructors, targeted curriculum design, and the online classroom functionality effectively meet the challenge of active engagement.

The online classroom is equipped with the presentation, a digital whiteboard and drawing tools, and screen-sharing capabilities. The instructor uses a headset and microphone to speak to the class, and participants interact with their instructor and peers using their microphones, the chat room functionality, and voting tools. Classes are short, and questions are encouraged, so that classes are more like discussions than lectures, creating more value for students. 

ATAP and Northern Lakes College combined their strengths in technical training, adult learning, and delivery of services for rural and remote areas to develop and deliver this much-needed program. Participants in the program have gained all the background knowledge they need to pass their certification exam, launch a new career, and meet the need in their communities for qualified stewards of water systems. 

The next Level 1 Water and Wastewater Operator Prep LIVE Online training is scheduled for Fall 2017. Curriculum development is complete for ATAP’s new Level 2 Water Operator Prep LIVE Online training program, and is currently scheduled to launch in Fall 2017. For more information, please contact Grant Dixon at 587.772.0637 or dixong@ae.ca.