Breaking News! The price of oil has been down for the past year or so, and economists can’t predict when it will come back up.

Actually (and unfortunately), that’s not news at all. While everybody likes a low price at the pump, those of us in oil and gas know only too well how important robust oil prices are to the health of our industry. Low cost per barrel means high anxiety for everyone, from the boardroom to the oil patch.

If you work in oil and gas, you’ve probably seen the effects of low oil prices in your own workplace. Companies are shutting down operations, restructuring, and downsizing. When resources are cut, you need to identify your A-Team, and they need to be on top of their game.

How can you ensure your A-Team is prepared to help guide your company through these anxious times? The answer, as almost always, is training and communication. But when downsizing occurs, training is often one of the first line items to cut. How do you keep your A-Team up to speed?

Training on a budget: ILT vs. WBT

The ROI for eLearning always adds up, and since budgets are low, many turn to self-paced learning as a lower cost solution. Let’s look at an example. Say you have to train 200 employees on a new, streamlined process. Creating an Instructor-Led Training (ILT) course is relatively easy, but what about the cost? Development time, material printing, travel time and cost, lodging, four days time off work for each employee, instructor time and cost. All of these add up – to the tune of about $200,000!

eLearning, on the other hand, may not be your first choice, but it is worth investigating. The development time is maybe about the same, but there is no travel time, no lodging, no instructor. The time off work is a lot less (4-5 hours). How does $50,000 sound compared to $200,000? Your boss will like it much better.

But, you might ask, what about the personal engagement, questions, and hands on exercises that you get in ILT? Is WBT as effective as ILT? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” There is a lot we can do to address these concerns. One of the best ways is to encourage interaction and informal learning among learners after completing WBT. Here are a few ideas:

  • Use wikis, blogs, or even Twitter (perhaps with a unique hashtag) to build virtual communities of practice. Communities of practice allow learners to reflect on what they’ve learned, ask each other questions, and work collaboratively on projects related to what they’ve learned.
  • Develop an “Ask the Expert” forum (perhaps a Sharepoint site) in which learners and other team members can ask questions on particular topics.
  • Include post-training activities (such as games or competitions) that allow learners to engage with each other.

For more ideas, see our article on informal learning in the workplace.

What about updates?

It’s no secret that content needs updating from time to time. If your content is in WBT, how can update it? Do you need to be a programmer? Luckily for most of us, the answer to that is “no.” It all depends on the development tool you choose. When you use a rapid authoring tool (such as Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate), changing content is much easier than when you use Flash.

And for mobile learning, HTML5 is quickly becoming the way to go. HTML5 is an open technology for developing engaging content that can be deployed across a wide spectrum of devices. There are several HTML5 tool options available: Adobe CaptivateArticulate StorylineClarogomo learning, and our very own Obsidian Black. Obsidian Black generates native, responsive HTML5 content for complete platform compatibility, with no need to install extra software for delivery. And it’s the only cloud-based authoring tool that lets you sync audio with text, images, and animations.

Questions? We have answers!

Obsidian Learning can help with your training and communication efforts. We know your learners, and we know O&G. Since 1998, we have successfully developed training programs on everything from E&P to HSE to compliance, from highly technical subject matter to soft skills.

And we can develop engaging learning for almost any budget – from rapid development tools and methods to the latest, most complex technologies. With Obsidian, you’ll get the most bang for your buck. We can help you analyze your audience and your needs, and we will recommend the learning and/or communication strategies that will fill your performance gaps without a big hit on your budget.

Sound interesting? We’d love to talk to you. Please call us at 713-426-5656, or send us a message.

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