xAPI for Utilities


Invigilated ELearning using TinCan

ScottishPower, one of the UK’s leading energy suppliers, selected Enterprise Study’s web-based Training Administration System (TAS) and Learning Management System (LMS) to drive efficiency and deliver real cost benefits within its commercial training team.


Overview

ScottishPower is continually looking for ways to make it easier for key business partners to support its business. This includes providing training and certifying the many thousands of contractors that it uses to help maintain and develop the electricity energy supply network for its customers. They regard excellent training as the key to preventing the skills shortage in the UK from impacting upon their operations; this required a modern training administration system to support the expanding business partner training programme.

In the summer of 2015 ScottishPower started to deliver a ground breaking project, 12 months in the making, to use technology in learning with the objective of ensuring that its workforce (and its contractors) were compliant in the complicated and potentially hazardous work undertaken on the electricity infrastructure.

The places of work range from oil rigs to sophisticated electricity distribution equipment, where hands on high level technical skills are required to fix problems, replace equipment and components in a safe manner with a very high emphasis on “right first time fixes”.

ScottishPower sought to develop its technical skills base and ensure that levels of competency and safe working practise are evidenced and maintained in its workforce by using e-learning.

Project History and timeline

ScottishPower Learning and Development (SPL&D) are forward looking in their aims to deliver excellent quality value for money training to staff and contractors.

Within L&D, a small, capable and enthusiastic team build courses in-house, using a variety of technologies, including Articulate. However, until recently, eLearning courses were treated as a standalone facility, even though the advantages of integrating eLearning with training administration have been recognized for some time.

What was the scope for this project?

The level of compliance required by SP and its regulatory authorities was going to require a type of e-learning beyond the standard simple sheep-dip approach. The learning outcome must be evidenced by invigilated and assessed understanding, it must ensure direct linkages in learning to actual behaviours, skills and competences and this evidence of understanding must be exhibited across the whole topic curriculum, not just at the pass or fail testing stage.

Authorisations/compliances are awarded on the basis of auditable training results, and are necessary before certain types of electrical and plant work can be carried out.

Elearning has been adopted as a key training method for many years, it was however the team at Enterprise Study who took the requirements of ScottishPower and recommend using the Tin Can (or the xAPI to give it the correct name) protocol as a solution. They understood that TIN CAN could bring greater advantages to their business than the more traditional SCORM platform. It would be able to offer levels of learning achievement reporting detail or granularity that is not possible using SCORM.

A business requirements exercise was completed. ScottishPower and Enterprise Study worked cooperatively to shape a leading edge project from which they could both achieve benefits.

Utilising Tin Can, and xAPI enabled LMS delivered by Enterprise Study and content written by ScottishPower, marks what was the first successful completion of such a project in the UK. Indeed, in this regulated environment ScottishPower had to ask the industry regulator if using e-learning to do this would be acceptable!

This was not a project about using games or mobile learning to exploit the flexibility of the xAPI this was about enhancing the e-learning experience and evidencing the results through the LMS.

Security and control is exercised by use of PINs issued to delegates and the invigilator..


Achievements

This project was about ensuring that the e-learning provided and the learner’s interactions at a granular level were recorded.

The modules were built in Articulate and can be best viewed as having multiple pass points in each module. Each individual pass point was therefore evidencing learning and being reported back to the LRS, while the learning experience for the learner remained smooth and coherent.

The individual pass points embedded in each module were sent using the xAPI call to the LRS/LMS architecture where they were recorded and detailed reports can be produced evidencing the required levels of learning being achieved.

What are the benefits?

The seamless integration of SPTS, the ES TIN CAN eLearning module and in-house Articulate course content has streamline administration, saving time and effort The more courses that can be conducted using the new facility, the greater the benefit.

TIN CAN technology is able to receive more information about a delegate’s performance during the course and the assessment. This information will be included in SPTS reports, and will be used to improve (a) the ongoing management of courses (b) the support and feedback that can be given to trainees.

Colin Cruickshank, Scottish Power:


"This project has taken compliance led e-learning forward, by recognising the learner is key to achieving real results.

It is to be hoped that the sheep dip approach to compliance will be increasingly replaced by this new modality (multiple pass points per module) that puts acquiring dynamically evidenced competencies at the core of an e-learning course, not just the test at the end."


What's next?

There are already plans to extend the use of TIN CAN eLearning to non-invigilated courses, which can be taken in ScottishPower premises and over the internet. This too is expected to save ScottishPower time and effort, for example in the conduct of basic induction and orientation at sites. It is expected there will be increasing demand from all the ScottishPower businesses to use this eLearning facility as the word spreads.