Virtual Training Key to CDM’s Continuing Education
by Mary Leslie, MS, Director of Training & Program Development, CDMU and Tracy Stewart Terry, MS, Manager of Learning Programs, CDMU
Virtual training is integral to CDM’s continuing education program, one the Cambridge, Mass. consulting, engineering, construction and operations firm has supported through an internationally accredited corporate university (CDMU) since 1996. Through the use of virtual technology the firm maintains high standards of quality, meets the needs of a diverse organization, and delivers training in a sustainable manner.
As CDMU’s continuing education program was evolving, it was clear that to sustain its effectiveness long-term, virtual training would play a prominent role. For one, an increasing number of states were requiring continuous education hours each year. Thirty-four states today have requirements, and two—New York and Florida—require the training provider to be certified. Also, to train such a large, diverse work force (more than 4,000 employees in over 100 offices worldwide), it is cost-prohibitive for instructors to travel to so many locations and train small groups, just as it is for large numbers of employees all to travel to a central location.
Beginning with one of the firm’s core courses—Reframing Conflict—CDMU launched the first class using a virtual classroom in 2002, and has since extended it to include other high-profile training areas such as the firm’s project management (PM) courses, technical topics, and business/life skills. PM training is delivered live and virtually, by an instructor who is an experienced PM; it is supported by a producer who helps manage the virtual classroom so the instructor can focus on content. Technical and business skills topics are also delivered in a variety of e-leaning methods: via webinar for knowledge transfer; virtual classroom, which can include discussion with technical experts; and online, self-paced to be taken at the convenience of the learner 24/7. As technology continues to evolve, CDM will increase the interactivity and effectiveness of virtual training and apply the approach to more challenging engineering and management topics that previously have been taught only in a classroom.
“Our ability to continuously meet training requirements and enhance our engineers’ knowledge and practices with state-of-the-art learning technology enables CDM to maintain quality work and a focused, capable work force,” says Mary Leslie, senior vice-president and director of CDMU. “We are able to deliver training to all of our employees and engineers in a sustainable, cost-effective manner in part due to the virtual character of our programs.”
Virtual training has provided many additional benefits. For one, it allows students access from all locations and time zones. Also, CDM can modify, upgrade and enhance training as technology allows, including tracking progress through its Learning Management System. Another benefit is that it makes it as easy as possible for CDM to help engineers receive credit for client and state regulations. In addition, transcripts are easily accessible, facilitating P.E. license renewals. Further, it supports client training projects of all sizes and types.
Most important, though, is that along with these many benefits virtual training achieves what any good delivery method should: It is effective and improves performance.