Getting Hands-On with Elearning: Instructor Perspectives

Posted By: Therese Schustrich, Account Executive Workforce Education, Tooling U-SME on October 01, 2018

Getting Hands-On With Elearning:  Instructor Perspectives

For years, instructors in manufacturing have been teaching students with the traditional method of classroom instruction followed by hands-on training in the lab. It’s no secret that they prefer the hands-on portion of that training but know that the theory is mandatory.

More and more instructors are turning to elearning to give them more time in the lab while still providing a comprehensive curriculum for their students. To get a sense of what instructors are doing to keep students integrated and engaged with elearning, Tooling U-SME interviewed several manufacturing educators on why and how elearning has benefited their students, their program and their communities:

What compelled you to integrate elearning into the classroom?

Less administrative time – Curricula, exams and grading papers are part of the online program, making it easier for instructors to design their program syllabi and have more time in the lab

Competency-based – Elearning classes support project-based instruction, requiring compentency standards prior to passing a course. It’s no longer just a grade; students become more engaged and are better prepared for the outside world

Industry collaborative – 100 percent of the Tooling U-SME curriculum is industry-driven, resulting in 98 to 100 percent student job placement upon completion

Real Time – “ There is a brand new ‘textbook’ with updates every time you open it.” Bret Holmes, machinist instructor, Ogden-Weber Technical College, Salt Lake City, Utah

Online Technology – “We keep textbooks for reference which the students use, but online technology better serves the modern student. It’s what they understand.” Wes Chambers – Bridgerland Applied Technology College, Logan UT

Accommodates various learning styles – Elearning provides students with the flexibility to work at their own pace in their own location, and review materials with visual aids 24/7.

Alignment with National Certifications – many elearning programs, such as Tooling U-SME, map to industry standards aligning with national certifications such as NIMS, MSSC, Siemens, SME, AWS, etc.

Open Quote  When students see all of the classes available, they sometimes want one that’s not part of the curriculum, like robotics. I tell them if they complete their online tasks and still have time, I’ll give them another one just for fun. They love it! Makes them eager to learn,”

Kevin Finan, Atlantic Technical College, and Coconut Creek, Fla.

How do you keep students engaged in the online program?

“We do project-based learning so the curriculum is connected with each project.” Troy Spear, Theodore Roosevelt High School, Kent, Ohio

“The elearning curriculum can be divided into customized sections and we require students to finish the online portion before they get to the ‘fun part’ – hands-on in the lab.” Wes Chambers, Bridgerland Applied Technology College in Logan, Utah

“Students today want a roadmap that tells them exactly what to do. With elearning, the syllabus is easily developed and we have found that students follow directions 99 percent of the time.” Bret Holmes, Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College – Salt Lake City, Utah

What is the balance between classroom and hands-on instruction with elearning?

Every one of our instructors said that the balance shifted significantly with the integration of elearning:

Before Elearning - With Elearning Integration Infographic

Any advice for other instructors considering elearning?

“Set expectations up front with a class. Explain to students that the online portion is part of the learning process and tell them why. Make it the norm instead of them thinking that it’s just extra work to fill a space.” Kevin Finan, Atlantic Technical College, Coconut Creek, Fla.

“Get rid of your fears. Jump in – the water’s fine! Today’s students already understand online technology.” Wes Chambers, Bridgerland Applied Technology College, Logan, Utah

“We are all still learning and have to continue to keep up with the technology. Elearning puts confusion to rest.” Ted Post, Confederation College, Ontario, Canada

Please feel free to connect with some of our instructors by viewing the Tooling U-SME webinar, Optimizing your Manufacturing Hands-On Training with Elearning:

To learn more about Tooling U-SME’s online program please contact us at

Tags: Elearning, flexibility, hands-on., "integrate elearning into the classroom", "more time in the lab", "national certifications", "project-based learning", "students engaged", "students with disabilities", textbooks, webinar, "writing curriculum"