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Paper: CHANGING THE WAY WE LEARN: From Classroom to Tablet?

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We are all aware of the skills shortage in the oil and gas industry, and the ageing profile of the workforce is well-documented. These issues are not easy to resolve: they are urgent, complex, and critical. One way to help solve these problems is to rapidly educate and train a new workforce, but it is acknowledged that education and training will only partly prepare engineers for industry: experience and mentoring are both essential and irreplaceable.

Universities, technical schools, and training providers can all offer some level of learning, but most of this learning is ‘classroom-based’, which immediately limits availability and accessibility. The obvious solution is to provide some of this learning via the internet. Today’s (and tomorrow’s) workforce have and use their smartphones and tablets ‘24/7’, and base many parts of their lives on these tools. So… why not ‘e-learning’?

‘E-learning’, means learning using electronic devices, usually via the internet. It has been previously called ‘distance learning’, ‘internet-based learning’, etc., and historically it has not been popular; for example ‘computers cannot do everything’. But times have changed – witness the number of people reading e-books on an airplane or reading newspapers on-line. Who would have predicted that paper books and paper newspapers would be slowly disappearing?

This article explains how e-learning has been introduced into the pipeline industry, and how partnerships with academia can help this introduction. It also explains some of the problems that need to be overcome to ensure ‘distance learning’ works well, and the science behind the solutions. The article describes an MSc program in pipeline engineering in the UK, delivered by e-learning and the internet. Finally, the ‘pros and cons’ of e-learning are presented, and some important lessons learnt.

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About PHL

PHL is an engineering consultancy company, based in the UK. We offer consultancy in pipeline engineering, and present training courses and education programmes in pipeline engineering and management. We specialise in pipeline integrity consultancy (including defect assessment, risk management, and failure analysis), and in pipeline engineering training (onshore pipeline engineering, and pipeline integrity engineering). We also offer a wide range of coaching and mentoring services to staff on all levels.

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