Technical Training Case  Studies

#1 Helping a Textbook Publisher Clinch the Sale

The Problem:
Our client, a major textbook publisher, was trying to sell textbooks to a major for-profit chain of technical training schools, but the books didn’t fit the course outline for the 1200-hour training program.

The Solution:
We cross-walked the tech school’s course outline against the textbook content and were able to show our client and the tech school’s administrators how the books could be repackaged to support the school’s course structure. Because the material we develop for this publisher is organized into independent modules, this was not a major problem. To bridge the gap between the textbooks and the course syllabus we recommended, and subsequently developed, detailed session-by-session lesson plans supported by Power Point presentations. We also developed an instructor version of the Power Points, to guide the instructor. We further recommended the inclusion of training video segments in the Power Point slides, and subsequently produced these video segments, using SMEs to ensure technical accuracy. A great deal of the material we used in this solution was already available from other client sources, so it turned out to be a cost-effective, quick-turnaround solution.


#2 An Inexpensive CBT Approach

The Problem:
A large trade association wanted to adapt their primary technical training program for web-based delivery. This would allow experienced workers to prepare for certification testing without the expense of traveling to the corporate HQ training center. The student handbooks for the course contained hundreds of pages. Because of this large volume of material, the available budget would not support a traditional interactive CBT training approach.

The Solution:
Topaz devised an inexpensive approach that used slides to summarize the key points from the book, along with visuals from the book. Our web-based training materials included targeted links to the main body of the text so that the student always had ready access to the detailed content. We also included links to the glossary, table of contents, index, and other features. Finally, we added interactive testing, supported by remediation, as well as an audio track to aid aural learners.


#3 Bringing Inexperienced Workers Up To Speed in a Hurry

Due to restructuring, a major manufacturer was faced with the necessity of quickly training an inexperienced workforce in their replacement parts warehouse. There was no existing training program and the automated parts tracking process was not documented. They contracted with Topaz to develop a training program to bring the new people up to speed - fast. To deal with this situation, we placed two of our technical writers in their warehouse facility. Over a two-week period, these writers flow-charted the process from top to bottom, then developed step-by-step procedures for each part of the process. We used these materials to create student and instructor guides for an instructor-led classroom training program. We also created job performance aids for each work station to help workers once they completed their initial training.


#4 A Value-Added Training Program for Assembly Line Workers

A pharmaceuticals manufacturer purchased a new blister-pack machine to package cold capsules and the like. Their labor agreement required that they provide self-study training modules that would allow line workers to advance in pay grade by learning and demonstrating new skills. Entry-level workers would simply stand at the end of the line and place the finished packages in boxes as they rolled off the line. As they worked their way through the steps, they workers would eventually be able to partially disassemble the machine, clean it, and prepare it to package a different product.

The client had two critical requirements: limited budget and short turnaround. The so-called instruction manual was nothing more than a compilation of drawings and spec sheets, and most of that material was in German. Only one person in the plant knew the process from beginning to end, so one of our tech writers spent several days in the plant shadowing the expert and documenting each part of the process. We first planned to video-tape the expert as backup material for the writer, but realized that if we provided some structure to it, we could use the video to augment the training. Therefore, we developed a series of questions in advance of each session so the writer and expert could have a structured dialogue. As a result, we were able to provide the trainees with not only printed learning materials, but supporting video as well. Because the video needed only light editing, we were able to provide it at no additional cost.


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