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March 17-20, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors—National Association (PHCC) Educational Foundation's popular Essentials of Project Management boot camp signed in knowing that they would be spending 45 hours in front of their screen over the next four days. Even after a year of the pandemic and the "Zoom Fatigue" that it has created, by the end of the program many were asking for opportunities to get more time and continue their learning.
The sold out four-day class included over 32 hours of online instruction, plus several hours of online small group work in the evenings. The key to the program's success is a successful partnership with A. O. Smith University (AOSU) and the special teaching approach taken by the class instructor, Purdue University Professor Emeritus Kirk Alter.
Alter led the program over Zoom from the AOSU training center and video studios located in Ashland City, Tennessee. Alter's teaching style is highly energetic and interactive, featuring constant dialogue and role-playing exercises with the attendees. The AOSU studio allowed him to move as he would in a physical classroom, teaching from slides or hitting the whiteboard to show the attendees how the numbers add up. All the while, staff in a control room switch the Zoom broadcast view from camera to camera in the studio, allowing the attendees to follow the instructor. The attendees were required to keep their video on throughout the program, allowing a monitor in the studio to display a gallery view to Alter, facilitating "face-to-face" conversations.
After completing a full eight-hour day of training, attendees were tasked with completing intense project assignments in the evenings. They were additionally responsible for coordinating how they would conduct these meetings with their group members who were spread across the country. For many, it was the first time they had needed to create work product and develop a presentation with an entirely remote-based team.
Offering the class online eliminated travel and hotel expenses, reducing the costs for attendees. While A. O. Smith University supported the program through use of their studio, A. O. Smith and Kohler Company also generously sponsored class, further reducing the registration fee for attendees. "Our relationship with the PHCC Educational Foundation is one that we hold in very high regard," said Jason Leonard, marketing technology and training manager at A. O. Smith. "We are honored to support their educational mission anywhere we can."
The Foundation will be conducting online foremen training this summer from A. O. Smith University, also sponsored by A. O. Smith and Kohler Company. Visit https://phccfoundation.org/essentials for more information and to register. The class size is limited, so early registration is strongly encouraged.