In the April 2020 issue of T&D World Magazine, MidAmerican Energy Company’s Mike Hoff details how the forward-thinking utility partnered with Index AR Solutions to re-imagine their natural gas apprenticeship program. Using a blend of augmented reality and eBooks created by Index, MidAmerican has successfully implemented a digital curriculum for its gas technician apprentices.
Hoff is Director of Business Optimization and Innovation at MidAmerican, which is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy. MidAmerican serves some 771,000 natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota and Nebraska.
In the article, entitled “Utility Dives Into AR to Train Apprentices,” Hoff explains how MidAmerican sought to combine its two primary time-based gas apprenticeship programs into one competency-based hybrid program for gas technicians.
The article notes that with apprentices needing to retain more information in a shorter period of time, the engagement of the training material becomes critically important. Working closely with MidAmerican trainers during the project, Index was able pair AR and eBook learning tools to create a highly experiential learning platform with rich visual, auditory and tactile elements.
By pairing them together, MidAmerican has put a complete curriculum into the palm of every apprentice’s hand via a tablet.
Hoff also describes the important role of video in the eBooks, which increase knowledge retention and align the instructional approach with how many people learn do-it-yourself type skills. Safety warnings and human performance tools are also emphasized in the AR applications and eBooks to keep safety top of mind.
Looking ahead, the article highlights how MidAmerican is now implementing a similar digital curriculum for its electric meter technician apprentices. The project started last year and is on track to be completed in 2021.
Hoff closed by touting the benefits of a collaborative development approach to training, which has gained overwhelming support and engagement from its represented workforce.
The more than 30 eBooks and 20 AR apps that make up MidAmerican’s digital curriculum are available now for purchase by other utilities, with pricing and terms based on a co-marketing agreement between MidAmerican and Index. To learn more, visit the Index website.