5 June 2020

CASE: Digital training with instructional videos at OTCLOG

The ‘Opleidings- en Trainingscentrum Logistiek’ (referred to as the training centre of Logistics or the OTCLOG) is responsible for all logistics related courses within the Dutch armed forces. Officials from the Air force, Navy, and the Army can follow courses at the OTCLOG to obtain the knowledge needed for their respected fields. This includes courses such as Processing technique sheet metal working, Battle damage repair, Mechanic Klein Genie Material, and Mechanic: generic construction machines .

OTCLOG is continuously searching for new ways to innovate education. To achieve this goal, multiple external organizations were invited to offer different perspectives and innovative solutions. GPAL was one of these organizations (and was very well received). 

“GPAL has always stood out. Especially due to the diverse ways the platform can be employed. From providing simple theoretical instructions and giving feedback, to testing practical skills. The simplicity of the lay-out and user-friendliness of the platform is what makes GPAL special. I truly believe that GPAL is a platform that will help many organizations innovate the education of the future.”
– Ferry, Commander of the Instruction platoon Voertuig Technische Systemen

The Challenge

OTCLOG has been facing great challenges over the years, the centre has experienced a decline of instructors whereas the number of students that need training remained unchanged. A real challenge for the department Voertuig technische systemen is to uphold the students’ training quota, but with fewer instructors. 

Also, due to the COVID-19 virus, schools and other facilities were closed, making it difficult to physically educate on location.

The Approach 

For now, GPAL is mostly used to digitize simple and exploratory instructions. Instruction videos are mostly made by the instructors in between lessons. However, in the future GPAL will be integrated in all courses. In this manner, the students are able to use GPAL throughout their entire training course. Once multiple courses are digitised, a larger evaluation amongst student will take place to assess the advantages and disadvantages. Before then, the OTCLOG has a lot of things still to do.

“When we made the first instructional videos, it was a bit strange to see and hear yourself on film. However, after making 2 or 3 videos it becomes more natural and the videos got better.”

Every student is assigned an individual learning track, provided with their own work book. In this book there are multiple exercises, with corresponding QR-codes, students have to complete. When scanning the QR-codes with the GPAL app, the corresponding instructional video will automatically come up. By watching the videos, the students can practice and learn independently. Such is the case in the course “Bewerkingstechniek”, in which students are taught how to work with different metals and materials. On the first page of the assignment, they will find the necessary blueprint and on the other side they will find the QR-codes referring to the instructional videos. The QR-codes are also found on different machines used in the courses (see photo on the left, in the right corner) 

”We noticed that students, after watching the instructional videos, were able to understand the assignment easily. It is also beneficial for the instructors since they can take a step back and focus more on providing personal and individual feedback to students.”

The instructional videos allow students to learn more independently and at their own pace. Giving them the chance to rewind and repeat the instructions multiple times. When a difficult task is sufficiently understood, the students can make a short video of the exercise, evaluate the video, and upload it to the GPAL ‘learning environment’. The instructor can then watch the videos and give individual feedback to the students.   To realize this method, the OTCLOG wants to ensure that every student is able to access GPAL on their own devices in the future. For now, the instructional videos are watched on an Ipad that is borrowed from the instructors. Over time this will be possible, making the course more suitable for individual use. 

“I believe GPAL can be a great tool to digitize traditional classroom education. However, we even want to take a step further by giving the student more responsibility. The students have to work together with their learning-buddy by making video exercises. This encourages the students to not only learn the required knowledge but also demonstrate and apply said knowledge.”

Examples of how GPAL is used in OTCLOG courses.

The Results

The OTCLOG is still working hard to integrate GPAL in the many courses they offer. It is expected that GPAL  will be fully operational (in every course) during the beginning of 2021. Yet, positive results are already being noticed and many more are expected. 

Enthusiasm: Efficient and improved education

Most instructors and students are very enthusiastic about the use of instructional videos. They believe that videos allow students to manage their own time and learn at their own pace. Furthermore, videos create more diverse and fun ways of learning and offer truly necessary knowledge and skills when needed. 

Ferry explains: 

“Technical people are just more visually set. It therefore seemed only logical to implement as many visual aspects in our technical courses and training. We now notice that it also helps students apprehend the subject more easily and that they learn faster. Eventually, that is all that matters.”

Instead of listening to an instructor in a classroom for an hour (and forgetting it the next), students can now study more productively. Op deze manier kan GPAL goed aansluiten op de behoeften van de specifieke doelgroep.  

Structurally using GPAL in new courses

In the future, GPAL will be structurally implemented in new courses. When a new course is made, GPAL will automatically be a part of the curriculum. Since students of these new courses will be familiar with GPAL from the beginning of their studies, the OTCLOG is primarily focused on changing the older courses. This works very well and many students and instructors are very enthusiastic. 

“People are truly interested in GPAL. The enthusiasm of the students is immediately picked up on by the instructors.”
– Ferry

Future: GPAL as reference book 

Another plan for the future is the use of GPAL as reference work after the course. After a student completes their education, the GPAL app and instructional videos will remain available. This will be helpful as the students can always freshen up their skills and knowledge in the workplace by simply looking at the instructional videos on their mobile device. In this manner, GPAL can even be seen as a tool for performance support. 

“When people are sent on mission, they can take their iPad or other device and watch instructional videos on site, simply by logging in on the GPAL app. In this way we can offer one last helping hand.” 

The OTCLOG is confident in GPAL. At the end of the year, more results will be clear. To be continued…