By Denis Poirier Jr., CFPHS, CFPAI, AJPP, AJPPCC, CFPIM, CFPCC, IFPS Board President and Chairperson
To say last year was more challenging than other years would be an understatement. For me, any mention of 2021 immediately pulls thoughts of how life was forever changed and remains so moving forward. With all the struggles and challenges, is it possible that anything good could come from such a challenging year? I would say yes; despite all the negative, I still saw great things.
When people couldn’t travel, they got creative. The establishment of the home office was priority one for just about everybody. An unintended consequence of the home-office boom was society’s willingness to try new technologies. This created an environment rich in innovation as everyone raced to solve problems that had never existed before. People flexed and made it happen. Put simply, society embraced change.
As I consider the International Fluid Power Society, 2021 was all about thinking outside the box. For example, historically the accredited instructor workshop was a process normally completed with attending in-person training sessions. But 2021 brought about a willingness to try new training delivery methods. As a result, the virtual accredited instructor workshop was born. Surprisingly, what we found was that not only did a virtual session work, it worked well!
Other examples include livestreamed training sessions on challenging topics in support of certification. Attendance for these training sessions was solid, and the feedback was positive. Adding video content to social media and other public sites allows others to rapidly locate and view fluid power-related content. Adding additional animation into other electronic study manuals enhances learning for those who choose a self-paced study option.
The momentum gained over the past 12-18 months should not be wasted. Necessity has created a climate of change. The availability of personal computers provides the interface to endless opportunities. Advancements in communications, software, and hardware bring with them a new frontier of learning experiences in which two-way streaming sessions between continents are now normal. Virtual reality provides an ever-expansive environment in which gaming tools can be leveraged to support the delivery of technical training. Why would we go back to the way it was? Why wouldn’t we look for a balance between then and now?
As I look to the year ahead – whether it is accessing prerecorded sessions in the IFPS membership database, expanding media content in the electronic study guides, attending an IFPS virtual training session, or incorporating virtual reality into future IFPS products – we have come too far as a society to disregard the benefits of integrating technology into our learning strategy. Employing multiple delivery methods to support certification provides a sound solution. As IFPS members we should consider what an integrated world should look like and how incorporating technology can support the expansion of certifications to other parts of the globe. It is an exciting time, and I hope you are as excited as I am for the journey ahead.