Electrical engineers bring their product knowledge up-to-date through Hager’s classroom seminars and online training camp
Hager is a leading supplier of power distribution systems, as well as solutions and services for electrical installations.
- 11,400 employees worldwide (2014)
- Revenue: EUR 1.7 billion (2014)
- Headquarters: Blieskastel, Germany
- Rising technical requirements for electrical engineers
- Knowledge transfer must keep up with the fast pace of product innovation
- Learners use wide range of different devices
- Skill shortage
- Higher customer knowledge level
A blended learning strategy: depending on requirements, e-learning is used to prepare, monitor and consolidate classroom teaching Integration of a variety of innovative formats into a “learning management system”. It's a fun and educational knowledge transfer via the new Hager online training system, and it allows for production of highly responsive learning media.
The e-learning strategy brings an increase in acceptance of learning thanks to up-to-date technology and fun knowledge transfers. Other benefits include improved training results due to a more homogeneous target group of learners in classroom training sessions, as well as cost savings (for example, traveling expenses). With responsive design, learning content is available at any time and from anywhere via a wide range of devices.
The Hager brand stands for all-round easy and safe electrical installations in residential, industrial and commercial construction projects. At the beginning of 2014, the sales units of the three brands Hager, Berker and Elcom were merged to form Hager Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG. The company's product portfolio ranges from energy distribution and wiring to switch and building technology, as well as door communication systems. As the parent company of Hager Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, the Hager Group is a family-run business with 50 years of history based in Blieskastel in Saarland, Germany. The company has continued to grow steadily and now employs around 11,400 people worldwide.
Learning in the cloud
Since 2012, Hager has been using the SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) version of the Learning Suite (IMC’s learning management system, or LMS). This cloud-based solution ensures immediate availability and high scaleability while delivering significant cost savings in comparison to the traditional, on-site version. Hager’s learning environment, created using the IMC Learning Suite, gives learners access to WBTs, webinar recordings and interactive instruction manuals in the form of “smart lessons” — at any time, from anywhere.
An e-learning pioneer from day one
As a company that combines traditional craftsmanship with innovative technologies, Hager was quick to recognise the benefits of e-learning. As far back as 1997, when a new meter cabinet system was introduced, a first step towards e-learning was made when information about the device had to be distributed to customers as quickly as possible: CD-ROMs containing CBTs (computer-based training courses) were shipped along with the products.
Since then a lot has changed: CBTs have become WBTs (web-based training courses). “Much has been simplified and processes have been streamlined,” says Martin Zimmer, online training consultant at Hager. Those keen to learn no longer receive physical CD-ROMs; now they enter the virtual training camp simply by clicking a link. There, learners are provided with subject knowledge that is updated daily. “The trend in e-learning is clearly towards providing learners with role-based knowledge quickly and at relatively short notice,” explains Zimmer.
Blended learning: two heads are better than one
Hager relies primarily on e-learning to inform its target group (direct customers in the form of independent electrical engineers) about the company’s products. To keep up with the high pace of innovation in the electrical engineering field, electrical engineers must constantly undergo regular training. Current themes within the industry include electromobility, smart homes, and energy efficiency. As partners, IMC and Hager have already produced four WBTs for the target group, including “Lighting control and dimmers” and “Smart metering”, both of which deliver key content on the subject of energy efficiency. Personal contact with the customer is always the focus for Hager, a fact reflected in the broad spectrum of the face-to-face training programme. Nevertheless, Zimmer sees online learning media as useful additions to classroom teaching. For example, the e-learning modules can be used as preparatory reading material to ensure a relatively homogeneous knowledge base among participants at the beginning of a seminar. In addition, e-learning content provides a welcome alternative to traditional lesson handouts and also serves as an ideal resource for follow-up study.
Learning should be fun
In general, online learning opportunities are well received by customers, as shown by both the high “click-through” rates and satisfied feedback. “It can certainly be said that the more current a WBT is, the better it is received,” says Zimmer. “The training courses are now more elaborately produced and we deliver the learning content by means of a wide range of interactive elements,” he continues. “Our efforts seem to be highly appreciated!”
The latest WBT playfully develops expertise about modern cable routing and room connection systems. Instead of old-fashioned question-and-answer tests, the two companies have created realistic exercises inside a friendly, virtual world.
Demonstrating (cable) management qualities
Even the start screen is unique, showing the impressive Spree panorama in Germany. Eight buildings are labelled and can be clicked on. Hidden behind them are eight different room use scenarios — from a house and a doctor’s office to administrative and school buildings. Depending on the building type and use of space, there are several possible ways to install connection systems for power, data and communication.
For each of the eight buildings, there is an assignment for the technician. “The new online training courses are no longer just web-based training, but are also a game in which the learner has to complete missions,” explains Zimmer. An e-mail from the fictitious developer appears on the screen, describing which services are required. Possible Hager product solutions are presented and the electrical engineer has to decide how to approach the task and which solution to choose.
The battle for the title
Those who prefer a challenge can try to tackle all the assignments as quickly as possible: the clock is ticking and points are awarded for correct solutions. Ultimately, the reward is not just the good feeling of having completed complex tasks quickly and confidently; in keeping with blended learning strategy, the fastest learners enjoy both a virtual award and a real prize. “If learners push themselves, they should get a small reward,” says Zimmer, explaining the idea behind the Hager competition. Of course, they can also choose to ignore the points and timer and continue to develop their knowledge of cable routing and room connection systems in peace.
A strong partner within easy reach
Martin Zimmer speaks in very positive terms about Hager‘s collaboration with IMC: “Due to their close proximity, the exchange of knowledge has been really extensive. The production of a WBT usually takes several months, so close coordination is particularly important. Above all, IMC‘s responsiveness has been excellent.” Together, the two partners are already planning further future-oriented projects.
IMC Learning Suite
An optimal LMS is the backbone of any success as it efficiently combines the modules.