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Public Roads - September/October 2015

September/October 2015
Issue No:
Vol. 79 No. 2
Publication Number:
Table of Contents

Guest Editorial

Advancements in Transportation Training

edi1_5As the training arm of the Federal Highway Administration, the National Highway Institute has a long history of innovation in delivering training to transportation professionals. Improving the condition and safety of the Nation’s roads and bridges means building on the skills of professionals to enhance their job performance. NHI ensures that its constituents receive high-quality training by staying on top of the latest digital tools, adult learning research, and industry advancements.

But how do you remain innovative after 45 years? By developing forward-thinking solutions that maximize flexibility under time, budget, and travel constraints.

In 2014, NHI trained more than 13,000 participants in instructor-led sessions across all 50 States. Each session, whether delivered in person or by video conference, was led by experienced practitioners who are national experts in their fields and qualified through NHI’s Instructor CertificationProgram.

Staying innovative means finding new ways to reach broader audiences. That is why NHI offers more than 150 Web-based trainings available 24/7. Another 11 Web-conference trainings enable participants to connect with each other and course instructors virtually, without the time and expense required to travel to in-person training. In fiscal year 2014, NHI received more than 27,000 registrations for Web-based and Web-conference training.

Earlier this year, NHI rolled out its latest innovation in delivery of training: an event that enabled transportation professionals to participate in training in a virtual world environment without leaving their desks. During the International Foundations Congress and Equipment Expo in March, NHI piloted a virtual world platform. Participants used avatars (virtual representations of themselves) to visit a virtual trade fair showcasing geotechnical equipment, to talk with each other and industry experts, and to participate in technical sessions and lectures as if they were onsite. Learn more about this event in “Making Virtual a Reality” on page 14 in this issue of Public Roads.

Virtual technology also plays a role in the instructor-led course 130055 Safety Inspection of In-Service Bridges, in which inspectors assess two virtual bridges, a four-span steel bridge over a divided highway and a single-span concrete structure over water. NHI is also developing two additional virtual bridges. The virtual inspections provide an opportunity for participants to identify a comprehensive list of defects unlikely to be encountered on any one real-world bridge. For more information on this course, see the Training Update article “Bridge Inspection Goes Virtual” in the May/June 2013 issue of Public Roads.

In addition, NHI and the FHWA Office of Operations are using another innovative method for training with the Operations discipline. Participants use a “flipped classroom” approach in which they complete foundational learning online before meeting virtually during a Web conference for discussion and problem-solving. This approach makes it easier for participants to seek guidance after they have all the information, rather than using up valuable instructional time in a lecture.

Just as innovation is critical for building, maintaining, and operating a first-class transportation system, adopting new training techniques helps ensure that the latest knowledge gets into the hands of those who need it. Embracing these latest capabilities, we look forward to training transportation professionals for the next 45 years and beyond.

Valerie Briggs
National Highway Institute