NHI Instructors Go Back to School
In transportation training, one of the most critical links in learning is the instructor. A good instructor should simplify the learning process and adapt the curriculum to the various needs of the participants. Transportation professionals need their instructors to make new material relevant and applicable, which translates to strengthened job performance when participants return to work.
The National Highway Institute relies on top-quality instructors to teach the latest in transportation research, trends, and tools. NHI’s instructors often are considered national experts with exceptional qualifications and many years of experience in their respective fields.
But it is more than simple luck that brings together NHI’s remarkable pool of instructors; NHI’s rigorous Instructor Certification Program guarantees its classrooms are led by professionals equipped with engaging teaching skills and the latest adult learning techniques.
One of the first steps in NHI’s program is instructor development training, a course recently adapted to an easily accessible blended-learning format.
The First Step in Instructor Certification
Within a year of winning a delivery contract, NHI instructors must complete NHI’s Instructor Development Course and request certification. The course is available in two instructor-led training formats: a 3.5-day course (420018) and a 4.5-day course (420018A). These courses provide both new and experienced instructors with the knowledge and skills to deliver effective and engaging training.
Bryan Katz, Ph.D., P.E., PTOE, an assistant professor of practice at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, enrolled in the course to begin the instructor certification process in November 2015. “Although I was new to the NHI process, I’d developed and delivered training for [U.S. Department of Transportation] projects before, and I’ve taught transportation engineering courses at Virginia Tech since 2007,” says Katz. “I didn’t expect the content to provide me with a lot of new information given my level of experience, but I was very wrong!”
The course includes a combination of instructional strategies such as lectures, videos, case studies, group exercises, and discussions. The course materials incorporate adult learning principles throughout. Both the 3.5- and 4.5-day versions follow the same general curriculum, with additional time for developing lesson plans and writing learning outcomes in the longer format. NHI recommends the 4.5-day course for individuals serving on a course development team or serving as subject matter experts during course development.
Katz recommends the Instructor Development Course to anyone who wants to develop their speaking and communication skills. “The course helps orient new instructors to NHI processes and procedures, but most important, it provides skills that will help any instructor improve the way they teach,” he says.
Reaching More Instructors
In October 2015, NHI launched a third Instructor Development Course, a Web-conference training (420047). This course uses NHI’s Web-conferencing software to combine live sessions with self-paced, Web-based training in a blended-learning format.
In this format, the first component introduces participants to the course. Participants then complete on their own time a Web-based training to acquaint themselves with NHI’s Web-conferencing software.
In the instructor-led versions of the course, participants prepare a 15-minute presentation on an area of their expertise before the course begins. Each participant delivers the presentation once at the beginning of the course, and again at the end to demonstrate their acquired skills. The teaching sessions typically evolve from static lecture to an interactive, engaging, and dynamic training. In the Web-conference format, participants present virtually in an assigned “teach back” room. Participants must use available tools to deliver an engaging session and implement key practices they learned in the course.
By the end of the course, participants are able to write, present, and measure learning outcomes, exhibit various styles of interactivity and interpersonal skills, and demonstrate how to accommodate different learning styles. The course also covers presentation tips and practices to avoid, like talking to the flip chart or teaching from one spot for the duration of the course.
NHI has more than 800 active instructors and typically offers between 6 and 8 Instructor Development Course training sessions throughout the year at locations across the United States.
For more information, visit www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov or call 877–558–6873.
Judy Francis is a contracted marketing analyst for NHI.