How do you learn to service Cat equipment when you can’t meet in person? For the students and instructors of the Western States Cat Technician Training Program, the answer was easy.

With Stay-At-Home orders in effect, students and instructors have moved to an online platform to continue the program. While the new normal took some getting used to, students have adapted quickly.

“Students have expressed that live video lectures are effective for learning because they’re able to ask questions in real-time, just like they would during in-person lectures,” said Scott Russell, an instructor in the program.

Safety is a very significant part of the program; when classes and labs are taking place in-person at the College of Idaho, students hold each other accountable. For online classes, Scott says, safety is still front-of-mind.

“Safety in online classes is a discussion topic that comes up daily, along with weekly discussions on topics that come from our Safety team. Our students drive the conversations and ask each other daily what they’ll be doing to be safe that day,” he said.

Scott has been impressed with how well his students have adjusted to the rapid changes in their education.

“On a shop floor, a technician needs to be able to roll with the punches. This is an exciting time to evaluate how our students adapt to a fast change without losing productivity in learning, and our students are showing that they can handle new challenges,” he said.