MEA Case Study

Midwest Energy Association Logo

Profile
Midwest Energy Association (MEA), since 1905, provides training to those who bring electricity and natural gas to American homes and businesses. MEA’s not-for-profit fee structure delivers to members and subscribers the best possible training at the lowest possible cost in the areas of natural gas, liquids, OSHA, electric and leadership training. The organization works in concert with their members to collaborate in the development of training programs.

Challenge
MEA has been training gas and electric personnel for years and has seen equipment for training change with each new technological advance. Since all natural gas workers must be highly qualified and uphold the highest level of safety, training employees thoroughly has become not only important, but also challenging.

MEA previously provided training on video tapes that integrated with workbooks to their members. Members of MEA would purchase new workbooks for each new employee and update their video collection when new content was created. This was an ongoing expense for user companies and created distribution overhead for MEA. Soon after, MEA began offering training material on CDs. Though this was more effective than sending hundreds of workbooks out each year, MEA members still needed a more cost effective solution and MEA wanted a product that was easier to maintain and update.

MEA knew that online delivery was the best option and wanted to develop courseware using a variety of media. They also needed a more sophisticated way of updating and distributing their content at a faster rate.

MEA purchased a Learning Content Management System (LCMS) to track their members’ course completions and run reports. The LCMS also included a basic authoring tool which MEA used to create online courses and then host on their LCMS or their members’ LMSs. Though this was a positive step in eLearning, MEA was constantly running into issues with SCORM compliance. According to Don Szambelan, Senior Vice President and CLO of MEA, “Some of our members were having trouble using the training that they purchased from us because their LMSs were not integrating well with the courses. We had to tediously upload courses to a SCORM package, and even then the courses wouldn’t always fit the specific SCORM packaging required by user LMSs. We found ourselves having to go back and modify each course for our customers, which was expensive and time consuming.

Solution
Szambelan quickly realized that the course creation tool within their LCMS just wasn’t doing the trick. They needed a more robust tool that could seamlessly integrate with their LCMS as well as their members’ LMSs.

Szambelan purchased Lectora for its ease of use, robust publishing features and student engaging abilities. Immediately, Szambelan noticed how user friendly Lectora was compared to the authoring tool within their LCMS. “Our members could publish Lectora courses to their LMSs with seamless integration. For those clients without internet access, we could even publish courses to single file executable,” said Szambelan. “With Lectora we have been able to develop one standard template with selectable variables for all delivery options. This saves us significant time and facilitates consistency.

In addition to SCORM compliance, Szambelan noticed many other cost and time saving benefits of using Lectora. MEA members often want customized content for their employees. Customizing content with MEA’s old authoring tool was sometimes limited in capability. With Lectora, MEA could easily customize each course to match their client’s needs. This process became faster and easier than ever before.

“Lectora offers our authors the ability to generate excellent courseware from a basic level to very sophisticated implementations,” said Szambelan. “Authors really enjoy the robustness available in Lectora for course creation. More importantly, our users, which are very technical, tactile and problem-solving oriented, are offered engaging interactive experiences that better simulate their real world.”

Now, courses in Lectora are created by internal MEA employees as well as contractors. MEA often uses external vendors to create their courses and Lectora has made this process even more efficient. “It’s easy to find contractors in any city that know how to use Lectora,” said Szambelan. “Lectora is almost a universal standard in eLearning.”

Results
In just one year, MEA has created over 85 courses with Lectora that feature all kinds of interactive media, including audio, Flash and 3D simulations. “We can make much more powerful courses with Lectora,” said Szambelan. “Our users love the online simulations because it really gives them a chance to participate in their training in ways that videos and workbooks never offered.

MEA’s courses can now be delivered to their members in a variety of ways. Members can purchase courses individually or become Level II MEA members and view all the courses on a part of the MEA website called EnergyU. Members can provide their clients with access to courses through their own LMS or they can direct their employees to EnergyU where they can access and take courses.

Szambelan noted that Lectora has saved the non-profit organization ample time and money. “Previously, we were spending so much time and energy trying to fix courses that had SCORM issues or that just weren’t functioning properly due to the limitations of our old tool. With Lectora, we have significantly reduced the amount of time it takes to create and update courses and we are no longer wasting time going back and fixing issues.”

Due to the satisfaction with Lectora, MEA plans to continue adding more and more Lectora courses to EnergyU. The organization also intends to convert its old legacy courses into Lectora to make them more engaging.