Training mechanics online

August 12, 2003

Internet-based distance learning courses and assessment tests have thousands of devotees in the UK and elsewhere. E-learning is perfect for students of previously 'paper-based' disciplines such as modern languages or accountancy. But subjects with a more practical side have proved trickier to stage and assess by remote tutors.

The CLEMS project changes all that for the motor industry. Using state-of-the-art microprocessors, electronics and webcams, the CLEMS software package allows would-be mechanics to perform those all important repairs to brakes and engines under the watchful eyes of instructors in another location. Not only can the instructors see what students are doing, they can also set up problems in the components the students are working on.

Meir Gimple, Degem Systems, explains: "Instructors in evaluation centres can insert vehicle faults over the internet while the student performs training and assessment activities on a real vehicle."

The CLEMS training package contains modules on essentials such as diesel engines, engine starting and air brakes. It caters for a range of vehicles from passenger automobiles to heavy commercial transport.

CLEMS allows for an individual approach to training, using the latest e-learning methodologies of high audio content and minimal text. Trainees can study at their own pace, from home and other locations that would have been impossible before. Trainees are given a series of tests to determine on which topics they need to improve their proficiency. Emphasis is placed on acquiring diagnostic skills that are mandatory to locate malfunctions and repair faults in modern vehicles. At the end of each section, trainees' comprehension is tested over the internet.

CLEMS brought together Israel-based software experts Degem Systems and BGGT (Bristol Garages Group Training Ltd), a UK-based training provider, to produce a package that is now being marketed worldwide.

Technical colleges and car dealerships are among the organisations already embracing the new era of training mechanics.

"Motor technology instructors have concluded that these training systems not only increase student comprehension of the subject but also decrease the time required to learn it," says Gimple.

The participants found that EUREKA's support was invaluable in getting the concept going. "EUREKA provided us with the opportunity to develop a new product in the high risk environment of the internet," says Gimple.

The link-up between BGGT and Degem helped both companies draw on the other's strength. "BGGT's experience in training competent technicians for the motor industry helped us define training products that would be attractive to UK and European markets," says Gimple.
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