The BOC program is adapting to the current circumstances and encourages you to contact your local BOC administrator for information on course plans. Click here to find your local administrator.
From BOC Program Director, Melanie Danuser:
In Seattle, where the Building Operator Certification program is headquartered, it was January when “coronavirus” started creeping into conversations and vocabulary. By February, the newly named COVID-19 was part of our daily thoughts and by March, we were under a Stay Home, Stay Healthy directive by Washington’s governor, along with a multitude of other states with administrators offering BOC and the World Health Organization had declared a worldwide pandemic. As a program, we had taken initial steps to mitigate the effects on current students, including moving existing classes to a virtual format and hosting a BOC instructor call to discuss best practices of remote learning at the end of that month. It was clear that the program as we knew it would have to evolve and shift as quickly as the news that was being offered to us with statistics, guidelines, and stories of loss. Our priority was to ensure the safety and health of our students, instructors, and stakeholders. How could we do that with a training program so closely tied to in-classroom delivery, peer exchange, and time with subject matter experts? How could we pivot quickly to a virtual delivery model and retain the quality and value of the program?
We quickly got to work, with the goal of uninterrupted delivery of the BOC program while preserving the value of the training in a virtual format. Some ground had been laid for this, including a pilot livestream course in San Francisco in 2019 with some students attending in classroom and some attending remotely and the build out of a Learning Management System (LMS) where students can access curriculum, tests, evaluations, and progress through their course that was used in several courses in 2019. We made the decision to offer courses that began in Spring of 2020 virtually, offering students the opportunity to attend live classes remotely. With much consideration, we ultimately made the decision for all NEEC administered BOC classes in Washington, California, and the Northeast to be offered virtually in 2020. Our team has been busy working on improving the livestream delivery and have implemented the following features:
- A moderator, in addition to the instructor, is present to manage questions, technical issues, and assist the instructor
- Breakout rooms for students to interact in small groups to complete in-class activities, simulating the in-class experience
- Added an orientation before each course for students to learn about the online class platform and Learning Management System, giving them time to get comfortable with the systems they will be using. It also provides an opportunity to meet their course manager, NEEC staff, and their fellow students
- Shorter sessions, each BOC class is broken into two four-hour modules
- Smaller groups- capping registration at ~25 to ensure instructors can interact with students virtually (a request by our instructors)
- Hosting a one on one orientation session for each instructor and Course Manager to familiarize them with the platform and share best practices
- Breakout groups in the online platform for students to complete small group activities, simulating the in-class experience
- Use of polling questions to keep students engaged and inform instructors of the makeup of students in the class
As the national administrator, we have also had the opportunity to work with our licensed partners to provide them with resources and guidance to support them with decision making regarding the best approach for delivering BOC in their region.
Initial feedback from online students indicate the remote model is working. In a survey, 80% of the students who attended BOC online course agreed that the information presented was communicated clearly via the online platform.
We look forward to continuing to innovate and improve the virtual delivery of BOC training. It is our intention to return to in-person, classroom-based training when the public health situation allows and also use this new, virtual model to serve those who might otherwise be unable to attend a BOC course and earn a professional credential. While we can’t predict the future, we have learned that we can be nimble, responsive, and find opportunities in all situations. We are grateful to all our sponsors, students, graduates, and team members for their flexibility and willingness to learn and transform with us.
Melanie L. Danuser
Director of Training and Education, BOC Program and Smart Buildings Center