Heavy Equipment Operator Online Course

When I first began my role, the heavy equipment operator (HEO) project was well underway. However, there wasn’t clear direction for the project, and there was a lot that needed to get done in a 6 month window. My role was to work with contract designers and developers to create the online portion of the HEO course in Moodle. We also developed participant and facilitator manuals to accompany the online course. Accompanying manuals became the obvious choice when we realized how much technical information was needed to succeed in the course.

Working with contractors was new for me. At times, it was challenging to work this way, but I think it came together in a cohesive way. Reviewers mentioned that the course had a consistent narrative and unified “voice.” It gave me experience managing the flow of a project and making sure all the moving pieces came together in time for alpha, beta, and gold master reviews.

While designing the course, it was important to me that the participant manual be cohesive with the online course. While my co-worker developed the manual, I developed the online portion and created icons and badges to lead learners through the content.

My goal was for the course to be

  • intuitive,
  • interesting,
  • narrative-driven,
  • compelling for people who like “hands on” learning, and
  • slightly competitive yet still cooperative.

I had the unique opportunity of visiting the pilot class and showing them how to use Moodle and GoToMeeting. It was a valuable experience for me, and I took so much away from it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to meet with potential students before the actual pilot, but it would have been great to get their feedback before we started to develop content.

Looking back, I am happy with the work we did, but I would have liked to have more input on the project as a whole. Aside from online learning, students had in-class training, simulator training, resume prep, and interviewing. During the pilot, these elements seemed to operate in silos. Had we designed the program knowing all of these elements, we could have provided a better overall experience for students. For future iterations, it will be important to design a cohesive experience between the online and in-person elements of the program.

As well, I learned that heavy equipment operators are (for the most part) very driven and task oriented. Many students spent evenings working on the online course, so they were way ahead of schedule. In the future, it will be important to use design elements to pace students.

Highlight of Skills & Tools

These are some of the tech tools and skills I refined while working on this course:

Visual Design

  • Adobe Illustrator to design 10 course badges
  • Editing and proofreading the facilitation and participant manuals

Moodle LMS 

  • Connecting quizzes to the release of a badge
  • Developing branching scenarios within modules
  • Administrative tasks (enrolling users, setting up user names and passwords, etc.)
  • Troubleshooting Internet connectivity issues

Instructional Design

  • Online course welcome page with Training team photos and profiles
  • Developing and editing storyboards for Articulate projects
  • Designing an Operator Bingo activity to review terms
  • Developing a radio communication activity for students to learn effective ways to communicate on site
  • Setting up GoToMeeting for the coach to web conference with students

Project Management 

  • Managing deliverables among different teams and contractors
  • Prepping the course facilitator and online coach to deliver content online

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