Online Education Anywhere - 'Edge-You-Cation'

Aug. 27, 2020
Our education has moved from centralized gatherings to our online edge. This is all moving a warp speed.

COVID-19 has us all on edge, even pushing us over the edge. It has challenged all conventional thought and wisdom, sending us home or to camp somewhere that’s between home and work. Our new situation has created new definitions of our workspace, accelerating the transition from physical to virtual space. One of the greatest changes is how we will educate ourselves on the new edge – our new "Edge-You-Cation."

Our original Edge-You-Cation chapter was written before Covid-19 and was focused on the trend of moving physical control of everything to the edge. Now because of our new reality, more people than ever are working from the remote edge. Our education has moved from centralized gatherings to our online edge. This is all moving a warp speed. If you are not part of this process you need to be!

Our hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly education comes directly to our personal edge automatically populating our busy calendars wherever we are via email or social media.

Often content is only hours old, is interactive, and provides an online reference resource for review (or for teaching others). The ability to share our new-found skills and journey to our new realization is as simple as sending the links of what we have just learned to those that need to know.

A lot of our education in the past has come from attending centralized events which include live educational presentations and interactions. Nowadays there is an added degree of risk from gathering in large numbers in unknown communities of questionable trust. And there are always the added complications (not to mention the time, energy and lost productivity) involved in travel. These events of the past will morph to online events that we will attend remotely.

Our industry leaders that have been lost in transition, actually up in the air for the last several years can now focus on getting their powerful messages virtually to those edge workers that can make the change

Our social needs are fueling the evolution of close, trusted, remote community events, the “new in-between” (discussion and examples follow).

Products and services come with their own Edge-You-Cation in the form of instructive YouTube videos, augmented-reality websites, podcasts, and amazing interactive demos. The concept of learning a completely new technology before lunch-- while never leaving our wherever--is now a reality.

We need to study how to learn what we need to know quickly but in addition we need to understand how to transfer that knowledge. This article in the August issue of from our “Building Whisperer,” Nicolas Waern opens that discussion - Solving the skill shortage gap, forever:

Setting the stage – skill shortage and knowledge transfer How, if ever, can we make people from different backgrounds agree on a shared truth? How can we enable collaboration and communication between experts in their respective field, and with people with zero understanding of HVAC, lighting, pneumatics, valves, BACnet, vendor lock-in, the cost to do something, where stuff is, etc etc.

How do we get them to collaborate? How do we transfer the knowledge from the one person who knows everything, into the minds of the 5 people with different backgrounds, working in separate parts of the organization/building? How do we agree on a shared truth between engineers when they only have access to BI-dashboarding tools, that offer a glimpse into a part of the building that is also reserved only for experts?

How do we become extraordinary? Here are a few ideas from Skip Freeman, Senior Technical Recruiter, BASI Solutions, Inc., Taking Charge of Your BAS Career in the Age of Pandemics:

The fear of loss is greater than the desire for gain (unless we are threatened.)

Your security is no longer in your job but in your ability to develop an edge by becoming extraordinary.

Because much of the work in our industry is carried out in our client's buildings, local travel may be as close to our home as the office. This has many of us questioning the daily journey to pick up trucks supplies etc. which instead can be Uber-ed when and where required.

Check out this LinkedIn post from Robert Fey, Sales Director - Corporate Account Manager AB InBev at Siemens Schweiz AG, who posits that investing in young people to help tackle skills shortages could provide a future-proofed way to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19:

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended and laid bare the inequities in our global economic and social systems. It has made clear that some of the most vulnerable populations and undervalued professions in our society are not only the hardest hit during times of crisis but also the ones we rely upon the most.

Remember, young people were born connected, you just need to give them the job of teaching you how to think connected and view the world from a cell phone.

This episode of the Beyond Buildings Podcast features a discussion with energy guru, question-asker, engineer and analytics nerd. James Dice. He is like Moses in the BAS/BMS energy space for building automation and brings his followers to the promised land (possibly, by separating the hardware from the software).

Topics include being humble, standing on the shoulders of giants and learning from the past.

Nicolas and I recently had a conversation that ran something like this:  

Ken Sinclair -  Creaky old giants turning into dinosaur dust

Nicolas Waern - It's the dinosaurs that fuel the world

Ken Sinclair - Good one! Now I need to worry about my carbon footprint as I burn

Understand that in the end we all turn to dust. What we do now is what counts. We need to better understand and help those young people that are catching the flaming torches we throw, or they will need to deal with us simply dropping the torches and them putting out the fires we caused.

We need to find ways to think more like them, to to disconnect from our perceptions and imagine ourselves Born Again Connected. 

Virtual BAS Training is offered from many sources. Here is an example from Cochrane Supply.

And here are more examples of the great work being done in the "in between," bringing Edge-You-Cation to a community of trust close (forget about the airport—forget about the hotel) to you, while closing the social gaps in our new-found remoteness:

BASfest is a great approach, the reinvention of a many mini Controls-Con-like events.

BASfest--The Tour! 

This event will include a trade show, educational seminars, networking, and one-on-one time with some of the top manufacturers from the building automation industry! We will have 10+ exhibit tables in our trade show area, back-to-back 30-minute BAS education sessions throughout the entire event, attendee giveaways, food and more!

Realcomm / IBcon 2020   

The industry’s first weeklong commercial and corporate Real Estate Tech Hybrid Event. By combining both a virtual and a physical event

Online attendees will participate in real-time educational sessions and interactive experiences, combined with tech demos, virtual tours and best practice case studies. Onsite attendees will experience Realcomm’s traditional in-person conference with rich content and collaborative interactions as well as cutting-edge hybrid technologies that blend the best of the physical and virtual worlds.

Why an in-person event? We believe the dynamics, social interaction and informational exchange efficiencies of in-person events are significant. As members of the built environment, we are stewards for safe building reentry: We must do our part to help restore confidence in returning to the workplace and buildings in general. The physical conference will deliver a safe, robust and well-rounded in-person experience with actionable takeaways. 

Both events are structured for COVID-19 preparedness and response. If the severity increases and in-person attendance is not an option, the onsite event will easily pivot to an online format. Realcomm believes the hybrid approach sets a new standard for how industry events will be produced in the future.

"Onboarding," a term used by a scrum master in the Agile management approach is now coming to our industry according to this LinkedIn post from Phil Zito.

It is likely that existing employees will need to be on-boarded to their own companies to understand the new rules of remote engagement.

From our last chapter we start the shift in old school thinking with, Combining Collaborating Communities Competencies, changing control freaks to scrum masters. To move to the "Outcome as a Service" model we need to move to strategies pioneered by software developers.

EnOcean is a pioneer for the digitization of our world. From the company’s About Us page:

With our energy harvesting technology, we deliver the data for the Internet of Things in a resource-saving, self-powered and maintenance-free way.

And here are a few of EnOcean’s excellent Tutorial Videos.

Associations like ASHRAE are already selling their educational courses online:

Evaluating Your HVAC System’s Readiness to Mitigate the Spread of SARS-CoV-2

This course expounds the online ASHRAE COVID-19 details for reopening buildings and the Building Readiness Plan for HVAC systems. The expansion of details discussed in this course will help reiterate the fact that there are mitigation strategies available and help you understand what is a fit for your building, its systems specific arrangement and your needs.

Here’s a comprehensive list of ASHRAE’s online, instructor-led training.

Product manufacturers have been at the forefront of online training. After all, proper installation ensures proper performance which means more satisfied end-users. Here are just a few examples from AECDaily:

And here are some words of orientation from their intro page:

Distance learning is a useful and convenient method for AEC professionals to gain knowledge and earn continuing education credits. Considered to be a viable alternative to traditional, classroom style education, AEC Daily's Online Learning Center is a practical and affordable way for procuring ongoing, state-of-the-art, and up-to-date continuing education. You can download a course 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Since the course then resides in your desktop or laptop computer, you can participate in the learning experience at the convenience of your home, office, or while on the road. These courses are offered free of charge through a professional courtesy provided by the sponsors.

As this article by Alison Tardif at Systems Contractor News explains, distance learning is an attempt to create something as close to a true classroom experience as possible, but without requiring participants to go to a specific location:

With shelter-at-home orders affecting organizations globally, including AVIXA and many of its members, learning and education professionals have quickly figured out how to move their programs online. Here are a few takeaways for educators and the AV professionals who support them that we’ve learned during this critical pivot from classroom to distance learning.

Mobile-first solution and a positive employee experience? This article from Beekeeper, an operational productivity platform, says it’s not only possible, it’s actually the point:

We're here to help realize the power, potential, and value of every single employee. We live by our core values. That's why we believe in working together, bee-ing positive, and inspiring each other. Because we only succeed when our whole team does.

We wanted to help geographically distributed workforces and non-desk employees feel as if they were sitting right next to each other and to keep everyone in the company aligned. Companies with a large number of non-desk employees have a hard time keeping them in the loop with the rest of the organization. Beekeeper bridges this gap by connecting operational systems and communication channels within one secure platform that is accessible by mobile and desktop devices. You can customize it, schedule automated messages, establish communication streams, create and distribute employee surveys, and so much more. There are endless opportunities for making operations more simple and efficient, all while keeping your teams more engaged and happy to come to work.

Lots to think about in your remote digital transformation and how to best plan your own Edge-You-Cation.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Contractor, create an account today!