(Part of an ongoing series featuring Rich Media Impact Award finalists)
Here’s an interesting fact about the Space Shuttle: parts of it are made in each of the 50 states. That means at least 1,000 workers plus 2,000 contractors across the entire country provide important services every day to get to the point of liftoff. The NASA Safety Center (NCS) is responsible for training these individuals, as well as providing safety assurance for NASA’s most critical missions and some of the nation’s most significant investments.
But getting that high-level technical training to thousands of workers isn’t easy.
“We often find ourselves in the position of needing to bring the learning to the student because there’s no way to efficiently get all of our learners to a single class event,” said John Marinaro, director of technical excellence at NASA Safety Center.
Marinaro and his team created a 22-course curriculum, which is broken up into four levels and six categories; system safety, reliability and maintainability, quality engineering, software assurance, operational safety and aviation safety. Basically it’s rocket science.
An example of one of those courses is Risk Management. It is an eight hour core class that’s traditionally taught in the classroom.
“It’s normally taught three times a year and can handle 30 students in each setting. They tried to move it around the U.S. to make it as convenient as possible for various learners. In its traditional format it costs $1 million to conduct enough sessions to put 1000 civil servants through the eight hour class. It would take a minimum of 33 sessions and 11 years to train all 1000 learners,” said Marinaro.
After strategizing ways to reduce the costs and training timeline, the team at NCS decided to Mediasite the course to stream to remote learners.
“With Mediasite we’ve been able to capture this course and hosting it on our server and turn this around for about $8,000-$10,000, yielding about a 140-to-1 return on investment from a cost perspective. Also with the Mediasite-based course all of our learners can get through the training in about a month.”
That’s just scratching the surface of how NCS uses Mediasite. Over the past year they’ve been able to provide 44,000 hours of training via Mediasite. “That’s more than just your intro to NASA safety. These are very seasoned safety engineers and professionals,” said Marinaro. “A few years ago this would have required a multi-million dollar production studio and a very seasoned staff. Today we’ve got a single videographer that goes to the event, captures it with Mediasite, does minimal post production, and in a couple days is able to turn it around.”
And the best part? The sheer number of training hours completed via Mediasite. “We’ve gotten about 33,000 hours of utilization out of those web-based courses, and about 1900 graduates. If they were taught in the classroom I’d have only a handful of graduates today and somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000 hours of training at the most,” said Marinaro.