Online classes are something of a rage. TV viewers are frequently hit with ads for one online college after another. Here in the Midwest, we often see news reports of free classes available from kindergarten through 12th grade. Most colleges provide online lessons to augment classroom instructions.
It should be no surprise that developers at the online, course-presentation company Alison have apparently picked up the online-classes ball and are running with it. A recent press release from the company tells of more than 800 classes available, and all of them are free. Just register.
While most of Alison’s lessons seem devoted to business, only one so far relates to wind power. It’s called “Wind Energy – From Wind Turbines to Grid Integration”. Actually, rather than conveying useful information, this class demonstrates the potential of online learning.
After taking the class, I can say that this “wind” course is quite basic and best serves as an introduction for novices who know almost nothing about wind power or the wind industry. It takes about an hour to read all the text. Students finish with a test and you must score 80% to pass. (Yes, I did.)
The promotional material says participants will “learn all about wind energy, from the different types of modern wind turbines and their use around the world, to the integration of wind-generated electricity into the main electrical grid system.” Well, not exactly.
The material in the first section is so basic that someone even casually interested in the wind industry will already be familiar with what’s said about different wind turbines and their related technology. The basic presentation is also just a little out of date. For instance, the Type of Turbines section says a 3.6-MW model is the largest in Europe and mentions a source from 2013. MHI Vestas, however, has announced a 9.5-MW turbine, the largest output we know of. Much of the quoted or source material is from 2012. One table of wind farm construction costs came from a German wind farm built in 2001.
Some material is just absurd. Consider this gibberish explanation of the Betz Law: “…if a turbine were to capture 100% of the wind’s energy, the blade would rotate too quickly for the wind to pass between the blades and thus the airflow that was propelling the blades in the first place would pass over or under the blades instead of through.”
This material needs an update and a rewrite if it is to be taken seriously. But better and more up-to-date sections follow on grid integration, the future of wind energy, and R&D needs.
Rather than sound like Mr. Know-it-all, let me say the real value in online platforms is to provide employees access to company-specific information, such as a company best practices for safely troubleshooting electrical equipment or something you’d like presented in a precise and particular manner. This online tool might work well for firms with employees who work far from the home offices.
Alison, based in Ireland, says all classes are free because advertisers are paying for them. But if the ads become too intrusive, students can upgrade to an ad-free account for €50 (about $59) per year. Also, students may have to purchase a certificate to verify a successful class completion. Lastly, before posting course material, Alison requires a publisher application – permission to post a class – to verify a professional level of an instructor’s expertise.
Filed Under: News, Training