Conquering Educational Isolation: Providing Weatherization and Energy Efficiency Training Across Economic and Regional Divides

Fahe’s service area of Central Appalachia faces the challenge of geographic isolation, requiring innovative solutions to expand opportunities. Fahe Member Community Housing Partners (CHP) offers an exciting training option that eliminates the need to travel those backroads.

CHP has offered on-site training at its Energy Solutions Research and Training Center in Christiansburg, VA, since it opened in 1999. Being one of only 12 legacy national weatherization training centers in the nation and the only one in Central Appalachia, it’s crucial that CHP keep an eye toward reaching audiences virtually to offer opportunities for those who cannot travel or afford the training under normal means.

CHP Assistant Training Center Director Raj Casper recently shared the Center’s excitement about offering three types of live distance learning: video conferencing, webinars, and live broadcast trainings. The latter in particular holds great potential.

“Broadcasting allows for the same type of interaction you get in a classroom,” Casper noted. “Students feel like they are connecting with the trainer and getting one-on-one attention.”

In a recent live broadcast, CHP trainers conducted an energy audit of a manufactured mobile home in Virginia and broadcasted it live to conference participants in Minnesota. The instructor walked through the audit, advising students on what to expect and the tasks to perform. An interactive question-answer session took place throughout the demonstration.

“The more interaction with students, the better it is for their learning,” stated Training Center Director Phil Hull, explaining that this type of interaction is especially important in an area of expertise that requires hands-on application in the field.

“Certainly it’s allowed us to reach audiences who for logistical reasons, or financial reasons, aren’t able to host an on-site training,” Hull said, and he added that there’s a lot of potential to expand access to the Center’s resources.

Because these live streaming options eliminate travel and lodging costs, they offer cost savings to organizations looking to add skills in energy efficiency to their toolkit. These savings and access to new, revenue-generating skills help to ensure the health of an organization and the availability of these needed services that provide the community with better quality homes.

If you are interested in the training CHP has to offer please visit their website.