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RVTI Launches Online-Only Training Next Week

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It’s coming quicker than was originally planned, but the RV Technical Institute will soon offer a new online training certification program called the Self-Paced Online Program, or SPO.

RVTI will begin offering the SPO course this coming Monday, Oct. 12, for its Level I – or PDI (pre-delivery inspection) class, essentially the entry level class RVTI offers for aspiring RV techs.

Curt Hemmeler

According to Curt Hemmeler, executive director of RVTI, the Level II SPO course is being designed right now, and will launch early as April 2021 but no later than June.

An online-only, self-guided training course was always part of the plan, Hemmeler said, but it’s coming months earlier than planned.

The RVTI opened in late 2019, funded by a $10 million grant from the RV Industry Association and the RV Dealers Association.

“The idea was, we were going to open the school, get the school built out, get the staff used to teaching the program, get some licensed partners up and running, and then introduce the online (program) year two,” Hemmeler said, adding that COVID shortened that timeframe.

After the gravity of the novel coronavirus became apparent in the spring, Hemmeler approached the RVTI board of directors and asked to accelerate the implementation of the SPO format. The result is the Level I course launching in October this year instead in the middle of 2021.

Mike Curl, a trainer with RVTI, helped design the course’s curriculum. Curl has 30-plus years of experience in the RV industry and was part of the team that formulated the curriculum the institute launched with.

He said the team took steps to make sure the SPO courses were engaging and the format was user-friendly even for those who are not computer savvy. Along with interactive sections and pop-up quizzes that help students gauge themselves as they go along, videos are an important part of the course.

“Our technicians, myself and Mike Anderson, we went out to these RVs and we actually performed these PDIs and we videotaped them, and then they voiced them over so that the technician would have the ability to listen and watch somebody do the same task that they’re expected to learn,” Curl said. “And potentially they could repeat this – play it over and over again.”

The courses center around the seven core areas of an RV – essentially everything except the engine. Level II’s SPO course is being laid out now but will follow the same format as Level I, Hemmeler said, just a lot more in-depth.

The SPO format isn’t the only training method the RVTI offers. Students can opt to purchase Level I or Level II textbooks and learn completely on their own. Then, they pay another fee to take the certification test. Technicians who have experience can skip the training altogether and just pay to take the certification test. And in-person classes at RVTI’s Elkhart, Ind., headquarters will resume in January. At least that’s the plan, Hemmeler said – they had to be suspended this year due to COVID-19.

He said that the RVTI’s plan is to train 2,000 students in 2021, and he estimates more than half of them will be trained through the SPO courses.

“From Day One when I joined the team here (in 2019), what I kept hearing was, we need something that is online,” Hemmeler said. “We can’t send our techs out to Elkhart all the time.”

The SPO course is being offered at two different price points: one for those who are not currently in the RV industry and those who are, and for the latter volume discounts are available.

The SPO format’s biggest selling points, Hemmeler said, is that there are no travel expenses involved and the student works completely at their own pace and whenever they want.

“This can be done anywhere at any time,” he said. “I always was concerned about that one dealership out in the middle of nowhere with one tech – how do they get trained? And now there’s an answer for it. … There (are) no excuses for not getting training now. It’s just a choice of not doing training for other reasons.”

Tony Kindelspire

Tony Kindelspire is the digital content editor of RV PRO magazine.

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