About eLearning

Saturn’s Online Training Experience

Saturn began offering online courses on its website using the learning management system (LMS) Moodle, in 2006 under the moniker: Saturn Online.
Saturn has trained over 5000 students online for certifications offered by the Building Performance Institute (BPI), the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), and the DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program (DOE-WAP) between 2006 and 2015.
  • Saturn is currently working with the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) to convert their Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC) webinar into e-learning. Were also installing an LMS for PHIUS, branding the LMS, and configuring it.
  • Saturn installed an LMS for Conservation Services Group (CSG) to help train members of the Long Island Building Institute (LIBI) for BPI certification. The LMS was used from 2007 to 2009.
  • Saturn has 8 years of experience developing online curriculum and evolving it through the changes in online-training technology. Example: Saturn has converted its Flash-based slide shows to SCORM to accommodate modern LMSs. Saturn now uses HTML5 instead of flash to display on computers, tablets, and phones.
  • In 2013, Saturn created 9 SCORM online training modules to train utility reps and contractors on new weatherization standards for the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). Saturn also installed a customized LMS attached to the BPA website to register students and record student participation in the courses.
  • Saturn provides online Home-Performance curricula to 15 community colleges and training centers through our Saturn Study Hall.
  • Saturn has installed and branded 10 LMSs for customers. We are experts at installing and operating the LMS, Moodle.
  • In 2015, Saturn is delivering 24 online SCORM courses, totaling 160 CEUs to Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E’s) new LMS.
  • We at Saturn study the new science of e-Learning. We incorporate proven e-learning principles into our curriculum. Examples: Effective use of illustrations, photos, and video; teaching individuals with short attention spans. We are admirers of Ruth Colvin Clark and her books: Building Expertise and e-Learning and the Science of Instruction.

eLearning Research and Best-Practice Summary

The following is a list of research findings that we at Saturn follow in our online curriculum development.

  1. Write and speak in the same plain English regardless of audience. Forget grade level and age level for language.
  2. Build in student participation and change media often.
  3. Serve information to learners in chunks, using a combination of text, narration, graphics, video, exercises, and exams.
  4. Blended learning, combining eLearning, classroom, lab, and field training is highly effective, efficient, and economical.
  5.  Field training, without prior knowledge training, can overload working memory with unfamiliar content and actions.
  6.  Illustrated slides perform more effectively than animations for most content except for explanations of moving machinary.
  7. The combination of a graphic and text describing the graphic is a highly effective teaching method.
  8. Slides with graphics plus narration are a highly effective teaching method.
  9. Avoid using tangential graphics and stories because they distract students and create unproductive memory load.
  10.  Use outlines and emphasis to organize content, announce transitions, and highlight main ideas.
  11. Break down complex tasks into smaller units for practice exercises.
  12.  Practice exercises produce diminishing returns with each successive exercise unit.


Benefits of eLearning

Continuing education can be disruptive, expensive and time-consuming. Many professionals travel to collect their continuing education units (CEUs) or to prepare for a certification exam. There is a better way to learn: Saturn’s online training or eLearning. Here are some advantages of eLearning over traditional classroom instruction.

  • You study your lessons whenever you like on your computer, tablet or phone.
  • You use marginally useful time to study and avoid the possible lost-opportunity cost of a scheduled seminar.
  • You stop when you want and return to your place in the lesson later, regardless of which of your devices you’re using.
  • You don’t need to travel, sleep in a motel, or eat in mediocre restaurants.
  • You don’t have to listen to your instructor’s jokes and personal stories.
  • You aren’t tempted to eat awful seminar food.
  • You don’t feel stupid because other students know more than you know.
  • You pay a fraction of what a college or technical school would charge for the same learning content.


Blended Learning

What is Blended Learning?

We can provide blended learning which combines online learning with classroom, lab, and on-the-job training. Blended learning includes classroom agendas, knowledge tests, and job-test protocols. This combination of training methods, using a learning management system or LMS as a one-stop shop, is the most effective and economical way for building knowledge and skills within your network.

Saturn’s Blended Learning Experience

Saturn managed all technical training for the Colorado weatherization program during the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Saturn installed the LMS Moodle and branded it for the Governor’s Energy Office (GEO). Then Saturn installed 6 online technical courses, each requiring between 35 and 50 hours of effort. The purpose of these online courses was to teach knowledge necessary to optimize the benefit of more expensive lab and hands-on training. Classroom training focused on discussion and problem solving of the content covered by the online training. Online and classroom training provided students with a consistent level of knowledge to the lab and hands-on training.

Saturn provided both technical and administrative online training to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Development (TDHCA) for two years during ARRA. Saturn installed the LMS Moodle and branded it for TDHCA. The courses supported classroom and hands-on training for new and existing employees of the Texas weatherization program and utility conservation programs.

Saturn worked with the Indiana Housing Department on a training and certification program designed to train 200 new energy auditors before they were hired by Indiana’s weatherization agencies during ARRA. Saturn first registered candidates for a technical literacy exam, which Saturn created, administered, and scored. Candidates, who passed the exam, enrolled in Saturn’s 45-hour energy auditor course. Applicants who passed the online course moved on to classroom, lab, and hands-on training by the Indiana Community Action Association (INCAA). The innovative part of this collaboration is that the hiring agencies never hired or even met the candidates until they were fully trained.