NIMS reinvents its training solutions for the future of work using Learnosity

Learnosity - Case Study - Kendra Hurt

About NIMS

NIMS helps organizations improve workforce performance with training solutions that dynamically respond to our fast-paced, technology-driven economy.

Workplace training that works

With a stakeholder base of over 6,000 metalworking companies and a stable of major trade association partners, the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) has been the standard-bearer for credentialing in the machining industry since 1995.

“NIMS validates training with practical experiences that reflect the work that employees actually face on the job,” explains Kendra Hurt, the Associate Director of Digital Initiatives at NIMS. “In today’s world, there’s so much specialization that you need to train for the job role rather than for the entire occupation.”

This increase in specialization, coupled with advances in technology, have prompted a reorientation for NIMS in recent years.

“We believe the future is short-term, specific job duty training that can stack into a masterful career. That’s why we’ve grown beyond credentialing and machining to serve advanced manufacturing in general through our Smart Training Solutions.”

Requirements

-Modernize tech stack with a flexible, future-proof assessment infrastructure

-Streamline and simplify content authoring and editing

-Engage users with accessible design, auto-scoring, and personalized test feedback

The Challenge

Modernizing for today, preparing for tomorrow

To help manufacturers keep pace with emerging technologies, NIMS redesigned its training solutions to support trainers in creating a more fluid, adaptable workforce.

Driven by the expertise of Executive Director, Montez King—a machining apprentice himself, who later moved on to work directly with the likes of Magna and Raytheon to modernize apprenticeship—NIMS rerouted its training approach from occupation-based to personalized, hands-on, duty-specific training.

“Our vision is to improve overall workplace performance through workforce development by letting employers build their own custom standards and performance measures using the NIMS framework to best fit a particular set of job duties, or to choose from our existing library,” says Kendra. “Our smart solutions are based on short-term, fully competency-based, modular on-the-job training that enables a more agile workforce.”

To do this, the team knew it needed to redevelop the infrastructure of its training solutions—an ambition initially shackled by outdated technology.

“The system we were using was old and authoring test content was agonizing,” Kendra remembers. “In 2017 we started heavily investing in technology because we needed to rebuild everything to address key infrastructural issues. Implementing Learnosity allowed us to do this as well as make a range of high-impact, long-term improvements.”

We needed to rebuild everything to address key infrastructural issues. Implementing Learnosity allowed us to do this as well as make a range of high-impact, long-term improvements.

Kendra Hurt

Associate Director of Digital Initiatives at NIMS

Kendra Hurt NIMS

The Solution

Evolving for the future of work

Having modernized its system, NIMS pressed ahead with its vision for personalized training solutions that met the changing real-life needs of companies.

“We use Learnosity to power the theory test portion of our validation,” says Kendra. “The hands-on practical performance is core, but critical thinking, problem solving, and process recognition are critical too.”

Working smarter, not harder

A cornerstone of NIMS’ technology renovation was the capacity to create rich content and deliver it seamlessly to learners using different devices.

“Learnosity gives us a lot of space to be creative,” says Kendra. “There is a copious amount of question types available, which allows us to broaden the scope of our test content with the likes of image-based questions, diagram labelling, and drag and drop.”

Yet these additional capabilities don’t come at the expense of simplicity.

“Authoring is so much more efficient for us,” Kendra says. “Editing content is far easier. Changes that previously took us hours to complete, we can now breeze through in half an hour, which dramatically reduced the workload for our team.”

Along with built-in accessibility, Learnosity’s responsive design also meant the team could deliver content to more learners on more devices. As Kendra explains:

“The responsive element is very important for us because we need to deliver assessments to learners in community and technical colleges who are using multiple devices like iPads and Chromebooks for testing. Being able to adapt to that is great.”

Authoring and editing content is far easier. Changes that previously took us hours to complete, we can now breeze through in half an hour, which dramatically reduced the workload for our team.

Kendra Hurt

Associate Director of Digital Initiatives at NIMS

Kendra Hurt NIMS

The Outcome

Future-ready flexibility

Learnosity’s adaptability has also allowed NIMS to expand its use of assessment into areas of the learning process outside performance validation.

“The anxiety of the test taking process can be an obstacle for many,” says Kendra. “Using Learnosity to deliver practice tests builds familiarity with the interface. By doing things like allowing sample tests to have the same annotation and calculation tools and using the same timer function, we can replicate the look and feel of tests so that the medium never gets in the way of actually assessing knowledge. And because Learnosity lets us auto-score our practice tests, there’s an instant feedback loop that makes formative testing way more powerful.”

A key driver of NIMS’ data-led personalized feedback for theory tests was Learnosity’s item tagging capabilities.

“The item tagging in Learnosity is fantastic. In the past, feedback was a manual process where a subject matter expert had to compare tests to identify a pattern. With item tagging, we can meet people where they are and give them exactly the kind of feedback they want at any time.”

From test practice to performance affidavits

Thanks to Learnosity’s flexible APIs, NIMS could also extend its use of Learnosity to another high-value function: migrating its paper-based performance affidavits online.

As Kendra explains:

“The end goal is to have our users take a data-driven approach, so we wanted to get them to think about doing things online. Thanks to Learnosity, we were able to use the existing infrastructure to essentially make a different type of test without needing to build another tool. It helped speed everything up—people no longer needed to print a form from our website. Everything is done online, processing is instantaneous, and it’s available 24/7. It’s convenient for them and helps us work more efficiently.”

Stepping into tomorrow

As NIMS advances along its new direction, Kendra envisions further innovation in how it uses Learnosity to keep workers job-ready and in-demand.

“Our credentials are really designed for industry and we’re evolving to fit better with how companies work. We’re looking to continuously revamp our approach to performance measures so Learnosity is a crucial part of our business. And because it’s so good at what it does, we don’t need to rebuild every year or do further development work. We just stay plugged in and reap the benefits.”

Because Learnosity is so good at what it does, we don’t need to rebuild every year or do further development work. We just stay plugged in and reap the benefits.

Kendra Hurt

Associate Director of Digital Initiatives at NIMS

Kendra Hurt NIMS