I want to tell everyone the story of how HeatSpring has transformed from a company that ran only IGSHPA geothermal events in 2007 into an education technology company in 2013 that has some of the top experts and companies in the high-performance building industry using our software product, Cammpus, to teach advanced technical material and leverage online training tools.
The purpose of this article is let our existing customers and readers now how we’re spending our time and to let readers that are new to HeatSpring understand where we came from.
There’s no better person to start this story than Brian Hayden.
In 2008 we certified more than a thousand geothermal and solar installers, our young company was growing, and Business Week named us some of America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs – but our operation was full of waste.
We rented expensive hotel rooms, flew instructors around the country, spent $35 on bad catered lunches, and crammed as much information as humanly possible into short seminars. Our first online course cost $37,000 for a videographer to develop and we were quickly finding that webinars were lame and inadequate for advanced technical training.
This is the story about how we stripped out all of that waste. Heavy investments in technology led to the creation of Cammpus software – the easiest way to deliver amazing technical training. Great training requires three things: a great teacher, structured content, and engaged learners. No turkey sandwiches, airports, or lame webinars required.
Here are some things people do with Cammpus:
- Build things
- Measure learning
- Teach advanced concepts
- Learn new skills
- Sell products
- Organize knowledge
Marketing, selling, building, training; Cammpus is a better way to do what you’re already doing. Here’s the story of how education technology has made us better, and how it can do the same for you. If you want to learn everything we’ve learned about creating amazing courses, sign up for our Technical Trainer Boot Camp. If you want to read our lessons learned, download our 65 page online education playbook here.
Here’s the story of HeatSpring’s Transition from 2007 to 2013
While you notice that we still have courses running on HeatSpring.com, and we will always support those courses, we’re spending more and more of our time working with other experts and businesses that are using Cammpus to leverage online training tools.
Let’s go into this transition, year by year.
HeatSpring in 2007.
HeatSpring was started in 2007 by Brian Hayden and Duncan Miller doing only IGSHPA geothermal training. Initially Brian and Duncan wanted to become renewable energy contractors, but they quickly realized that they didn’t have the necessary engineering background. Luckily, they also realized that there were a lot of people who needed training that they were in a position to help provide. They reached out to the most knowledgeable and respected renewable energy professionals in the country and helped them transform their expertise into online training. The software that they developed to support that work was the precursor to Cammpus.
Fast forward to today: Chris Williams (that’s me!) joined the team in 2010. In 2011, the three of us decided to spin off Cammpus as its own product. Keep reading to see why.
HeatSpring 2008. From $37,000 to $1,000
In 2008, HeatSpring started to experiment with online training tools. The goal was to be completely “tool agnostic” and figure out what combination of tools would be best for the students.
The first 100% online course we produced, our Entry Level Geothermal Professionals Certificate program, cost $37,000 to develop. It was worth it, but we knew there were ways to create the same level of quality at a much lower cost. Now, Cammpus customers are developing courses of the same quality for less than $1,000. Frequently, far less than a $1,000. With our Technical Trainer Boot Camp + 1 Year Cammpus Subscription, you can create your own university for less than $1,000 in 4 weeks or less.
HeatSpring in 2010
By 2010 HeatSpring had about 5,000 alumni and we were doing certification training on solar PV, solar thermal, and ground source heat pumps and experimenting more and more with online tools for both blended learning events (e.g. providing online material before and after a face-to-face gathering) and 100% online tools. At the time, the most common tool for online training was webinars. We used webinars extensively but we found them to be completely inadequate for the very technical training that we were doing.
We first developed Cammpus internally to teach our Geothermal Designer Boot Camp + LoopLink Certification. We developed it because we needed a tool that was easy to use, could integrate a lot of the features (e.g. pre-recorded video and live sessions) we needed, and would combine many of our existing administrative tasks. (Cammpus acts as an email client, event registration page, payments processing center, and student progress tracker.) By using Cammpus, we went from having to use 4 or 5 tools to 1 in order to do all the things it takes to do training: creating events (it take 4 clicks in Cammpus), sending out reminder emails (Cammpus automatically does this), tracking student progress (we can track student login dates, assignment completion, minute-by-minute video viewings, quiz completion, and average score), and the tool allows for instructors to have their own administrator access for their courses. (This means that all instructors can build and edit their courses when it’s convenient; they don’t need anyone’s permission or time, which is extremely valuable.)
HeatSpring in 2011
In 2011, we started selling Cammpus to other companies. One of our first customers was NESEA. NESEA is currently using Cammpus to build and run the Building Energy Masters Series.
Not only did we provide the software, but we provided assistance to the NESEA experts to make sure that there courses were amazing. Creating amazing online courses is a skill by itself, and we know exactly what works, so we share this with all of our customers.
The results were incredible. Marc Rosenbaum’s class, Net Zero Energy Homes, has been a true success. Students walk away from the course designing net zero energy homes for their clients, including floor layouts and energy models. Keep in mind, this type of training, IMPOSSIBLE TO DO IN A PURE FACE TO FACE EVENT at this price point and with so many students. We struck gold.
HeatSpring in 2012 “Blended Learning Gets Standardized”
By 2012, solar PV training had steadily increased to be a large majority of our professionals trainings. However, the issues with the solar PV industry is that it’s extremely fragmented and region specific. The market is different in every state and across different utilities. While the foundational technical information might me the same, the economic realities and the needs of each classes are different.. To improve our Solar Installer Boot Camp we made 100% of our courses blended learning course. This means that every student that took that class had pre-course reading material, which helped the instructor craft the class to the needs of each students. Also, they had access to all the course material for 1 year after the class.
By creating blended learning courses we enabled a few things.
- Get the basics out of the way. Face to face time is extremely expensive and often times the first half of the first day is wasted on basic material that can be done before class.
- By performing student introductions and self-assessments before the class begins, the instructor can get the know the students before the class and focus on material that’s most important to each class
- The instructor can change the content of the class to match the local market conditions
- Students have access to the material for review after the class ends, making the content much more valuable.
We know that all training cannot go online and that there are times that you cannot replace face to face interaction. However, we do that every face to face seminar can be significantly enhanced by having assignments to complete before the class and giving students access to the materials forever after the class.
HeatSpring in 2013
In 2011, we decided to offer Cammpus to other organizations that wanted to start leveraging online training tools.
Since then, we’ve started working with a number of other experts and companies. Here are a few:
- John Siegenthaler + BNP Media
- Katrin Klingenburg at PHIUS
- Training for the Trades
- Distributor Corporation of New England
- Bob Ramlow
- Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES)
- Affiliated Distributors
Why the push to leverage online tools?
The above video explains in detail the problem we faced with professional training around 2010 and how we solved that problem.
One of the fundamental questions to understand was why we decided in 2010 to start investing in and experimenting with the best way to use online training tools deliver extremely technical training.
There were a few reasons:
- Eliminate administrative time. Running events takes a lot of time. Remember, we were 3 people teaching thousands of students per year. Getting rid of repetitive tasks was key.
- We need to be able to more easily verify student learning on advanced subjects. Quizzes are okay for basic material, but when students need to learn how to design a net zero energy home, they really need to APPLY their learning. For businesses to justify an investment in training, successful application of student learning is key. You must able to show that you’ve gained a demonstrable skill.
- We wanted to increase the quality of the training.
- We wanted to provide access to the student material ALL the time, especially after the course.
- We needed to be able to decrease training costs so more students could afford the trainings.
What Does Cammpus Do? The beauty of Cammpus = Simplicitiy (no coding required) + Very Flexible + Extremely Powerful
What does Cammpus do?
Click here to watch recorded demonstrations of the core features of Cammpus. If you’d like to create a demo university for your own company, we have a free one-month trial. Click here to set it up.
Cammpus enables our customers to:
- Decrease the time and cash investment necessary to create and continuously update courses
- Increase training quality
- Decrease training costs per student
- Eliminate administrative time
- Make training information accessible to students, any time, on any device
Branding to fit your company. Remember, it’s your university.
- White label to your company
- Includes custom URL
- Accept payments and offer free courses
- Discount code creation and management
- Customize student registration information
- Set maximum student enrollment for each event
- Embed sales videos for each course
Course and Event Creation and Management
- Create a course in 5 minutes; create a new events in 5 clicks
- Seamlessly handles face-to-face events, blended learning courses, and 100% online courses
- Integrate pre-recorded video AND live Q+A sessions
- Accepts all digital media formats; videos, PDFs, excel files, downloadable tools
- No technical knowledge required to build out courses; easily and intuitively add modules, descriptions, and assignments
- Create quizzes, homework assignments, and capstone projects
- Multiple video players (video, video over slides, video and slides separately)
- Simultaneously run many events of the same course with DIFFERENT instructors in DIFFERENT locations.
Eliminate Administrative Time
- Set up automated emails for event modules, include course reminders, location details, and post-course follow up
- Print out event check-in forms
- 3 levels of administrative access: university admin, course-level admin, and event-level assistant. This allows instructors to manage course content while assistants help with the day-to-day operations and events.
Who uses Cammpus?
- Experts: We work with subject matter experts to build and sell their courses online.
- Manufacturers: We work with manufacturers to build their own universities.
- Distributor and manufacturer representatives: We work with distributor and manufacturer representatives to develop continuing education programs.
- Industry associations: We work with industry associations that must provide professional development to their members.
- Large installation companies: We work with large contractors that provide continuous education to their employees.
- Trade schools and community colleges: We work with trade schools to build out leverage online training in their work.
- Publishers: Publishers know they need to provide online training. We work with the best to move their content online.
- Utility companies’ program training: We help utility companies build and administer training for their local rebate and incentive programs.
What do they use it for?
- Creating digital copy of existing training – 24/7 reference material
- New dealer certification and continuing education
- Professional development
- Training and orientation for new hires
- Product training
- Design and installation training
- Internal policy and procedure reference material
Support for Cammpus Customers
- Technical Trainer Boot Camp + 1 Year Cammpus Subscription. Create your own university for under $1,000 in one month or less with expert guide
- Every new Cammpus customer goes through an onboarding training that covers best practices, lessons learned, and examples of other great training to help you to build your own course using Cammpus.
- We’ll teach you EVERYTHING we’ve learned, and everything you need to including syllabus creation, video production, content selection, how to verify learning, industry benchmarks for marketing conversion percentages and how to fill your classes.
- Free Course: How to Create Amazing Technical Training Videos
- You’ll have access to our video production course to learn how to produce your own high-quality videos
Instructional Design Consulting
- Full course creation
- Syllabus creation
- Curriculum licensing
- Video production
- Content transfer (converting your hard copy information into digital format)