GM Training = Automotive Instructor Training

GM Training… GM Training? I’ve been talking about this for a while now, I guess I should explain what it is, and why we do it. Twice a year as part of NOVA Auto’s function as the Centre d’Expertise for the English sector, we host professional development seminars to help keep Quebec’s English speaking Automobile mechanics teachers current with new technologies. This can include but is not limited to:  tools and equipment; procedures for dealing with today’s vehicles; and of course new vehicle options and how to diagnose and fix them should they fail.

We held such a seminar on Friday, November 27th. Our guest instructor for the day was Randy Scott. Randy is the lead G.M. Automotive Service Educational Program Instructor at Algonquin College.

The purpose of this particular seminar was twofold. New model features for the 2016 model year were discussed. The new stuff out there is amazing! What’s more, options that were considered high end not too long ago are now showing up across the board. The second point of focus was Air Conditioning Systems diagnosis, their gasses, and their controls. Although A/C systems are not new by any means, their diagnosis has changed, and as you might imagine more reliant on scan tools. This is where things got interesting for our group 🙂

It seems like a strange time of year to be talking about A/C, but the truth of the matter is that if your car has an A/C system there is a good chance that it’s on during the winter but you’re just not aware of it. True story, of the three jobs the A/C system on a car has, (Dehumidify, Cool, and Clean the air) the most important one is dehumidify. On many cars, simply switching on the front defrost turns on the A/C system in an effort to put the driest air possible on the windshield to help clear it faster. Often in this mode, the A/C light will not turn on even though the system is operating. This is also the reason why many cars do not allow the “recirculate” function when in the defrost mode.

In a recent Facebook post I mentioned that we tried a new technique to get the information out this time. Here’s what we came up with, and why. The challenges: large class size; the need for hands on training to reinforce what was covered during theory; the lack of product familiarity on the part of most of our attendees (new cars, new scan tool, new service information); and the amount of time we had available to make sure everyone had a chance to learn. The solution? Divide and conquer! 🙂

After our most recent Service Pedagogical Day we learned that the tactic that we used is a modified form of “Learning Tables”. As we usually do, we had several stations around the shop for our groups to learn about; what was different was who was teaching. Five of NOVA Auto’s instructors stayed late into the evening the day before and came in early the day of, to become experts. Basically, we had a private class with Randy where we learned the ins and outs of each station and it was up to us to lead our peers through them. This worked out well for several reasons: Randy Scott had more one on one time to spend with each attendee; the groups were smaller; and because the participants were led through the exercises they spent more time on task and less time trying to learn unfamiliar equipment.

When asked afterwards, the attendees seemed genuinely pleased with the day and felt they had walked away having learned valuable information and techniques they could share with their own students on Monday.

Derek Stacey (Auto Mechanics teacher)


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