MST Academy students have real-time access to the Samurai every Monday evening at our live webinar "Office Hours." Sometimes it is just an open Q & A, other times it's a presentation that dives deeper into an appliance technology topic.
One of our most popular webinar formats is Troubleshooting with Tech Sheets, where the Samurai simulates troubleshooting scenarios using actual tech sheets from several real appliances to show how to kick appliance bootay the Samurai Way!
Attendees get to interact along the way, offering up possible answers to the problem scenarios and asking questions of their own.When possible, we make a recording of the webinar available to those unlucky few who can't attend live.
We call these live training webinars Office Hours and they're held every Monday evening-- details on this page.
If you're curious about what goes on during Office Hours, here's a 16-minute sample from last Monday. It shows just one of the five tech sheets that were covered in the full webinar. But this is a good peek into the teachings of the Samurai and the life of a master appliance tech.
Most modern gas ovens use a carborundum ignitor to both control the gas valve and ignite the gas. Even though these are simple systems, I've found that many appliance technicians do not have a detailed understanding of how these systems work and, as a result, there's a lot "tech mythology" out there about how they fail.
This HOT webinar recording from an Office Hours webinar with Master Samurai Tech Academy students explains the theory of operation of these systems along with a detailed circuit analysis. I also explain some of the common failure modes and show an uncommon failure mode that can leave a gas bomb in your customer's home unless you know what you're looking for.
Our weekly, live Office Hours webinars are one of the powerful, interactive features of being a student at the MST Academy. You get access to in-depth technical presentations such as this one as well as the opportunity to ask the Samurai any questions you have related to your coursework!
Online learning may seem like the new kid on the block, but it is really just a new and improved delivery format of the old “correspondence course school” model for training that has been around for over 100 years.
Online appliance repair training is a proven and effective way to improve technical skills for the right kind of student. How do you know what the right kind of student is? That's exactly what I'm going to explain in this post!
The strengths of the online training model are many:
affordable (few if any hard copies of material to produce)
However, there is one component that is critical to the success of online learning that cannot be provided by the online school: student motivation.
Of course, student motivation is a necessary ingredient for any type of education to be effective, but at a traditional brick-and-mortar school there is a regular face-to-face interaction with the instructor that can help to keep the student accountable.
At the Master Samurai Tech Academy, we do everything we can to encourage our students, to provide accountability via quizzes and exams, and to give them help when they need it. However, we are not there with the student day in and day out.
To achieve a successful outcome with the MST Academy, a student must have one of these two characteristics:
Self-motivation with a strong desire to learn (gets help when needed, works to improve test scores), or
A supervisor who is keeping a close eye on the student’s progress (more on how to do that here).
When one of these two factors are in place, then the results of learning appliance repair in an MST Academy online training course can be spectacular! When neither are in place, then the results are something less than that.
So, before investing in any online training, evaluate your situation honestly. If you are signing yourself up, evaluate your commitment and motivation to doing what it takes to achieve the results you want. If you are signing up techs who are under your supervision, set up a system where you will monitor their progress closely and intervene when necessary.
Team Samurai is dedicated to excellence in appliance repair training. Our online training courses are a comprehensive and cost-effective way to improve technical skills. And we offer several powerful interactive teaching resources to help you understand the material:
Interactive question and answer help in the Student Forums where students post questions about their coursework and we reply with additional instructional explanations. This can go back and forth quickly as many times as it takes until the student grasps the concepts they’re trying to understand. But it requires the student to have the initiative to ask a question. If the student doesn’t ask, we can’t help!
Weekly, live webinar meetings with the Samurai. We call these weekly meetings Office Hours. Think of the webinars like Office Hours at a regular school where students can drop by for extra instruction and ask questions about their course work, live and in real-time.
Manually-graded open answer questions on the Midterm and Final Exams in the Fundamentals course. These open-answer questions allow us to see inside the student’s head so-to-speak and identify more clearly how a student is misunderstanding a particular concept. We can then work with the student to resolve this misunderstanding.
If you bring your effort, energies, and motivations to the table, we have the tools in place to ensure that you WILL learn how to be a better technician!
Managing schedules (and time, in general) is a common problem, especially for people in service businesses, like ours. Everything tends to be emergency driven, and we feel pressure from the demands of customers and all the other aspects of running a business. The result of constant fire-fighting is burnout.
When we stop learning and creating, we stop growing and life becomes routine, tedious, and boring. We need to deliberately set aside time to do things that that help us grow. Recreation (literally, re-creation) is one form of this. But another equally important form is training and honing our craft, and experiencing those "Ah-hah!" moments when we gain a deeper understanding of the technology we work with every day.
It is vital that we MAKE the time for some big-picture work on our business. This is why annual training events, like ASTI, are so beneficial. Not only are you in a different physical location-- taken out of your regular work space-- but you're reuniting with old friends, meeting new Brethren in the Craft, and learning tons of cool new stuff, both business and technical.
With the Master Samurai Tech Academy, we have an additional reason for attending ASTI: to get the word out on the comprehensive, cost-effective appliance tech training that we offer online! We'll have a booth again and will be running an ASTI special, but also raffling off a free enrollment in our Fundamentals of Appliance Repair training course to anyone who stops by our booth for a visit.
Speaking of the MST Academy, a recent benefit we’ve added for our students is weekly Office Hours live technical training webinars. I’ll usually have a special presentation on technical topics of particular interest to appliance techs. Some of the past topics we’ve talked about are:
Troubleshooting Strategies for Computer-Controlled Appliances
Digital Communications in Appliance Repair
Reading Tech Sheets and Schematics
Diodes and Rectification
Split-phase motors: theory of operation, types, and applications in appliances
Voltage and Voltage Drops in Electric Circuits
Techniques for Measuring Voltage without Getting Head-Faked by Open Neutrals and Ghost Voltages
Series and Parallel Circuits
Open Q&A on Student Coursework
I conduct these webinars using Join.me, the best service of its kind out there on the web today. I can pull up schematics and tech sheets for us to talk about and use the whiteboard app to whip out some sketches and talk through circuits.
Another big benefit of doing these weekly, live training webinars has been that we've gotten a real-time look into how, specifically, students are struggling to understand basic electricity, circuits, and schematics, and we’ll add additional videos and instructional material to the courses to address these trip points. This month alone (January 2016) we’ve added three new videos to the Fundamentals of Appliance Repair training course as a direct result of the Office Hours webinars! Here’s a 2-minute excerpt from a video we recently added to the Fundamentals course:
Do you know the answer?
We posted this clip on our Facebook page and got all kinds of different answers which confirms what we already knew: there’s lots of learnin’ to be done out there in the appliance tech community on basic circuits! And if you don’t know basic circuits, there’s just no way you can effectively use schematics to troubleshoot modern appliances.
Here's a 2-minute snippet from a recent Doodlecast video I made and added to the Fundamentals of Appliance Repair training course at the Master Samurai Tech Academy. The full video is 22 minutes and I explain current flows and voltage drops in parallel circuits using Ohm's Law.
I'm having fun making these Doodlecasts and we've found that they're a great way to explain basic electricity to appliance repair technicians!
If you are enrolled in the Fundamentals course, be sure to check out the full 22+ minute presentation in Module 3, Unit 4.
And to see even more of this kind of stuff, attend Office Hours, our weekly live webinars where I use presentation tools like this to explain all kinds of electrical and troubleshooting concepts.