Blended Learning Benefits Truck Operator Training at Suncor

Too often, haul truck operator trainees don’t retain enough of the knowledge they learn during training. That can lead to longer on-boarding cycles, lower productivity and potential safety problems in the mine. Blended learning – providing training via multiple modalities using a highly structured, building-block approach – shows a lot of promise in addressing this challenge (see Blended Learning: A More Effective Model for Haul Truck Operator Training by Chuck Frey of VISTA Training).

Training challenges facing mines

Computer-based training alone is not an effective method for training equipment operators. Because a large amount of knowledge is transferred to trainees in the form of a “mind dump” they have difficulty retaining what they have learned when they transition to field training. That, in turn, can lead to longer on-boarding cycles, as well as procedure and safety concerns.

Field training at many mines isn’t as structured as it needs to be and relies on experienced operators to pass on their knowledge. At best, operator training is inconsistent; in the worst case, bad habits or inaccurate and unsafe practices are passed on to the new hire, which are difficult to correct.

Haul truck operator training at some mines is very equipment focused. Trainees learn about operator controls, how to conduct a pre-use inspection, and learn far less about how to perform critical tasks safely and efficiently.

A potential solution: blended learning

Blended learning holds significant potential to address these training and operational issues by utilizing multiple training modalities to deliver training. It recognizes that adults have different learning preferences. Some of us are predominantly visual learners, while others are auditory or kinesthetic (or hands-on learners). A blended learning curriculum utilizes a variety of media that address all of these learning modalities.

Typical components of blended learning
suncor truck

  • Computer-based training modules.
  • Instructor-led training sessions.
  • “Check your knowledge” questions to verify that trainees have retained what they’ve learned, and provide trainers with feedback on where remediation may be required.
  • Structured on-the-job training activities, which provide trainers with instructions for conducting exercises and activities that build trainees’ skills. These tools also provide trainers with assessment tools they need in order to provide meaningful, targeted feedback to each trainee.
  • Job aids and performance support tools that trainees can use to maintain a high level of
    performance long after the training is over.
  • Illustrations, animations and video are incorporated in the computer-based training to demonstrate critical skills and operating scenarios from a variety of perspectives.
  • Computer-based lessons that include Interactive problem-solving scenarios – “What would you do in this situation?” – that engage trainees and challenge them to apply what they’ve learned in realistic and challenging situations.
  • Computer-based lessons that include experienced operators who share their knowledge and best practices.


The payoff for blended learning can be significant. Not only can it improve mine safety, it can also have a substantial impact on the bottom line. In its pilot of the blended learning haul truck operator training curriculum from VISTA Training, Suncor experienced a 50% reduction in incidents and a 3.5% productivity increase.

VISTA Training partners with EduMine to provide its blended learning technology for operator training as part of the Campus+ training package (see Training for mining has moved to a new level).

Simon Houlding was Vice-President of Professional Development for InfoMine Inc. He founded Edumine in 2000, and was responsible for this InfoMine division which provides learning and training programs to the global mining industry until 31 October 2017. He is a professional engineer and author.

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