I-CAR Temporarily Converts Some ‘Live’ Classes to Virtual, Offers Discounts

I-CAR Temporarily Converts Some ‘Live’ Classes to Virtual, Offers Discounts

I-CAR is taking a variety of steps to help the industry at this challenging time, CEO John Van Alstyne said during an online presentation in May.

Alstyne acknowledged and apologized for the technical problems and other delays I-CAR has encountered in recent months as it worked to complete a multi-year overhaul of its curriculum, internal IT systems and recognition programs.

As a result of that and fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, I-CAR has extended renewal dates for many of its 8,359 Gold Class shops and 32,610 Platinum Individuals. Those with renewal dates between last October and April of this year have until July to complete renewal requirements; those with renewal dates between May and September will have until the end of September.

Because I-CAR has halted its live training, including its hands-on welding certification program, through at least mid-June because of the pandemic, Platinum and Gold Class renewals through September will have their welding training and certification requirement deferred to their 2021 renewal date.

As of now, Gold Class and Platinum renewals due in the last quarter of this year are not being extended, and will include the welding training and certification requirements.

Van Alstyne said the more than 20 insurers and automakers whose programs include Gold Class or I-CAR welding training and certification requirements have been informed about these changes.

I-CAR is temporarily offering a number of its “live” courses usually held in classrooms or shops as “virtual” classes; they are still led in real time by an instructor with whom students can interact, but transmitted online instead.

Van Alstyne said I-CAR recognizes the limited seating for many of these classes recently has been “sold out,” and the organization is currently recruiting and training more instructors for those classes. But attendance is limited in order to allow “some level of engagement” between the instructor and students.

“If you have too many students in a ‘virtual’ course, that negates the ability for that instructor to engage with the students,” Van Alstyne said. “So we have to find that happy spot of meeting demand but also being able to complete the learning objectives in an effective manner as well. That’s why we have some caps on those courses.”

He said the previously “live” courses temporarily being offered as “virtual” will convert back to in-person courses in classrooms or shops once I-CAR begins offering live courses again.

“Our curriculum was designed to be delivered in a certain manner to optimize the learning experience and conveyance of the [information],” Van Alstyne said. “We determined that the courses that were designed as ‘live’ were best delivered as ‘live.’ But our review [in response to the pandemic] was that some of those courses could be delivered virtually without any significant compromise in the learning objectives. That said, we didn’t convert every live class to virtual. And the ones we did, we do intend to take back to ‘live.’”

He said I-CAR as of late April had resolved technical issues that may have led some students to have browser issues that impacted their ability to view some virtual classes, though students should use the Chrome or Firefox browsers, not Internet Explorer.

“If any student does have an issue with a browser or accessing any course, please have the student get in touch with our customer care group,” Van Alstyne said. “They can help navigate through any kind of peculiar browser settings that might need to be adjusted.”

In addition to other changes, I-CAR is offering a price break on its Gold Class subscription packages. Subscriptions enable a shop to have unlimited access to much of I-CAR’s training for a monthly fee based on the shop’s employee count.

“There’s a big value equation there because if you have turnover, you don’t have to pay again to train the new techs,” Van Alstyne said.

Current subscribers could choose between getting one month free or three months deferred billing, Van Alstyne said. Shops signing up for a new subscription by the end of June will get a 15-month subscription for the price of 12 months.

Other discounts on training courses or packages are also detailed on the “Industry Relief Program” page of the I-CAR website.

“We’re trying to demonstrate a little empathy for what everybody is experiencing out there,” Van Alstyne said, noting I-CAR itself has made “significant expense reductions” including layoffs and early retirements affecting about 21% of its staff, as well as “compensation and benefit adjustments across the ship.” 

John Yoswick

John Yoswick is a freelance writer and Autobody News columnist who has been covering the collision industry since 1988, and the editor of the CRASH Network... Read More

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