Leveraging Technology for Hybrid Professional Training

Idaho Rural Water Association
Boise, Idaho



Ida­ho Rur­al Water Asso­ci­a­tion (IRWA) trans­formed its train­ing offer­ings from a trav­el-heavy, in-per­son mod­el to a tech­nol­o­gy-first approach that serves both local and remote par­tic­i­pants. Lever­ag­ing video con­fer­enc­ing tech­nol­o­gy to broad­cast train­ing pro­grams pro­vides mem­bers more oppor­tu­ni­ties to access the learn­ing required to move their careers forward.

Neurilink Pro­vid­ed IRWA AV Solu­tions for:

  • Con­fer­ence Room
  • Train­ing Room
  • Full Office- cell phone ampli­fi­ca­tion, acoustics & sound (click here to learn more)

About Idaho Rural Water Assocaiton

Ida­ho Rur­al Water Asso­ci­a­tion (IRWA) is a 501©3 non-prof­it which pro­vides tech­ni­cal assis­tance, train­ing and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive voice for the ben­e­fit of Idaho’s drink­ing and waste­water util­i­ty sys­tems. Their mem­ber­ship con­sists of over 350 direct mem­ber systems.

In 2020, IRWA moved from their exist­ing space to a new facil­i­ty in Boise. Their pre­vi­ous build­ing was about 2,600 sq. ft. includ­ing the ware­house, and their audio visu­al tech­nol­o­gy con­sist­ed of a pro­jec­tor in the con­fer­ence room.

The Challenge

The IRWA team trav­eled across the state to pro­vide train­ing pro­grams to their mem­bers. The IRWA team would host the same class in two or three dif­fer­ent parts of the state in the same week. IRWA’s rur­al focus paired with Idaho’s vast geog­ra­phy meant sig­nif­i­cant hours were required for travel.


Fur­ther­more, cer­ti­fi­ca­tion reviews (required for licens­ing) were host­ed one time per quar­ter in dif­fer­ent parts of the state, giv­ing oper­a­tors a sin­gle oppor­tu­ni­ty to par­tic­i­pate local­ly. If they had a sched­ule con­flict, they would have to trav­el to anoth­er part of the state for the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion review a few months later.

The con­tent IRWA teach­es is dynam­ic and often hands-on. Their col­lab­o­ra­tion tech­nol­o­gy con­sist­ed of a tra­di­tion­al audio-only con­fer­ence sys­tem, there­fore pro­vid­ing class­es remote­ly was not an option.

acoustic panels

A Pre-COVID Answer

IRWA received a grant for their new facil­i­ty which includ­ed tech­nol­o­gy-con­nect­ed con­fer­ence rooms and a new train­ing cen­ter to offer hands-on instruction.

Even before COVID, IRWA had real­ized the val­ue of video col­lab­o­ra­tion and planned it into their new space.  They approached us to design and install their con­fer­ence room AV tech­nol­o­gy. We devel­oped a solu­tion uti­liz­ing the Zoom plat­form, which lets IRWA con­nect their team for staff meet­ings. They also use the sys­tem for meet­ings between their staff and board mem­bers who are spread out across the State.

Ini­tial­ly, the new train­ing room facil­i­tat­ed in per­son, class­room-based edu­ca­tion. Par­tic­i­pants would move to the ware­house for the hands-on por­tion of the training.

The ware­house is equipped for demon­stra­tions and fea­tures a ful­ly charged water line. IRWA could final­ly host train­ing in their very own facil­i­ty instead of uti­liz­ing oth­er city buildings!

Then COVID hit.

The Long-Term Solution

Like all of us, COVID brought a new set of cir­cum­stances IRWA had to nav­i­gate. How could they con­tin­ue offer train­ing and appren­tice pro­grams, since trav­el­ing to Boise was no longer an option?

Think­ing on their feet, the IRWA team applied for a sec­ond grant, this time for tech­nol­o­gy. IRWA came to us to design a func­tion­al, easy-to-use solu­tion that would enable them to piv­ot to a hybrid train­ing model.

The train­ing room solu­tion is designed for pre­sen­ters to train both in-room and remote par­tic­i­pants in the same ses­sion. The sys­tem fea­tures dual-dis­plays, allow­ing those in the class­room to see both the con­tent and remote atten­dees. Pro­fes­sion­al speak­ers, micro­phones and cam­eras enable the in-room atten­dees to col­lab­o­rate with those remote participants.

In addi­tion, a third dis­play was mount­ed at the back of the room. This empow­ers the pre­sen­ter to bet­ter engage with in-room and remote atten­dees simul­ta­ne­ous­ly. Instead of ref­er­enc­ing the podi­um lap­top or dis­plays on the wall behind them to stay on track, pre­sen­ters can see their pre­sen­ta­tion on the wall in front of them. A cam­era is mount­ed next to the dis­play so the pre­sen­ter can speak to both the in-room and remote atten­dees with­out sac­ri­fic­ing the learn­ing expe­ri­ence of one of the groups.

The ware­house space acts as an exten­sion of the train­ing room, accom­mo­dat­ing over­flow should the need arise. When this is nec­es­sary the presenter’s con­tent and video is shared from the train­ing room to the ware­house via Zoom. The ware­house can also serve as an inde­pen­dent meet­ing space where train­ers per­form live demon­stra­tions of water treat­ment cas­es over video.



More opportunities for operator certification and other training:

IRWA pre­vi­ous­ly host­ed cer­ti­fi­ca­tion reviews quar­ter­ly in dif­fer­ent parts of the state. This gave oper­a­tors a sin­gle oppor­tu­ni­ty to par­tic­i­pate local­ly and pre­sent­ed sched­ul­ing con­flicts for some members.

Now, oper­a­tors have more oppor­tu­ni­ties to attend the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion review and oth­er train­ing ses­sions- giv­ing them the option to choose the one that works best for their schedule.

Expanded reach for apprenticeship

Training Room

Set yourself up for success

Tak­ing the leap to a tech­nol­o­gy-enabled train­ing pro­gram was no small feat. IRWA CEO, Shel­ley Roberts, met with sev­er­al dif­fer­ent orga­ni­za­tions before mov­ing for­ward with the plan. Her rec­om­men­da­tion for those explor­ing train­ing solu­tions is to learn what tech­nol­o­gy options work best for your orga­ni­za­tions. “The vir­tu­al tech­nolo­gies cat­a­pult­ed us into a new area. They’re work­ing bet­ter than antic­i­pat­ed, so don’t be afraid of it,” said Roberts.

She also talked about the val­ue in find­ing an AV part­ner who offers a ser­vice agree­ment. While she did men­tion it took awhile to ful­ly embrace it, our Elite ser­vice pro­gram is now an impor­tant com­po­nent to their ongo­ing adop­tion and user expe­ri­ence. “If we have a prob­lem we call [Neurilink] and they con­tact us right away. The response time is real­ly good.”

Neurilink also assist­ed IRWA with a vari­ety of full-office solu­tions includ­ing cell phone ampli­fi­ca­tion, acoustic pan­els and sound mask­ing. To read the full case study click here.