In June 2020, the Eppley Institute, with the support of the Parks District Risk Management Agency of Illinois, decided to convert the Playground Maintenance Technician (PMT) training from in-person training to an online format. In-person training had been suspended indefinitely in March, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eppley Institute staff spent three months converting the training curriculum. The two-day, in-person training became 13 e-courses, with corresponding assignments and assessments to test the learner’s retention of the training materials. The 13 e-courses can be taken independently, at the learner’s own pace, and they have a year to complete the training from the time of registration.
For partners who had anticipated and signed an agreement for in-person training in 2020, the Eppley Institute offered a training cohort option. The cohort approach allows learners to complete the online training as a group over the course of three weeks, supplemented with four live webinars provided throughout to help review and reinforce the concepts taught in the e-courses. The first cohort training took place in December 2020, with more scheduled for the first quarter of 2021.