Learning & Development | Instructional Programs

Adult Learning, Blended, Innovative, Virtual, Acclaimed

For more than 50 years, IHRDC has delivered highly acclaimed, instructional programs for energy professionals, in both live and virtual formats, by combining our strong faculty with blended learning resources. Programs are designed around Adult Learning Principles to be engaging, enjoyable, competency-focused and, most of all, allow learning to be internalized at the highest level.

What Are the Adult Learning Principles?

Adults learn best from each other rather than from a trainer; 
– when they are actively engaged in the learning process, 
– when they are dealing with real problems – the more real, the better – and 
– when solutions to problems have practical and immediate application in their jobs.

What Are the Essentials of Adult Learning Programs?

Learning Objectives Integrated 
with Competency Development

Adults seek to build competency to perform their jobs and advance their careers. Program learning objectives should be aligned to job competency needs as defined by competency models.

Pre-Course Learning

Pre-course learning, including e-Learning and Case Study assignments, help to bring all attendees to a common knowledge base before formal sessions begin.

Experienced In-House Instructors and Mentors

Experienced instructors and mentors must have deep industry experience, strong communication skills, be able to stimulate discussion and have empathy for learners.

Crisp and Meaningful Lecture Content

Lectures must be crisp, meaningful, current, well-illustrated, filled with practical examples and multimedia content.

Action Learning: Serious Simulation Games, Case Studies, Board Games, and Practical Assignments

Learners must be engaged in teams, up to one-half of the time, in challenging activities that enhance learning like simulation games, realistic project assignments and/or discussion of case studies and team-based blended Action e-Learning assignments.

Assessments and Feedback

Assessments stimulate attendees to participate actively in the learning process, enhance their internalization and provide feedback to sponsors for making improvements to the program.

What Are Some Action Learning Options?

Serious Simulation Games

Serious Simulation games, built around challenging and realistic scenarios, allow teams to internalize lecture content by making a series of decisions under uncertainty. Their performance can be based on financial results and/or the quality of team presentations. Offering a team prize motivates attendees from the outset.  

Case Studies

Case Studies are an essential form of learning for many academic and adult learning programs. Attendees read a case study, which asks “What would you do under these historical circumstances?”They then meet in small teams to extend their knowledge and come to class prepared to answer the leader’s questions. Cases are engaging and offer an implicit form of learning as opposed to explicit lectures.

Board Games

“Board Games” challenge teams of learners to prepare a presentation of their company’s projects, value chains, supply chains, process and/or financial flow, and associated resources. The graphical flow elements are placed in the center of a template and teams of attendees prepare and place around the perimeter, electronic cards that explain the attributes of each project, facility, or flow element. The teams then present the completed board document to management to demonstrate their understanding of that sector of the company’s business, project, or process. 

Onsite Demonstrations and Actual Job Assignments

Attendees can integrate lectures with a field demonstration, for example, go to a field site with a mentor to observe and describe the components of a piece of equipment. It may even consist of an actual job assignment, for example, to prepare a drilling or workover plan, or similar, on-job assignments, to gain a deeper practical understanding of a knowledge item, skill, or process.  

What Learning Delivery Formats Are Available Today for Instructional Programs?

“Live” Learning Formats

Public Offerings

Attendees and instructor travel to designated location for day-long sessions, typically from one to five days. Attendees, from multiple companies, can network and share experiences. Content is specified by sponsor. Attendees pay individual course fee, travel and living expenses. An engaging and face-to-face format allows new friends to spend time together after hours.

Private Offerings

Instructor travels to a designated company location and teaches full day sessions, typically from one to five days. Content can be modified to fit the needs of contracting company. Attendees can network and share experiences with fellow company employees during and after class. Contracting company pays course fee, travel and living expenses of the instructors.

“Virtual” Learning Formats — No Travel for Instructor and Attendees.

Virtual Mentored Learning (VML)

Flexible weekly arrangement to carve out learning session during the work week: Individual pre-reading in the form of e-Learning or case study (two hours/week), followed by mentor sessions to discuss topic (one hour/week), and team participation in simulation game session (one hour/week) with team presentations delivered at end of programs. Programs run 4-6 weeks.

Virtual Courses (VC)

Delivered in the traditional lecture and assignment course format on a virtual basis with a convenient daily and weekly session followed by team assignments  (2-5 hours/day) . Team presentations of simulation games or assignments are made during or at the end of programs. Keep in mind that, for virtual learning to be effective, you must have a variety of learning formats – continuous lecturing leads to inattentive attendees!

What Constitutes Effective Virtual Learning Programs?


Robust Learning Platform

The delivering company needs a robust Learning Platform that provides access to all learning resources: lectures, simulation games, case studies, e-Learning, learning objectives, attendee registration, team assignments, team presentation templates with expectations, program surveys and assessments.

Access to a Delivery System with Team Rooms

The sponsor must have access to and manage Zoom and Microsoft Teams, or similar web-meeting products, with sufficient bandwidth to enable instructors to communicate with, see and share documents with attendees and visa-versa.

Communicate with Attendees

Make clear to attendees what is expected of them to successfully complete the program. Remind them of upcoming sessions in advance of each session.

Kick-off Session

Schedule a kick-off meeting to summarize the program plan and make sure the meeting times are acceptable. Set out goals and objectives, successful completion requirements, allow teams to introduce themselves, and answer any questions.

Effective Instructors and Mentors

Effective and committed instructors who can generate discussions among participants, and mentors who can guide teams with action learning assignments.

web Access to lecture materials

Learners should have web access to lectures for their longer-term use.

Recording of Sessions

Sessions should be recorded and placed on the Learning Platform for those who miss the live event.

Office Hours

Set aside Office Hours for attendees and teams to meet with instructor or mentors to answer questions, especially for action learning assignments.


Virtual programs cannot succeed with lectures alone or multiple talking heads unless they are brief. Participants must be engaged with challenging Action Learning assignments.

Case Studies

Virtual Course

Recently IHRDC completed two virtual programs for 1050 new hires of a major West African national oil company. One was two weeks and the other six weeks in duration. A video summary of their design and delivery is available by clicking here. A shorter summary blog can be found at this link.


Virtual Mentored Learning (VML)
In a significant hydrocarbon-producing country in the Caribbean, the Ministry of Energy, with 1000 plus employees, sought quality virtual training for their employees. After review, they selected IHRDC for the breadth and depth of the offerings that covered the technical disciplines of the petroleum value chain and developmental business skills for the employees. This organization selected a large annual license option to leverage their training needs with the economical pricing offered by the license size. The client is delighted and has entered into a second yearly license for the virtual courses!


IHRDC successfully completed our first offering of the NEW Petroleum Geophysics Essentials Virtual Mentored Learning program! It included the following sessions: Overview of Geophysics; Geophysical Data Acquisition; Seismic Data Processing and Imaging; Seismic Data Interpretation; and Application of Specialized Seismic Techniques. Participant comments included: “It is a fantastic program!” “The mentored sessions were excellent.” “I gained an excellent understanding of Geophysics.” To learn how we built this VML program, read IHRDC’s blog post Creating IHRDC’s Geophysics VML Program.