With the economy crisis' s waves going to hit the Telecoms Land hard, most of the Installation & Maintenance contractors are already tightening up their investments and expenditures budgets, the Dotcom crash being still present in their memories.
The key difference between today and 2000 : there are people at the other end of the fiber. FTTx Fiber-To-The-Whatever is a reality now. And despite the forthcoming yet unpredictable downturn, Telcos, Utilities and Munis are keeping their fiber networks' rollouts plans on. Shifting some deadlines here, downsizing the network's scale there, but the goal is still : "we must deploy fiber" - see the recent announcement (link in french) by the french government.
That means that there is still huge business to come for the I&M contractors. The question is : how to train their technicians to build and maintain State of The Art fiber networks, whilst their budgets will be close to nothing ? Answer is : Re-invent the way we do training. Since quite a while, Installation companies don't send their techs for a 5-days hands-on session anymore, so it's going to be even worth now. Except for a few very specific technology or product training, they won't go off-site. They will ask for on-site (if not in-house...) training, as short as possible to not keep the techs away of the field for too long time. Today, a 3-days session is the standard for novices to become OSP Outside Plant technicians. Tomorrow, it's going to be 1-day (you get the idea).
We Fiber Vets all know that you don't become a true capable Fiber Install guy in a day. You have to practice at least a week. Hence the business case : how to provide a 5-days hands-on in just one single day. The solution : let's come to the Technician. Provide him with the training he needs when and where he needs it. Welcome to Fiber Training 2.0.
Today, we can get the relevant info we want when we want it, no matter where we are : it's called The Web. Let's use it. Do the shift from the old-fashioned way : the powerpoints, the lectures, the 20-people class-room, to the Web 2.0 one : audio and video podcasts on iTunes, training video clips on YouTube, photos collections on Flickr, discussion groups on Facebook, etc.
That's what a couple of Old-Timers, including myself, are working on. See here what Jim Hayes and his FOA Fiber Optics Association is currently offering. I'm also working on such tools. See here for instance, and here. Soon to an iPhone/iPod Touch near you : fiber news, photos, videos, and one more thing (and more ;-).
Of course, nothing virtual will ever replace the real world. You won't learn how to splice two fiber strands together with a video only : you must put your hands on the fibers, the cleaver, the splicer. It's like becoming #1 in Tennis : you won't beat Federer just watching his matches on YouTube ;-)