25 Feb, 2013

Refreshing courses 20% each year – to stay 100% relevant.

As the technical training manager for Mobil Oil, I hired world authorities on many subjects to teach our employees. Over the years, as we monitored course evaluations, I learned that it takes more than just a world class reputation to provide a valuable learning experience. Unless you refresh the content of a course regularly, it will go stale very quickly – regardless of who’s teaching it. As technology advances, the course has to keep up to remain relevant.

I’ve been a PetroSkills instructor for six years, and I’m putting that principle to work. I teach a course on Basic Geophysics, which is aimed at geologists who are getting involved in using seismic data as a communication tool, and another on AVO, Inversion and Seismic Attributes. That one’s designed for seismic interpreters.

This involves teaching on both a basic level and on an advanced level. But despite that contrast, the biggest challenge for both of these presentations is keeping up with technology that is changing very rapidly. Why is it changing so fast?  In our end of the business, technology change is tied directly to computer power.  Now, think about that five-year-old laptop of yours. It’s essentially obsolete. That’s how fast the technology is moving.

To keep up with the technology, I apply a Twenty Percent Refresh Rule for the courses I teach for PetroSkills. In other words, 20% of each course is updated each year on a rolling basis. And each course is essentially new every five years.


DONALD MACPHERSON has been involved in all aspects of geophysical data acquisition, processing and interpretation. He had a long career with Mobil Oil company working in Calgary, Dallas, New Orleans and London. Throughout his career, he has participated in teaching courses in the technical aspects of geophysics and has always had a keen interest in bringing clarity and understanding of the tools of the trade to people that become involved in using and interpreting seismic data. He was the manager of the Mobil’s Training Department in Dallas as well as the principle lecturer in the geophysical courses. He received a MSc. in Geophysics and Isotope Geochemistry from the University of Alberta.

AVO, Inversion, and Attributes: Principles and Applications - AVO
Basic Geophysics - BGP