E-Learning briefs (July 16, 2001)

Alexandria, Va. — In response to the proliferation of Internet-based learning programs, the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) is introducing standards for certifying Web-based training courses for adult learners. Under the E-Learning Courseware Certification program, courses would be evaluated on usability and instructional design, the two areas where users and developers say there are the greatest differences in Web-based courses. ASTD estimates there are more than 650,000 e-learning courses on the American market and that is expected to double in size over the next two years. The goal of the certification is to help users select quality products and help suppliers in producing these products.

Ottawa — Earlier this year, the Advisory Committee for Online Learning, created by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada and Industry Canada, urged all levels of government and post-secondary institutions to promote online learning at the college and university levels by developing high quality, home-grown educational content. “Canadian institutions must provide online learning opportunities or risk being left behind by global players less responsive to our local, regional and national interests, concerns and priorities,” the committee advised. Recommendations include: creating a pan-Canadian online service to develop an online learning community, increasing development of learnware applications and making access to online technology available to all learners across the country.

Alexandria, Va. — Employees have to feel good about their technical skills and see a clear value in learning goals before they can feel comfortable with taking courses online. A recent study by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) found that internal marketing of e-learning courses is also a factor in whether employees will embrace e-learning initiatives. “There is clear evidence that the context and manner in which e-learning is offered affects the employees’ receptivity, regardless of the type of e-learning of the course design,” said Mark Van Buren, ASTD director of research. The study, Learning Technology Acceptance Study: If We Build it, Will they Come?, polled employees and employers of 16 mainly Fortune 500 companies. It found that while only 38 per cent of employees said they preferred e-learning to classroom training, a majority said they were satisfied with their e-learning experiences.

Burnaby, B.C., Ottawa — Using the Internet for school work ranked at the bottom of the list among plugged-in teenagers who prefer to download music on the Web. A study of 782 British Columbia teenagers, conducted by Simon Fraser University, found that while teens spend one-third of their leisure time using new media sources, and 85 per cent have computers and other technologies in their bedrooms, entertainment beats e-learning hands down. Another study of more than 5,600 youth and 1,000 parents, conducted by the Ottawa-based Media Awareness Network, showed that two-thirds of parents mistakenly believe children use the Internet primarily for school work. In reality, as in the Simon Fraser study, kids ranked homework far down on the list of online activities.

Washington, D.C. — A joint report by the American Society for Training and Development and the National Governors Association, A Vision of E-Learning for the American Workforce, encourages an investment in online learning for the sake of the U.S. economy. “Because e-learning offers increased opportunities for attaining and developing the skills necessary for good jobs, productivity and economic growth, building a successful e-learning future should be a priority for both the public and private sectors,” said Stephen Merrill, former New Hampshire governor and co-chair of the year-long commission that produced the report. “Governors and CEOs have a unique opportunity to provide leadership on this issue,” he said.

Toronto — The Ontario Society for Training and Development and the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) have joined forces to offer co-ordinated memberships. The strategic alliance means Canadians can join both associations at once and receive a break on ASTD membership fees.

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