We all need standards

Setting procedural standards is the key to developing online learning and
will benefit any organisation, says Premier IT’s Ian West

If we could put the ‘what is e-learning?’ question to one side and accept that
e-learning means many things to different people, we could all then get on with

Or could we? Does it matter that there are a plethora of different opinions
on what is and what isn’t e-learning? It does if you are looking to implement
e-learning in your organisation as you need to know the content you have
selected will run on the systems you have and will integrate with your learning
management system (LMS), so that you can monitor and evaluate its success.

This is why both technical and procedural standards in e-learning are
important, to ensure an e-learning solution can be built on and developed to
meet the changing requirements of your organisation.

Current standards, such as Scorm (sharable content object reference model)
and AICC (aviation industry computer-based training committee) have been
developed to provide a foundational reference model in which learning content
and delivery methods can be developed.

Many companies own more than one LMS, and several libraries of web-based,
off-the-shelf content and custom courseware authored in a variety of different
tools. Figuring out how to make all this work together and share information
through a common database is a big challenge.

Understanding standards can assist in selecting a vendor that has staying
power in a continually changing market, while setting standards in an
organisation can encourage sharing and inter-operability.

Besides technology, there is a strong argument for standardising an
organisation’s approach to e-learning: removing the ‘e’ to re-focus on how
people learn most effectively is one option. In 50,000 years we have not
changed the way we learn, through talking, sharing and reviewing. This human
dimension of learning can be enhanced by e-learning.

The technical standards that are recognised as a serious issue in the
industry relate mostly to the creation of content for e-learning.

We believe that while learning content is Queen, it is learning context that
is King. Setting procedural standards for learning, whereby organisations can
assess each piece of learning and how it is best delivered have an enormous

It is essential to ensure the approach to learning is integrated with a
seamless path from start to learning destination, regardless of the type of
learning used. This can be achieved by focusing on an organisation’s learning
objectives and breaking them down into those that can be most effectively be
achieved through traditional instructor-led training (ITL) in the classroom and
those that are better suited to e-learning.

Delivering standards-based content with the right mix of ILT, live
interactive online learning and self-paced e-learning is the key to a
successful learning experience.

Ian West is chairman at e-learning integrator Premier IT


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