The Institute of IT Training (IITT) has launched a series of certification tracks for e-learning professionals, following concerns about skills in the industry.
The certified e-learning professional programmes for e-learning consultants, developers, tutors and managers are based on competency frameworks developed by an advisory board which includes representatives from the Open University, national training organisation eSkills NTO and training company KnowledgePool.
Nick Mitchell, chief executive of the IITT, said that research consistently highlighted a lack of skills as the major barrier to implementing e-learning effectively.
"That includes developing a strategy for a blended solution and being able to tutor learners and motivate them to achieve the best results," he explained.
The problem is compounded by training professional "Luddites" who had adopted a defensive approach to e-learning because of concerns about their jobs, added Mitchell.
"What will really unlock the power of e-learning will be the capacity to develop your own e-learning content and roll it out effectively. But you can't rely on external companies to do that for you because they don't know your business," he said.
The certification badge would offer reassurance to companies which needed skilled professionals to roll out e-learning projects.
"A lot of consultants don't understand what they're doing," explained Mitchell. "People are dressing themselves up as e-learning consultants but, if you're going to implement an e-learning strategy for your company, you need to be really up to date with technology, products and skills."
A background in training is not essential to enrol on the courses, but the IITT warns that some understanding of the principles of learning theory, and some experience in a teaching or training role, offers a significant advantage.
The certification tracks involve more than 300 hours of online learning materials and online tutorial support, and cost between £1,500 and £2,000 each.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development already offers a certificate in online learning, but Mitchell maintained that it only scratched the surface of the knowledge needed by e-learning professionals. "It's had virtually no impact on the industry," he said.
Sheila McGovern, a research analyst at IDC, blamed a lack of customer demand for the low take up of e-learning certification. "However, a lack of standards is an issue in the e-learning market, so this is bound to be a good thing," she said.
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