Software that measures the effectiveness of multimedia courses has been donated to the international, non-profit-making IT Training Association.
Developed by online training specialist NETg, the ECG, or training electrocardiogram, can be applied to all online courses. NETg hopes it will promote the creation of industry-wide standards for online training materials.
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"Customers should be able to test e-learning for effectiveness, just as they would assess a live trainer," says James L'Allier, research and development vice-president at NETg.
NETg developed the ECG by comparing the effectiveness of many courses using measures proved in research, theory and practice. Independent instructional design experts have endorsed the measurement methods.
The software looks at the levels of engagement that courses provide - a mechanism that research shows is key to all learning processes. It plots factors such as engagement, feedback, and pre and post assessment.
Results are shown as graphs similar to those in a medical electrocardiogram used to show heart rate. This enables training specialists to judge quickly whether a course will be effective.
The company is talking to other industry organisations to ensure the ECG gets wide distribution, although the UK Institute of IT Training is not taking it on.
"We would not promote this tool to our members," says chief executive Nick Mitchell. "We have our own published standards for e-learning materials, which have been adopted by the University for Industry, by qualifications body Edexcel, and many others. We feel that these give prospective buyers sufficient guidelines to procure quality products."