UK standards for technology-based training are winning worldwide acceptance with support from leading course suppliers and Government bodies.
The standards, developed by the Institute of IT Training, cover course content, navigation, ease of use, technical quality, support, and course developers' skills, plus a code of conduct.
In the last month they have won commitment from the Government's emerging University for Industry training initiative and from qualifications body Edexcel, which incorporates BTEC and the London Examinations Board. The institute will promote the standards to more than 400 colleges and universities worldwide that are involved with its courses and awards.
On the industry side, the Association for Computer-Based Training, representing course developers and users, has signed up, and Easycando, an online access point for training organisations, individual content developers and users, is showing its commitment by displaying the institute's logo prominently on its Web site.
Meanwhile, 12 suppliers including world market leaders NETg and Smartforce, plus Harvard Business School, have either gained or are working for accreditation by the institute.
Mary Benwell, a director of the University for Industry, said the standards should bring some order to the market. "There are some excellent suppliers and products, but our review of materials currently available reveals that quality is very uneven," she said.
"Recognised and widely accepted quality standards are vital if learners and employers are to have confidence in the e-learning revolution. The institute's standards provide a robust quality framework for the industry and we will be asking all our suppliers to adopt them. This will be a phased process to give suppliers time to make any necessary adjustments to their quality systems."
John Kerr, compliance director of Edexcel, which awards qualifications ranging from GCSEs to HNDs and National Vocational Qualifications worldwide, added: "Universities, further education colleges and training providers delivering online courses throughout the world will now be guided by a widely accepted set of industry-developed quality standards."
Nick Mitchell, chief executive of the Institute of IT Training, said: "Our standards have fast become the de facto standards for the exploding e-learning area, having been adopted in the last three months by virtually all the industry's interest groups - Government, education, major user companies and leading suppliers.
"This widespread recognition of best practice means many major e-learning providers are ensuring that their product design and development meet the standards and that learners get excellent online tutor support."