Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio December 2002 Current Issue
December 2002 Tech filesPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:


BY Bob Walters

Convenient, cost-efficient and practical ways to bring training and certification to the Web

For organizations that have to continuously train employees, electronic tools are definitely the way to go.

If you are looking to the Internet or CDs as a delivery device for educational programs, it is important to identify precise goals before investing in the migration process. Do you want to provide convenient access for research or for testing and certification? Do you want to put your conference proceedings online? Do you need full-motion video? Each of these scenarios has a different set of options there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

Following is a look at two evolving trends: building online libraries of information, and automating testing and study guides.

The single most important aspect of meetings is education providing a forum for the exchange of new ideas, research and learning. Most organizations have a wealth of information they haven’t been able to make available online. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to offer individuals, possibly for a fee, the ability to search your technical journals, presentations and publications using a sophisticated engine that would conduct a search across all documents?

Most organizations that publish their documents to the Web do so in .pdf files a very flexible compression format that lets others either read, download or print the documents as long as they have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded for free at www.adobe.com. The main limitation of Acrobat is that a sequential search only can be conducted on the contents of an open document; the capability to search across the entire library currently is not available.

Granted, a more sophisticated search requires that someone index the documents, but several tools are available that index every word in a document or publication and provide the ability to search across multiple documents or libraries. One such tool is the Libronix Digital Library Systems (www.libronix.com), which has been used extensively in biblical and religious research.

Many organizations have a certification process that involves a structured study program followed by a test. Consider the meetings industry’s Certified Meeting Professional program as an example. Classes are offered to help applicants brush up on the areas covered by the exam, but for many, time or distance constraints make it impractical to get there.

Moving such programs online could eliminate travel time and reduce study time by allowing individuals to focus on those areas they need to study. The program also would be available to a wider audience.

An example of this type of program can be previewed at TheAcademy.com (www.theacademy.com). Online are examples of the training and certification programs for the Cruise Line International Association and the Airline Reporting Corporations. TheAcademy.com offers services to build and administer online courses and also has a student-monitoring module.

Helpful information for setting up an online educational program also is available at the Teaching Portal (www.teachingportal.com).

Another option for offering electronic education is to put classes on CD. The American Society of Association Executives has just introduced a new program called Essentials of the Profession (www.asaenet.org/essentials), which consists of a series of study modules that can be purchased either as books or on CD. The program has a library of more than 500 questions, and each question is tied to a reference point in the study guides.

Bob Walters, based in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, is the founder of Phoenix Solutions and developer of MeetingTrak software.

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