Courseware is on the right road

May 12, 2021 0 Comments

first_img Comments are closed. Courseware is on the right roadOn 1 Jan 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. ICLknew coaching its 4,000 staff to high levels of IT accreditation was a tallorder – particularly as many employees spend much of their time out of theoffice. Sue Weekes looks at how they achieved the mammoth taskIt’s fair to say that IT professionals are probably at their happiest whensat with their noses fixed to a computer monitor. However, it would be wrong to assume that this means an e-learning programmedoesn’t have to work hard to get their attention and retain their interest(Opinion, page XVIII). Obviously, their technical savvy means they have a huge natural advantageand affinity with the medium, but the course structure, content and deliverymechanism must still adhere to the principles of good e-learning if it is to besuccessful. In 1998, IT solutions provider ICL embarked on a programme to train 4,000staff to become Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers (MCSE) and MicrosoftCertified Solution Developers (MCSD) by 2001. It was to be one of the biggestcommercial IT training accreditation projects in Europe and, if successful, fitout ICL with the world’s largest accredited workforce. In mid-2001, it hit the 4,000 target and came out the other side of itsmammoth task not only older and wiser, but with a robust e-learninginfrastructure in place that continues to train staff in this particularprogramme and further upgrades. Implementing such a programme helps, of course, when you own a trainingcompany – KnowledgePool – which is seen by many as a pioneer in the field ofe-learning and has the benefit of a 35-year heritage in training anddevelopment, particularly in the area of IT. It wasn’t just the scale of the project that provided both sides with achallenge, but also the fact that ICL has a high proportion of mobile workers. The organisation was predicting that by 2002, 35 per cent of its employeeswould be mobile or remote workers. “We have an extremely nomadic workforceso the main issue we faced was one of mobility,” says Paul Lynch, directorof ICL’s Microsoft Accreditation Programme. As it was, the MCSE and MCSD courses and exams are certainly no easy ridefor anyone trying to fit in study as well as a day job, let alone if they’respending a high proportion of time on the road. For the MCSE, students are required to pass four operating system exams andtwo elective exams that provide a valid and reliable measure of technicalproficiency and expertise. The operating system exams demand that individuals prove their expertisewith desktop, server, and networking components, while the elective examsrequire proof of expertise with Microsoft BackOffice products. MCSD students are required to pass three core exams and one elective exam.The core technology exams require individuals to prove their competency withsolution architecture, desktop applications development and distributedapplications development. The elective exam requires proof of expertise with Microsoftdevelopment tools. ICL also encountered the perennial problem of finding the time to releaseemployees from their work to do the training. “We did this by creatingbottom-up demand in the organisation via publicity and top-down alleviation viaa budget for managers to cover the ‘opportunity cost’ of having staff ontraining rather than fee-earning,” explains Lynch. To meet the needs of such a nomadic and constantly in-demand workforce,KnowledgePool, worked closely with its parent company to create a programme ofblended training, which combined online study with an instructor-led revisioncourse prior to the final exam. Courses sit on ICL’s Learning Gateway inside its Café VIK (Valuing ICLKnowledge) employee portal. “To stimulate students, the courses are highlyinteractive, providing practical, hands-on experience through simulated testsand exercises,” explains Paul Butler, CEO of KnowledgePool. “The technology-based training [from NETg] includes a trainingmanagement system enabling students to bookmark parts of the course and toselect tailored training programmes.” Courses allow students to study module by module when they have time,although they are usually given a completion deadline, to give some structureto their study. Students in the Microsoft Accreditation Programme can choose either to studyfor an hour or two daily, or if they prefer can embark upon the fast-trackcourse, studying full-time (six to eight hours per day). The latter method doesinvolve intense time-scales and is less popular due its lack of flexibility. On the other hand, according to MCSE student Des Bredbury, “Beinggranted the dedicated time was a big help as for me, this exercise required 100per cent dedication.” A major factor contributing to the success of an e-learning programme isensuring that support is always available to students, especially given thefact that they are often accessing the course material on their own and outsideof office hours. KnowledgePool takes care of this with an interactive secure area on itswebsite that students can access via an individual MAP password. Once loggedon, they can access 24-hour, seven-days-a-week support from MicrosoftAccredited tutors. Daily interactive chat sessions are held in this area andthere is access to bulletin boards and e-mail. It’s also the place to receivefeedback on course assignments. In addition, Café VIK’s Learning Gateway offers community areas that can beset up by any employees to facilitate discussion on a subject. Providing interaction of some kind is vital to any distance learningproject, believes Butler because you simply can’t rely on self-motivation.”KnowledgePool has always advocated the inclusion of interactivity ine-learning. Just as students feed from the tutor and their peers in a classroomenvironment, they need that contact and stimulus in an e-environment. In myopinion, any learning that relies on self-motivation is doomed before itbegins,” he says. He also believes it’s wrong to assume that IT people are happy to alwayslearn in isolation. “It’s a myth that IT staff don’t like classroomtraining. They actually like being in the classroom with other IT people toshow off their knowledge to each other.” The inclusion of a classroom component in the MAP programme in the shape ofrevision workshops away from the office is designed to bring out suchcompetitiveness and social interaction. And feedback shows that they are valuedby the students, who are encouraged to attend one revision workshop per module.”They helped me focus on the areas where I felt less confident,”says MAP student Nick Long. “And, because they were booked for me, beforethe exam, they were an incentive to ensure I completed the modules and did somerevision in time.” The workshops range from half a day to three days in length and aretypically held one or two days before the relevant exam. In the first nine months of the programme, over 2,400 ICL employees hadregistered, including employees in the UK, the USA, South Africa, Scandinavia,Germany, Switzerland, France, Egypt, Italy, Croatia, Slovakia, the CzechRepublic, Belgium, Holland and the Caribbean, all of which were studying forMicrosoft accreditation in their own language, following the same coursecontent at the same time. Overall, the results to date show an over 80 per centpass rate. While Lynch eschews comment on return on investment because it is impossibleto quantify, he believes the e-learning programme has contributed to ICL’sattrition rate, which is 14 per cent below the industry average. “Ibelieve it has improved ICL’s perception as an employer,” he says. While clearly there was a compelling business reason to train the workforceand gain the accreditation, the programme also ties in with ICL’s widerWeb-enabled people strategies, which includes a self-service online benefitssystem, all designed to empower the workforce and enhance the company’semployee brand. The most successful e-learning projects will always be those which work forthe individual as well as the balance sheet and, with this in mind, we give thelast word to the students. “Like many of my colleagues, I went into thetraining thinking it would be easy. Well it isn’t – it’s hard work,” saysGraham Smith, who is now an accredited MCSD. “However, the sense of achievement and satisfaction on passing theexams is that much more rewarding.” ICL’s top tips 1 Have clear objectivesaligned to the requirements of the business2 Choose an experienced service provider3 Create the space in the organisation for the programmeIn summaryICL’s approachICL’s requirement: To train4,000 staff to become accredited Microsoft engineers and developers.Why? ICL is one of the leading IT solutions companies inEurope, the Middle East and Africa, employing more than 19,200 people in 40countries. Accreditation is imperative. Is e-learning delivering? ICL hit its target of training4,000 people by mid-2001 with high success rates of 80 per cent. It’s believedthat the programme has helped enhance employee brand and contribute to theorganisation’s attrition rate, which is 14 per cent below the industry average. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Allied’s omega-3 brand on a roll

April 21, 2021 0 Comments

first_imgAllied Bakeries has unveiled plans for its Kingsmill Head Start omega-3-enriched brand as it pushes into the functional foods market.Jackie Harold, senior product manager for Kingsmill rolls and snacks, said the Head Start brand would be developed for many other products, with Allied soon to begin advertising.Speaking as Kingsmill this week unveiled Head Start rolls, aimed at children, Harold said the taste of the Head Start bread and rolls was indistinguishable from that of normal Kingsmill bread, which would continue to be sold.Production was little different from normal production, she said, apart from the need to ensure the fish-derived omega-3 did not contaminate other products.The white rolls are produced at bakeries in Cardiff, Belfast and Orpington in Kent. Packs of six are already on sale in Sainsbury’s and Tesco. Head Start bread, enriched with omega-3, launched in July.last_img read more

Warren Haynes & Gov’t Mule Announce Webcast For ‘Dark Side Of The Mule’ Red Rocks Super Show

March 2, 2021 0 Comments

first_imgThis Friday, September 14th, Warren Haynes will make a huge return to the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre with a three-set super show. Warren Haynes will open the show with a solo set followed by a traditional set from Gov’t Mule. Finally, the night will culminate with the only “Dark Side of The Mule” performance west of the Mississippi. “Dark Side of The Mule” is an audio and visual spectacular which will see Gov’t Mule performing some of Pink Floyd‘s most iconic and beloved songs—a perfect pairing for the stunning setting of Red Rocks. Tickets for Red Rocks are available here.For fans who cannot make it, Gov’t Mule has announced that the super show will be streamed live via TourGigs. Fans can tune in at 6:30 (MTN) / 8:30 (EST) to catch all three sets of music, including Dark Side of the Mule, Gov’t Mule, and Warren Haynes (solo)—with the stream coming in at over six hours of music! For more information, head to TourGigs.last_img read more

Watermelon Variety Testing

January 17, 2021 0 Comments

first_imgResearch by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences could help Georgia’s watermelon growers produce sweeter results.UGA vegetable horticulturalist Tim Coolong conducts variety trial testing on watermelons as part of his work on the UGA Tifton Campus. He is researching the productivity and quality of multiple watermelon varieties tested at different locations and in various conditions statewide. Georgia farmers transport the bulk of the state’s watermelon crop in bin containers, so they rely on Coolong’s research to tell them how different varieties stack up. If a sweeter, more productive melon is developed that also meets farmers’ demands, they’ll be more likely to embrace Coolong’s research.Last year’s seedless watermelon varieties trials yielded promising results, Coolong said. The seedless melons produced excess fruit with decent size, very good quality and little hollow heart, which can downgrade a watermelon’s marketability. “We really like to see how the varieties break down as far as 36-count, 45-count. Size of the 36-count melons is usually about 18 pounds to about 21 pounds on average. A lot of our growers really need that information if their contract is primarily for 36-count fruit,” he said. “If a farmer’s contract is for 45-count fruit, they need to know if this variety will produce a majority percent of the fruit in the 45-count range.”Strengthened by an almost $144 million farm gate value in 2013, according to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, Georgia’s watermelon crop tops the state’s list of most productive vegetables. Watermelons accounted for 14.4 percent of the state’s vegetable crop, topping bell peppers, sweet corn and onions. Georgia’s top 10 watermelon-producing counties by value are Berrien, Colquitt, Cook, Crisp, Dooly, Telfair, Tift, Turner, Wilcox and Worth, all of which are located in south Georgia.Coolong credits south Georgia watermelon farmers for the rise in the crop. “If you could pick one vegetable that’s grown over a wide area in south Georgia, it would be watermelon. It’s grown in Dooly County, down to Lowndes County, over to Wheeler and into Toombs County,” Coolong said. “We have a lot of acres.”Georgia’s watermelon farmers will hear more about Coolong’s research and will receive updates about the watermelon industry at this week’s Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center. Coolong is one of multiple UGA scientists and Extension agents who will speak at the event, set for Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 8-10.“This is the largest produce-related trade show and educational program in the Southeastern United States. It allows growers to network with colleagues, see new products and step in to any number of educational programs. Because of the diversity of programming at the conference, it allows growers to get updated on what they are already growing as well as attend sessions on different crops to see if they might want to grow something new,” Coolong said.last_img read more

School Ship Pueyrredon

December 20, 2020 0 Comments

first_imgBy Dialogo April 01, 2011 The Argentine Coast Guard training ship Pueyrredon (built in 1897), pulled into port in New Orleans, Louisiana on October 7, 1941, with 515 officers and men aboard for a five-day goodwill visit on a training cruise. Acquired for £782,000 ($1.2 million) in 1898 from Italy, the 8,000-ton ship was purchased by Argentina to patrol the waters of the South Atlantic at a time when border disputes with Chile still prevailed. The Pueyrredon made its first voyage as a “school ship” in 1918 under Commander D. Pedro Gully, with visits to Brazil, Puerto Rico, the United States, Mexico, Cuba, Panama, Venezuela, Barbados and Uruguay before returning to Buenos Aires. Pueyrredon was permanently classified a “school ship” in 1932 and used for an applied course at the Naval Military School until 1953. The 1941 voyage included stops made in the 1918 trip as well as ports of call in Costa Rica, Colombia and Aruba. Between August 30 and December 14, 1941, the ship traversed 14,700 nautical miles.last_img read more

DEC to LI: Help Us Poll Furry Wildlife

December 18, 2020 0 Comments

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Have you seen a grey fox, like the one above, on Long Island lately? If so, the state would like to hear from you (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service).Calling explorers of Long Island’s great outdoors: New York State is asking the public for help surveying the region’s furry mammals as a part of a new program to document local wildlife.The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is crowdsourcing its nature poll on LI and in New York City of seven species that often prove elusive: Gray fox, river otter, weasel, mink, skunk, coyote and beaver.“Citizen science efforts provide our wildlife managers with valuable data and give people the opportunity to partner with DEC to help monitor New York’s wildlife resources,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said.The effort is a more open-ended version of likeminded volunteer “bio blitz” flora and fauna surveys that have recruited the public in Nassau County over the years.When someone spots one of the seven species the state is interested in learning more about, the DEC asks that observers write down the physical description, location, type of habitat and take a picture—even if the animal is dead.The data can be uploaded to the DEC website here.The DEC is not interested in reports of common species such as red fox, raccoons, muskrat and opossum.For more information on how to tell the difference, visit their website, or call the DEC’s Region 1 wildlife office at 631-444-0311.last_img read more

Suffolk Pols OK Ban on Microbeads

December 18, 2020 0 Comments

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Suffolk County lawmakers this week passed a bill that phases out the sale of personal care products containing microbeads—tiny plastic balls designed to exfoliate the skin but also negatively impact the environment.County legislators Tuesday unanimously passed the measure, which phases out the sale of products containing microbeads over the next four years, giving manufacturers enough time to develop alternatives.“Today’s vote puts Suffolk County on the right side of history and nature on this issue,” said Legis. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), who introduced the bill with Legis. Steve Stern (D-Huntington).New York State lawmakers have proposed similar legislation and two other counties statewide have passed likeminded laws. Another bill like it is being debated in Congress. And in June, Illinois became the first state to ban the sale of cosmetics containing microbeads by 2019.Suffolk’s bill follows a similar timeline. If Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone signs the bill into law, the phase-out would begin in January 2018 for personal care products not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and allow an additional year for ones that are.The bill was proposed amid growing concern that microbeads, which are often less than 1 millimeter in size, have been found to soak up toxic chemicals on their way through sewage treatment plants. And because of their tiny size, they aren’t filtered by sewage plants—instead washing into waterways locally and nationwide, including the Long Island Sound.“A clean face should not mean dirty water,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, who backed the bill and described microbeads as “tiny toxic sponges.”Microbeads, made of polyethylene and plastic, are found in everyday personal care products such as facial scrubs. Once they absorb toxic chemicals and wash into waterways, they’re eaten by fish, resulting in contamination up the food chain. Esposito said the toxic chemicals that attach to the microbeads have been linked to ailments ranging from birth defects to cancer.Consumers can avoid purchasing products containing microbeads by downloading an app that scans product barcodes, such as Beat the Microbead.last_img read more

Women and women of colour continue to change the face of Congress

November 20, 2020 0 Comments

first_imgHowever, when the 117th congressional term begins in January, an unprecedented 135 women, possibly more, will serve across both houses – with 103 Democrats and 32 Republicans voted in so far, according to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP). – Advertisement – – Advertisement –last_img

Tchenguiz scotches Pubmaster report

October 20, 2020 0 Comments

first_imgWould you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletters To access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week.last_img

IASB mulls targeted project to tackle IAS 19 treatment of hybrid plans

September 29, 2020 0 Comments

first_imgThe International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) has tentatively signalled plans to launch a research project to investigate the chances of developing a fix for the ‘accounting mismatch’ problem produced by so-called hybrid pension plans.This effort will fall far short of a wholesale reconsideration of its employee benefits standard, International Accounting Standard, IAS 19.Instead, IASB members said they would prefer to put their efforts into developing an accounting model to address plans where the benefit promise varies with the level of returns on specified assets.Eric Steedman from consultants Willis Towers Watson welcomed the move. “This workstream makes no pretence of being a complete fix to problems the IASB first took up 12 years ago but has potential to mitigate one of the most troubling inconsistencies that can arise,” he said. Aon Hewitt consultant actuary Simon Robinson added: “Previous attempts such as IFRIC D9 have failed because they highlight that a fundamental review of IAS 19 would be required.“My initial take on this announcement is that it makes a certain amount of sense to make it quite a narrow scope change in this area. It seems like a pragmatic way to deal with a very specific issue.“I would guess it is aimed at countries like Switzerland rather than the UK, and might well just clarify that the typical Swiss approach used currently is a reasonable interpretation of the standard.”A total of nine board members supported the proposal to mount a limited scope research effort into pensions.A poll of board members showed no support for a broader look at pensions accounting issues.Staff will now approach the IASB’s IFRS Advisory Council for comments ahead of finalising their work plan.If the project goes ahead, the work could start in 2017, staff said.The staff recommended against any further research on other aspects of accounting for post-employment benefits.The decision comes in the wake of the board’s formal agenda consultation exercise.Driving the demand for action among constituents is the concern that numbers produced under IAS 19 are unreliable.Staff explained that actuaries have been qualifying their IAS 19 valuation reports on the basis that they believe the resultant values are grossly misleading.For example, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants argued that IAS 19 produces bigger deficits than economically exist.IOSCO is concerned “recent developments in employee benefit promises do not fit well within the existing accounting requirements”.Board members, however, were muted in their support for the move.Mary Tokar said: “We should do nothing rather than pursue the alternative you identified. We have tried several times to have a surgical approach on only hybrid plans. We have not succeeded. We should just cut our losses.“As soon as we start talking about the accounting mismatch between [the] obligation and [the] discount rate, we’ll get people who are not in hybrid plans saying, ‘Well, we have an accounting mismatch, too’.”Her colleague Stephen Cooper added: “It would be completely unacceptable for us to do nothing on this. This has been a problem for so many years. [For] the jurisdictions it does affect, this really annoys them. It is a problem with IAS 19.“It is illogical to compound at one rate and discount at a different rate, and you get a stupid answer. I don’t think we can defend IAS 19 and say it is the right answer.”Cooper added: “I didn’t like this capped-return model when it was first suggested because it ignores the time value of the options. I accept it solves one problem, which is to get the cashflows consistent with the discount rate.“And it solves the problem of the liability’s being overstated at the moment as a result of that incorrect discount rate.”Separately, it emerged that staff have no plan to carry out a post-implementation review of the 2011 changes to IAS 19.Meanwhile, as to the board’s likely work on discount efforts, IASB director Peter Clark said: “A further question is whether we would do either a general project or … any targeted project.“Our general assumption is the board is unlikely to want to take on standard-setting projects at this stage solely on discount rates.”last_img read more