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Bringing high-quality education and training to the learner

For the more than one million learning service providers (LSP) worldwide, ensuring consistently  high quality will remain an issue. A year ago, ISO technical committee ISO/TC 232, Learning services for non formal education and training, started to address this with the publication of ISO 29990, an International Standard that is gaining much awareness and interest, particularly among LSPs.

ISO/TC 232 is intended to create a suit­able framework for preparing standards in education and training. The term “ learning services ” is used instead of “ educational services ” to encourage a focus on the learner and the results of the process, and to emphasize the full range of options available for delivering learning services. This includes the learning service provider (LSP) enabling and facilitating learning beyond teaching.

ISO/TC 232 is open to standards propos­als from other areas of learning that share the concern of encouraging cooperation in quality assurance. Here, there is emphasis on exchanging models and methods and establishing common criteria and principles.

The core elements are : ensuring the quality and effectiveness of the educa­tion or training; improving knowledge transfer ; and increasing the transparency and comparability of the range of learning services provided.  Standards are designed to help LSPs improve their ability to consistently provide quality services, improve organi­zational effectiveness and reduce costs. For stakeholders, the benefits are world­wide comparability, enhanced transpar­ency of learning services offered and higher quality. The standards will help to overcome the huge variety of national service and management standards in learning services.

ISO/TC 232 is focused on the following main objectives and priorities :

  • Enhancing service quality in the field of learning
  • Enhancing the comparability and transparency of learning services
  • Optimizing LSPs’ business processes
  • Maximizing LSPs’ organizational effectiveness
  • Protecting learners’ rights
  • Reducing the possibility of discrimi­nation and technical trade barriers in transnational learning services caused by using national standards.

Introducing ISO 29990

ISO/TC 232’s main achievement is ISO 29990:2010, Learning services for non-formal education and training – Basic requirements for service providers, published in September 2010. ISO 29990 specifies basic requirements for education and train­ing, including learning, learning results and improvement, the learning service and the competence of the LSP.

This International Standard aims to cre­ate a general quality model for learning services. It also acts as a common reference for LSPs and their customers for planning, developing and implementing education and further education, as well as promoting development.

The standard follows a linear structure to ensure its implementation leads to continual improvement.  The standard’s ultimate aim is assuring the implementation of high-quality tutorial programs and processes. The starting point for the development of educational offers is determining individual and company-specific learning needs.

When designing learning services, suit­able methods and instruments have to be found and the specific responsibilities of the learner and teacher must be defined. It is also important to identify instruments for the support and supervision of the learning transfer. The curriculum must take into account modern learning ideas, methods for the promotion of individual learning processes and flexible learning forms.

When rendering learning services, the inclusion of learners, their information and orientation is important for learning success. Learning resources and the learn­ing environment must be adequate to meet learning objectives.

Monitoring is used to compare clearly defined success factors, learning results and the feedback of the learner and other interested parties. It is the basis for the evaluation and improvement of the learn­ing service.

Language learning

ISO/TC 232 has started to develop a series of standards with special requirements related to ISO 29990. The first standard in this series will be ISO 29991-1, Language learning services for non-formal education and training – Specific requirements for service providers.

CNIS, the China National Institute of Standardization, proposed this standard. Its objective is to specify in each paragraph of ISO 29990 the particular requirements for providers of language learning services. ISO 29990 provides a good foundation for language specification. Developing and implementing such a language-related standard will help to improve the quality of language training, promote the rapid, healthy and orderly development of the international language training industry, and protect learners’ interests.

This article originally appeared in ISO Focus Magazine written by Dr. Thomas Rau,
Chair of ISO/TC 232.

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