Logging on to learn

New standard for distance learning just published.

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Por Clare Naden
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While the online education industry has been evolving for some time, it was in 2020 that it took on a whole new dimension. Webinars, seminars, courses and educational programmes of all kinds exploded onto the Internet, with new technologies, expectations and trends fuelling its growth. A new ISO standard aims to put some order into the virtual curriculum, to improve both the quality and the access to distance learning for all.

ISO 29994, Education and learning services – Requirements for distance learning, provides international guidance on distance learning to ensure agreed levels of quality and transparency. It is intended to be used alongside ISO 29993, Learning services outside formal education – Service requirements, with both covering educational services not offered by traditional universities and schools.

Lili Cao, Convenor of the group of experts that developed the standard, said it is not about trying to replicate the in-person experience online, but maximizing the opportunities that new technologies and services can bring.

“Online learning offers a valuable opportunity to bring education to more people, including those who have difficulty accessing traditional face-to-face services, due to mobility or financial barriers,” she said.

“This new standard intends to facilitate the development of this industry towards better-quality programmes and improved access. It is also intended as a tool to facilitate continuous improvement in the industry, and we welcome feedback on user experiences so that we can make it is as effective as possible.”

ISO 29994 provides criteria that will assist learners to evaluate distance learning services and provide regulators and certificate authorities with an international reference.

The standard was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 232, Education and learning services, whose secretariat is held by DIN, ISO’s member for Germany. It can be purchased from your national ISO member or the ISO Store.

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