American Concrete Institute connects world with eLearning

Now anyone around the world is able to participate in the American Concrete Institute’s (ACI) certification training programs.

ACI, in partnership with Elsevier, Inc., developed a new online training program, ACI eLearning, which will give concrete industry professionals, the chance to take courses online and earn continuing education units. The concrete organization officially launched the initiative on Feb. 3 at World of Concrete in Las Vegas.

The program was developed as “an answer to the high demand of a program that got too large, too fast,” ACI says. “Right now, it’s just satisfying the demand for certification. But we have plans to expand it.”

This is ACI’s first international education program, which is based on ASTM and ACI documents. Currently, ACI Certification training programs are available for “Concrete Field Testing Technician — Grade 1.” ACI also says it plans to make a “Concrete Strength Testing Technician” available later this month.

A “Concrete Basics” sample module is currently available on the eLearning site.

Both courses include practice exams, demonstration videos of all tests covered in the ACI Certification programs, and a final assessment tests of overall knowledge.

In 2009, ACI plans to offer the courses, “Slab Design & Anchorage” and to expand beyond certification to include training for ACI’s technical information. By 2011, ACI says it expects 70 modules to be available in multiple learning modules.

Online courses are available through many learning institutions and the advantages and disadvantages are often debated. After seeing a demonstration of how the eLearning program works, there are some really neat features that could prove useful to those taking the courses.

A built-in calculator proves useful, and as a serial abuser of the highlighter in my print books, the bookmark feature that allows students to mark sections throughout the courses to serve as a reminder to go back and review a particular screen seems pretty neat.

Other innovative features that may be helpful:

  • Ability to link directly to a standard;
  • Two types of questions: Those that help you review material and don’t count toward scoring and the real ones that count toward the score.
  • A combination of videos, interactive questions and feedback, access to additional study questions at completion of a module, and checklists for different standards.

Upon completion of the module and a passing score (70 percent), the course taker can directly link to a certificate of completion.

When a reporter/editor questioned how the passing score was determined (at some education institutions, a 70 percent is a low D), Andrew Williams, senior publisher for Elsevier, eLearning, said that his company worked with ACI on this.

“Seventy percent is what we currently use on eLearning,” he told the reporter. “The score shows that you learned enough to get CEUs.”