HARDI, in collaboration with HVACReducation.net, has launched an online educational campus for their membership. The HARDI Distributor Learning Network (DLN) is a very robust Learning Management System (LMS) providing a single platform that allows the HARDI organization and its membership to offer online education and related services. This effort will enhance the professional development of individuals involved with the HVACR wholesale industry and the HVACR industry in general. In providing this service, it is my expectation that the overall competitive advantage of member companies that participate in the HARDI DLN will receive a significant boost. Education is the key; accessible anytime, anywhere, education is a golden opportunity.

Learning Management System (LMS)

So what is an LMS? I pulled the definition from the Wikipedia website (a very online thing to do) and have provided it below for your consideration:

A Learning Management System (LMS) is software for delivering, tracking and managing training. LMS programs range from simple systems for managing training records, to software for distributing courses over the Internet and offering features for online collaboration. In many instances, corporate training departments purchase LMSs to automate record-keeping as well as the registration of employees for classroom and online courses. Student self-service (e.g., self-registration on instructor-led training), training workflow (e.g., user notification, manager approval, waitlist management), the provision of online learning (e.g., computer-based training, read & understand), online assessment, management of continuous professional education (CPE), collaborative learning (e.g., application sharing, discussion threads), and training resource management (e.g., instructors, facilities, equipment) are some of the additional dimensions to leading Learning Management Systems.

Database back-end. While most systems are commercially developed and frequently have non-free software licenses or restrict access to their source code, free and open-source models do exist. Other than the most simple, basic functionality, LMS software caters to, and focuses on, different educational, administrative and deployment requirements. Open source and Web-based LMS software solutions are increasingly important.

Course Management

The HARDI DLN allows efficient creation of courses and course materials. It offers standardized tools and templates for the learning and working process, including integrated navigation and administration.

Group Systems

Because of its own internal group system, the HARDI DLN allows cooperative learning and working on the platform without additional tools. You can create learning groups, working groups or groups for certain fields. You can also arrange groups to be open for everyone or have specially defined access restrictions. Other users can be invited or get access with a password. All necessary tools for the administration of group members and resources are part of the system.

  • Groups with different access settings (open or no registration, required registration, required invitation, private or public groups).

  • Administration and delivery of group resources, e.g., learning modules, forums or files.

  • Administration of group members and invitation of new members.

  • Access control, a permission setting for tools and features.

  • Construction of cascading groups (groups can contain subgroups).

Learning Content

The HARDI DLN offers multiple ways to deliver learning content. You can upload all types of document files, and the platform supports SCORM 2004, SCORM 1.2 and AICC. The HARDI DLN includes an internal authoring environment to create XML-based learning modules that can include images, flash, applets and other Web media files. It is possible to create glossaries and reuse term definitions within other learning modules.

SCORM

Once again, another trip to the Wikipedia for a definition of SCORM:

Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) is a collection of standards and specifications for Web-based e-learning. It defines communications between client-side content and a host system called the run-time environment (commonly a function of a learning management system). SCORM also defines how content may be packaged into a transferable ZIP file.

SCORM is a specification of the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative, which comes out of the Office of the United States Secretary of Defense.

Communication

The HARDI DLN supports standard ways of communication, such as chats, forums and e-mails. The personal desktop includes an awareness function that shows users that are currently online. The HARDI Distributor Learning Network can also send information via RSS to the user and displays external RSS feeds in the system.

Webcasting

Besides RSS support, the HARDI DLN offers the ability to manage podcasts. Creating a podcast is as easy as uploading an audio file to the Web. The author decides whether items are available to the open Web or within the LMS only.

Online Surveys

In the HARDI DLN, you can utilize surveys to easily collect information from a large number of users, for example, to evaluate courses or other events. HARDI DLN surveys are easy to create and administer, even for non-experienced users. With a sufficient basis of survey questions, instructors can create their own evaluations quickly and efficiently.

Test & Assessment

The HARDI DLN offers an integrated environment for the creation and enforcement of tests and assessments. You can monitor the learning progress by users as well as by tutors and examiners. The HARDI DLN Test & Assessment engine supports multiple choice, single choice, allocation questions, closed questions (free text, select box), ordering, matching, hot spot and more question types.

Authentication

The HARDI DLN supports a number of authentication methods such as Standard Login/Password Authentication (Database), LDAP, Shibboleth, CAS, Radius and SOAP-based Authentication.

Summary

In essence, the HARDI DLN is a high-level, strategic solution for planning, delivering and managing most learning events within an organization, including online assessments, online self-paced courses and online mentored or instructor-led courses and programs. The primary solution is replacing isolated and fragmented learning programs with a systematic means of assessing and raising competency and performance levels throughout a learning enterprise. For example, the HARDI DLN can simplify global educational or certification efforts, enable multiple entities to align learning initiatives with strategic goals and provide a viable means of enterprise-level skills management. The focus of an LMS is to manage students, keeping track of their progress and performance across all types of training activities. It performs heavy-duty administrative tasks, such as reporting to instructors, HR and other ERP systems.


Chris Compton is the CEO of the Heron, MT-based HVACReducation.net and GreenCollarEdu.net. Contact Chris at 888/655-4822, ext. 1117, ccompton@hvacreducation.net or visit www.hvacreducation.net or www.greencollaredu.net.