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IBM, etNetworks to Broaden Educational Reach

What if taking a course from IBM's catalog of technical training was as easy as turning on the tube and saying go? With the advancement in satellite technology and the Internet, that's just what Big Blue is doing. Today the company announced a partnership with etNetworks Inc. (www.etnetworks.com), a business education broadcasting company, to launch the IBM Learning Services Network, a satellite-based learning tool.

Jeff Krider, director of offerings for IBM learning services, says the problems businesses are facing today in training their employees are numerous. The timing of the training many times doesn't coincide with business needs. Companies train their employees and then they leave. The staff themselves may learn in different ways and sending them off to a class may not be the best idea.

The IBM Learning Services Network is subscription based -- an amount of money per employee per year -- so if an employee leaves the company, another employee can assume that license and begin training. The way the service works is that an administrator will tell an employee that he has a subscription to a service. That employee can then go to the Web site and sign up and get his own password. Then the employee can check out the course catalog, order a course and take a pretest over the Web to see how much they know about the material.

Once they have the course selected they can order course materials from the Web site and they'll be assigned peer user groups to complete class assignments. For an additional fee, that employee can also gain access to a personal "e-trainer" that will give him more one-on-one instruction. Once he pasts the post-test, he gets a certificate from IBM that he passed the course.

The courses are done live through the satellite but if the employee can't make a particular day, he can download it in MPEG2 format overnight and take the course when he needs it.

Krider says the training will start out with IBM technology but intends to have a full catalog of Windows NT/2000 courses as well. Krieder explains a large interest has been for "soft-skills" courses for training management, such as "How to sell NetFinity against Compaq servers" or "How to manage a sales force."

Also built into the IBM Web site will be an "IBM University," an educational portal that is personalized to keep track of the courses and steps a student has made. "The ability to go online with remote labs and have that whole educational experience we think is going to be a real market differentiator for us," Krider says. "You'll be able to get all the education you need out of this." -- Brian Ploskina

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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