SOUTERS, who provide a wide range of training in business and legal skills, as well as business English courses, propose an office IT skills option accessible online, from students' homes. The distance learning system they have chosen is ENI's MEDIAplus eLearning, the only solution of its kind where training takes place in the application's own environment.
Founded in London in 1988, SOUTERS provide business and legal training for both private students seeking to upgrade their skills for the job market, and corporate clients preparing existing staff for new roles.
Modules in Microsoft Office applications are proposed as an add-on to every training course. "We chose ENI's MEDIAplus eLearning because it is available via the internet and because it includes assessment programmes which allow us to evaluate the new abilities our students have acquired," explains Darryl Samuels, Course Director at SOUTERS. As Office IT abilities form part of the requirements for the attainment of the course diploma, each student takes a MEDIAplus eLearning assessment test at the end of his/her training.
Students learn via the internet, from their own home or office computer, with MEDIAplus eLearning in virtual mode. "Our students have different versions of Microsoft Office installed on their computers. That is why we use MEDIAplus eLearning in virtual mode, so that they are all working in the same software installed on the ENI server," explains Darryl Samuels. "It is one of the system's advantages; the students benefit from learning in the real software environment, which is what is unique about MEDIAplus eLearning, but we do not have to worry about the software on their computers," he adds.
Students enjoy the freedom to learn at their own pace with MEDIAplus eLearning. This suits slower students as well as it suits the fastest. At the end of their training course, they retain the right to access MEDIAplus eLearning for another full year. This allows them to look again at the topics about which they are less confident.
Students are totally free to choose how and when to train, with SOUTERS staff providing technical assistance wherever necessary. "We have no problem with our students' motivation," explains the course director. "For one thing, the assessment of their office IT skills counts towards their final result, and also, perhaps more importantly, many of the people who take our courses are paying for their own training, which means that they are keen to succeed,? he adds. Motivation is also very high among students whose training is paid for by their employer, as they themselves have persuaded the company to enrol them on the course, often in view of future promotion.
"The best advice I could give to a training centre considering the introduction of this type of system would be to work out precisely what it can do in the context of the training you propose and to integrate it totally into your courses," concludes Darryl Samuels.