Creating an Environment for Distance Learning

Finding the right technology increases course offerings dramatically for AMS

Challenge
Find a new distance-learning platform that could facilitate rapid expansion of distance-learning courses.
Solution
Chose an efficient, straight-forward platform that allows quick content creation and easy navigation by learners.
Companies are always looking for ways to increase productivity and efficiency and reduce overhead. Advanced Management Services (AMS), based in Canton, Mass., helps clients work toward these goals by offering consulting, training and assessments in professional development, business analysis, business development and project management. The company provides several different training delivery formats, such as on-site, live online through AMS Virtual Classroom, self-paced online through AMS On-Demand.edu, podcasts and blended versions that combine aspects of all four formats.
AMS works with clients from across the U.S., Europe and Asia that range from small local companies to pharmaceutical giants like Merck, investment and insurance companies such as The Hartford, as well as government agencies, including the U.S. Defense, Energy and Transportation departments and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Efficient Course Development
AMS puts a great deal of effort into creating course content that goes beyond simply repeating what can be found in textbooks. Course instructors and developers frequently include multimedia elements along with additional material, much like what a live presentation might introduce in the classroom. This multi-dimensional approach keeps learners engaged and also addresses different learning styles within each lesson.
Even though AMS has a catalog of 300 different training courses, it had only seven available for distance learning. CEO and founder Phil Ventresca says this was due to its former distance-learning platform, which was unable to easily convert the existing programs.
“The previous platform required the use of numerous subject-matter experts who essentially had to write the course three times to incorporate multiple styles of learning content,” says Ventresca. “We needed a platform that was more efficient and straight-forward so that we could create quality content more quickly and provide an experience that allows learners to learn, not worry about how to maneuver through the course.”

On the Fast Track
When AMS began researching a new system for development and delivery of distance learning, it had several key priorities:
>> a turnkey solution
>> streamlined course development
>> a proven track record
>> full tech support
>> ease of use
In addition to meeting all these criteria, the Blackboard system has enabled instructional designers to use templates that can be uploaded to quickly create learning modules. This has streamlined course development and greatly reduced the time required of subject-matter experts.
End-users’ experience has been improved not only by the intuitive interface, but by added features that enhance learning. A pre-test determines learning areas in which an individual needs extra help and automatically customizes the lesson to stress those areas. AMS also uses the Blackboard Electric Blackboard function to post the “problem” areas as a reminder that the learner can refer to as he or she progresses through the lesson. This is part of the company’s philosophy of providing “real learning,” rather than simply a means to receive a certificate for completing a required course.

Number of Courses Up
The ease and speed with which AMS can develop online content using Blackboard ProSites has increased the number of courses available for distance learning from seven to 125, a jump of nearly 1800 percent.
 “It all comes down to providing a less expensive way to publish our intellectual property,” says Ventresca. “And now we can, thanks to the ease of using Blackboard technology, the available tech support and the flexibility [that] it gives us to be creative in our instructional course design. Blackboard ProSites will significantly enhance our ability to service our global client base.”

—To learn more about Blackboard ProSites, visit www.BlackboardProSites.com or telephone (888) 719-6123. To learn more about AMS, visit www.amsconsulting.com or call (800) 266-6177.

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