Saturday, May 24, 2008

Back to the Future: Flexibility slowly degrading

For those in the know the rules established by Exin and ISEB regarding the numbers of students that could sit in on a classroom course where in the vincinity of 16 for a Foundation and 12 for a Managers.

I will grant you that while all ATOs had access to the same creed, they were more like "guidelines" (my Pirates of the Caribbean reference).

APMG came along and those rules/guidelines disappeared. I personally spoke out against the move, as I felt having the guidelines in place ensured candidates wouldn't end up learning ITIL in a lecture theatre of 200 people.

However, it appeared that APMG didn't really take that into account. Until now.

In a 180 degree the ITIL Qualifications Board has reintroduced the studnet to teacher ratio. The ratio applies to courses at the Intermediate level (Lifecycle, Capability and Managing Across the Lifecycle) - and the magic ratio is 12:1.

12 students requires 1 teacher.
13 students requires 2 teachers... !!!!

This is where I get perplexed at the lack of common sense.
You add an entire additional resource for one student??.. not only is that NOT good teaching practice, it isn't good business practice.

Where my children went to school there wasn't a full time resource to help out with the class. There were staggered support arrangements based on the class size and any special requirements of the children.

Why not adopt some guidelines that I suggested several years ago that adds teaching resource, following a similar patter, in a sliding scale.

For example, 13 students requires, 1 full time on site resource and 10 hours of a remote resource. 14 students requires 1 full time on site resource and 15 hours of remote support. And so on and so on until for example 18 students requires two full time on site resources.

Perhaps that was too hard to work out !! Has anyone at the Board looked at their childrens schooling system and thought that the concept is essentially the same - just different content.

The 12:1 ratio does come with a small dose of "flexibility". If an ATO wants to run a course with more than 12 students (at the Intermediate level) you need to seek express permission from the Examination Institute that certified the ATO.

On the flip side of this minor oversight the wording in the release clearly states "An additional trainer will be required for classes over 12 students". My point here is APMG are now doing what I felt they should have done all along. Make some decisions and put some rules in place.

There is way too much "open for interpreation" in this entire industry and it only serves to frustrate and confuse.

For those who are keen of mind, I can see your next question already... "How will the APMG and the Exam Institutes police this 12:1 ratio?".

Easy answer - I would say that eventually they will move back towards the model that Exin and ISEB had working successfully, and start to have signed assessment forms or perhaps targetted interviews to those who take the exams, regarding the numbers of studnets and teachers.

The APMG also need to advise the general public about the ratio. The Public then need to see proof that an ATO has got the appropriate permissions if a course has more than 12 students and only one instructor.

Another telling factor is that many ATOs have taken advantage of the defined affiliate program. The margins in play with affiliates are tight and now all of a sudden you throw in a second resource for +12 courses and the margins disappear altogether.

Then less reputable companies start to pick up the slack, as they flaunt the regulation. Perhaps to comply they will "qualify" inadequate instructors who will literally sit in a corner during a +12 course and add no value, not even be introduced as an instructor.

Then we need to see the Exam Institutes making more and more frequent visits to the field to conduct course audits - but who tells the EIs when they are running their courses. Noone, so then APMG may decree that all courses have to be registered...

Oh - can't you just see the tangled web starting to get more and more constrictive as we slowly disappear beneath a growing pile of regulations and "guidelines".

Let's put our faith in the hands of the learned Examination Board who will also spot the risks and potential risks and adopt some of the OGCs M_o_R to manage the situation.

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