National, State, and Provincial Perspectives on Distance Education in Operator Certification
Abstract:This paper discusses various national, state, and provincial perspectives on distance education as it pertains to treatment plant operator certification and continuing education. The Association of Boards of Certification, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Water Environment Federation, the American Water Works Association, and the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators provided their perspectives from a national level. State and provincial perspectives were obtained from certification program officials from 39 programs. The national organizations contacted advocate operator education utilizing all means deemed appropriate by individual certification programs to meet the diverse needs of today's operators, including online distance education courses. They mentioned several advantages to online programs but cautioned potential users to consider the disadvantages as well. Of the 33 certification programs surveyed that require an operator to complete a certain training course or courses prior to becoming certified, 85 percent have approved traditional written correspondence courses for the initial training, but only 58 percent have approved online distance education courses. Eight-six percent of the programs requiring continuing education have approved both traditional and online courses for that purpose. Even though these programs are allowing their operators to utilize online distance education courses, they cited evaluating the plethora of courses now available as their biggest challenge. These programs also listed several advantages and disadvantages of online distance education courses to themselves and the operators. Because most programs surveyed accept distance education courses for initial training and continuing education, one can deduce that the advantages to the programs and the operators outweigh the challenges and disadvantages.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2006-01-01
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