From the participation of Editorial de Contenidos in Education Week 2016, we met its valuation on the new legislation that will regulate the scheduled training for companies to be financed through the Tripartite Foundation in Spain.
Regulating Scheduled Training
This assessment was obtained based on interviews with inspectors, the Foundation, and different organizations. Although the final regulation of scheduled training is pending to be published, 80 or 90% of it will coincide with the statement made by Arsenio Sánchez, CEO of the IOE Group and Member of the Board of Apel, during his interview with LearningLovers.org:
Current State Of Legislation
“Right now, we have some legislation that refers to how online training and professional certificates have to be, and partly to what has so far been subsidized training for training plans.
For scheduled training there are no rules. Right now, what we know is that there is a Royal Decree approved in the Council of Ministers on December 15th, 2015, but it has not been published in the BOE, due to the situation of lack of new government in Spain.
There are ongoing consultations with state lawyers on whether they have legal capacity to publish this Royal Decree. The truth is that until recently, they thought it was possible; the draft is fully developed.
As these are very technical issues, it probably will end up being published. There is consensus in Parliament; it comes with a lot of endorsement even from previous governments.
This Royal Decree comes to say that online training will be regulated regarding scheduled training for businesses, including everything which is considered subsidized training at all what refers to the design criteria of accessibility platforms, etc.”
What Happens In Practice
“In practice, this training is being inspected by the technicians from the various public employment services in each province. On one hand, we have more or less formalized criteria through the platform of the Tripartite Foundation. Especially, we count on the criteria that each of the inspectors will apply whenever they inspect one of these courses.
At the moment, what is happening is that there is great legal uncertainty, because each inspector, depending on which province he or she is (there are offices in different provinces), is interpreting the criteria very differently.
Today, the vast majority of the platforms that are operating in the market will not comply with the rules. Certainly there are rules for plans supply, but it is also true that until now they have not delved much into the inspection of training, except for some known cases, because the energy of the inspection was focused on other areas.
So far, there was also distance learning, which is no longer financed since January 1st, 2016, so inspectors focus now on this type of training. This is when they begin to convey what their criteria are, and there we encounter that are very different, when in fact the online companies have no borders, i.e. giving equal training to a student from Salamanca that to a student from Girona or a student from Seville. Depending on which province each inspector is, this way they will interpret it.”
“Right now, what we have done has been to be gathering some ideas that have been sent by the individual investigators. Also, as we are part of the Directors of the National Association of suppliers of e-learning (APEL), what we finally have done is sitting with other recognized companies in the sector to convey this matter to the Public Administration. We even have personally handed the manager of the Tripartite Foundation; surely we’ll get to Sepe.
We have been collecting this amalgam of interpretations, trying to guide how it would be normal for this to be regulated, especially so that there is certainty. So I think we have now an idea of where the regulation will go, always with some margin for the Administration to interpret things one way or another, but I think we have a unified approach, along with another set of actors in this sector.”
On The Content
Interactivity Of Content
“There is a little problem: The public administration tends to say that accessibility standards for general disability should be applied, but these regulations do not clarify if accessibility has to be on the platform or on the content. On the certificates of professionalism, it is mandatory.
In this section, we believe that indeed it will not be mandatory for the content, now that we are talking about training adapted to the company, to be systematically prepared to be accessible by people with disabilities. The platform itself, yes.
This is an observation we do; if not, the public administration will not differentiate between content and platform, and then we’ll have a big problem: This is because the contents will not be massively and totally ready, because in fact only a very small percentage is prepared for accessibility. The truth is that there are also tools: For example, blind people have text conversion tools to turn text into sound.
What is also defended in general by companies is that there must be a diversity of content, because it is a training that must be adapted to the needs of the company and there has to be quality. Therefore, everything that looks like PDF, rich text, interactive books, and all this kind of stuff, will not be prohibited to upload to the platform, but they will also not be able to compute as meliorated online training.”
On The Workload Of Content
“There are different criteria for inspectors. There are some who say that if an online course is 50 hours long, the student would have to be connected to a certain percentage of hours in relation to the workload of the course. We have requested the Administration to establish that the student should be logged at least 15% of the time in relation to the total duration of the course. The Administration may say 20% or even 25%, which is a criterion that also many inspectors have.
Students can download content; it is a practice that sometimes the Administration advised. Here we have the problem that if students can download content, then they will not connect to the platform, or they will not connect for the minimum time for the course to be validated. This is one thing we’ve noticed. Now the solution is to give content to students to download when they finish each lesson, or each item, or each unit, and at the end of the course.”
Regarding The Structure Of The Course
“The courses will have to have an index, a structure, so you can see which parts are being taken, which are finished, which are pending. Everything related to including videos, audio, to enrich training, is optional. Any multimedia content will always punctuate.”
“The training must always have the copyright to be used. It must allow content to be incorporated at least in part by the teacher on the platform, with some editing capability, for example in case studies.”
Regarding The Obligations Of The Tutor
“It will be necessary that the teacher has a degree of at least the same level of what he or she is teaching, and some experience as a trainer. Teachers also need to demonstrate experience in the ability to handle platforms. Their general functions will be the attention of students, encouraging participation, solving doubts and issues…
At follow-up, it is more than likely to request the tutor a maximum response time for each question to be answered. Maybe it could be a three days period, depending on the complexity of the course. For example, there are masters that could be subsidized, where the teacher spends more time with the student; not every single day, but every three days.
There should also be a minimum follow up of the student for every 20 hours of training. The Administration has been very clear when it comes to regulating this punitive law, which says it is a serious offense to give an inadequate monitoring by the trainer. This is what the rules announce, but they do not tell us what is an inadequate follow-up, so a company does not know what it is (if the teacher has to be available so many hours, if it has to be correlative hours, if they have to follow up on this or that way…). You may think you are doing well, so that is why we request to regulate it according to the criteria that is more or less clear: It should be a minimum follow-up every 20 hours.
Typically, monitoring is also registered by the platform itself, although we will fight so that telephone follow-ups would also be counted as valid. This is something that any inspector would like, because they want to access the platform and see everything there, so they do not have to be asking for papers. They say you should put an appeal to present the necessary documentation in the Tripartite Foundation and that it will be decided there, but the criteria to be followed are unclear and that is why we requested for it to remain regulated.
There are other things that are clear, as the prohibition to take more than 80 participants simultaneously.”
Regarding The Student
“There is one thing regulated: The student must make at least 75% of controls assessment and visit 75% of the content. That’s something that was clear. There will be a time control connection, which probably will be around 20% of the total duration of the course.
What if the student does not finish the course on the right date? There may be a problem if it is delayed a little in relation to the date it is notified. Here, yes, there are different criteria. The Tripartite says that if the student completes the course a day later, the course is canceled. This is a problem, because if a course is completed later, there is a notification that termination is accompanied by a serious fault.
What we have asked the Tripartite is to mark a small reasonable time, and while the student is not finished, we cannot terminate the training, but it is true that the trend will be to avoid flexibility. Maybe it opens in some cases if the student has an incident or he/she gets sick while taking the course, or something like that, and then yes, you could slow the course down a little. But we do not expect there will be much flexibility.”
As For The Evaluation
“As for how the evaluation is done, it depends on the criteria of each inspector. Although it is marked that the student has to spend 75% of controls, it is not indicated how many controls are needed. This is another thing that is a big mystery. There will be a tendency to have some kind of questions every hour or every two hours of study, which will often be at the end of each topic or each unit. If a unit, for example, has 20 hours of study, at the end of that unit there should be at least 10 questions. These 10 questions should be a not self-assessment, but rather questions where students have a limited number of responses.
A question of development might be equivalent to 5 test questions and a practical case could equate to 10 multiple choice questions. It is required to have a system of equivalence with different evaluation formulas.
There will be a type of very simple basic questions per learning hour, or less simple training, every two hours. The questions of development or practical case would equate to a number of those questions.
All this will have to get register on the platform: All results, tests, grades, student responses…”
“Right now, the Tripartite still says you have to have forums, chat, working groups… It is clear that platforms should have these, but in scheduled training, where often there may be just one student isolated with a teacher, yes; we will ask not to be required to open a forum or chat in each of the courses, but the platform should have these tools.
The platforms need to have flexibility for adapting educational content to the needs of businesses with scalability of the system, in the sense that the platforms need to have a guarantee of continuous operation seven days a week, maintaining a security check, transferring capacity with a minimum bandwidth of 100 MB, and supporting a number of visits at least equivalent to that of students participating in the platform, with simultaneous connection of around 20%. If an academy has 200 students, at that time the platform should be able to provide simultaneous access to 40 students (although we know that, in practice, the percentage of matching students is quite low). The Administration will ask to be superior, but the truth is that the confluence of students is much lower.”
Accessibility Of The Platform
“The platforms will have to have an AA accessibility.”
“Yes, you have to have the possibility of having forums, online tutorials, frequently asked questions and answers. You are also required to have tracking tools:
- The platform has to be able to record the state of progress, the total advance, the connection time for each of the participants and each of the connections.
- It must obtain reports of the different tools and elements that visitors have used at the platform, as documents, lessons, assessments, messaging, communications report with tutors, report assessments, and qualifications.
- It should show the users who are online.
- It also includes, as requested by some inspectors, and some platforms should be adapted to this, the online CV of each teacher.”
“Then there are other things, like:
- The license for use of the platform.
- Platforms should contain no publicity of the forming or manufacturer.
- That the public nature of funding gets to be of public awareness.
- Platforms should have a brief summary of sections, with the tutorial on the platform.
- Platforms should contain an individual training plan per course, recording the specific dates for that student and for that course.
- There must be a help manual, a manual of use of the platform for students.
- It should also be a small platform management guide for teachers, student administrators, and managers.
- Typical data protection requirements.
- Technical support to respond to anything in a maximum of two working days.
- And then installing different types of access profiles for the administrator, the teacher, the participant, and the technician of the public employment state service, with a specific profile for inspection.”
“As for the tools you need to have in the platform, issues such as messaging, calendar, evaluations, help, documents, transcripts, and the tutorial are collected. Right now, we are being requested as mandatory tools the forums, chat, wikis, or even a virtual classroom for videoconferencing, which is a fantastic tool, but ultimately it is voluntary.
Then the issues that have to do with tracking, for later inspection:
A little problem is that the vast majority of companies work with content from other companies, with licenses that expire after a year. Inspectors are requesting access to the platform the following year, when courses are gone. What is proposed here is that it gets to be regulated, so the platform gets to be accessible until January 31st of the next year, although we believe that the Administration will ask it to be open at least until March 30th. This is something that has to be regulated to avoid this insecurity. The solution requested by the inspectors is to have all information available on paper after closing the course.
There is something else that is also important in terms of inspection, and that is something we have requested, because it is also a little problem: A fellow of the association told us that sometimes their platform discharges the inspector, teacher, and students profiles, and has a standard registration system which records what the student, the teacher, and the inspector does. And they have realized one thing: Of every 100 inspections they are reporting to its customers only one, and there are fears that they may be negating training activities wordlessly. So one thing we have asked for, which is a right given, is to be notified when you have done an inspection.
This is a diagram of how it can be. Royal Decree must first be published on the first day of the new government, because it is ready and has been seen by technicians, officials, and people who know it, and it has a very large political consensus. At the Congress of Deputies, all parliamentary groups agreed to approve the Real Decree, based on the law of September 2015, to review what the employment system reform is, and this Royal Decree goes with the same spirit in which it was approved by Parliament. It will be immediately published after the start of the legislature and after these details will get defined at a ministerial level. These details are not in the Royal Decree, which says that it is going to be regulated.”