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Quality Assurance for Certification Courseware

Finding quality courseware goes a long way in making the best of your certification process.

Have you ever stood before the wall of computer certification books at your local bookstore and wondered, "Wow! How will I ever know which one to choose?" Or perhaps the overwhelming number of vendors offering online certification training has you stymied. Rest assured: you are not alone. Nor are you alone if you have laid out hard earned cash for a book or computer-based training (CBT) that just didn't deliver what you thought it would.

Deciding how to train for certification can be a daunting task. With over 2065 titles available from a multitude of publishers and providers, finding a good match between your chosen certification and appropriate training products can be nearly as difficult as the exam itself. Finding the right course can be downright frustrating for a student, and a matter of making the grade for an instructor.

The proliferation of certification training options has created new challenges for certification vendors as well. "Our CRMs [Customer Relationship Managers] were nearly overwhelmed with calls from the field asking whether a particular course was appropriate for one of our certifications," confesses Lutz Ziob, vice president of certification at CompTIA. The need to create a method to help certification candidates, instructors and institutions identify and compare courseware products that facilitate CompTIA's certifications had become apparent. "As an industry leader, we wanted to take responsibility and provide a means for CompTIA candidates," says Ziob.

For CompTIA, the solution was the creation of the CompTIA Approved Quality Curriculum (CAQC) program. The program establishes a review process for CompTIA-related certification courseware, and provides a standard by which qualifying courses can be recognized for their superior attributes.

The standardized testing of candidate courses is conducted by ProCert Labs, which performs a similar service for the Linux Professional Institute (LPI) LPI Approved Training Materials (LATM) program.

Both of these programs and the associated testing processes were created to help certification candidates identify quality courses that lead to certification and beyond. "Clear, logical courseware is essential for a student to succeed in their education, whether the course is self-paced or instructor-led," says John Towsley, acquisitions editor at Global Training Solutions. "Good Courseware will do more than just help the student pass the exams-good Courseware will teach them tips and tricks that will prove invaluable after the course.

"Obviously, good courseware is also invaluable to the training center that purchases it. It helps them deliver an effective learning experience," adds Tina Bush, product manager for certification at ElementK.

And perhaps most importantly, any coursework necessary to earn a certification isn't just about passing exams, it's about skill enhancement. "The best courseware ensures that you will not only be certified, but also have the ability to apply what you learn on the job," says Jamie Sene, vice president of marketing at SmartCertify Direct. Quinn Sutton, vice president of marketing at TestOut agrees; "Courseware allows the individual to gain the knowledge and skills they need to be successful on the exam and in the real world. Good courseware will help them determine what they already know and create a recommended learning path based on what they need to learn."