No man is an island, as the saying goes, and that rings especially true in the IT trainer’s world. It’s important to find resources, networking opportunities, and places to talk with others who share your burdens. For some, membership in organizations may be the key to feeling connected. If you’re thinking of joining an IT trainers group, here’s the scoop on one non-profit organization—the Information Technology Training Association (ITTA).

The association was created in 1994 from the merger of the International Computer Training Association and the Association of Technical Education Centers. With over 750 corporate member companies, the ITTA’s mission is to shape and support Information Technology education for the future.

“ITTA sees itself as an industry leader, and we take pride in the fact that our members look to us to set standards,” said Rachel Cheeseman, ITTA’s executive director. “By remaining vendor-neutral, the association acts as a non-biased source of valuable information.”

One contribution the ITTA has made to the training industry is its collaboration with the Computer Education Management Association (CedMA) in creating the Certified Technical Trainer (CTT) requirements to eliminate redundancies among certification programs. The Chauncey Group International Ltd further developed the CTT to define and establish professional standards throughout the technical training industry.

“This cross-industry certification will provide recognition that a trainer has attained a standard of excellence in the technology training industry.” Cheeseman said.

Right place, right time: Conferences keep members linked
ITTA acts as a central location for peer-to-peer contact and information exchange; discount opportunities, professional development, advice and tips on training management, and industry news. Figure 1 shows a chart of the association’s benefits.

Figure 1: Benefits of ITTA membership

The association hosts many opportunities for face-to-face contact with others in the IT Industry. Cheeseman said its Strategies for Success event is known as “the Industry event for IT training center owners, operators, and decision-makers from all over the globe.” Additionally, ITTA offers an event called Computer Training World for those responsible for company-wide technology training initiatives, and an annual Colloquium. The Colloquium is an invitation-only event designed for executives to discuss emerging trends that will affect the IT industry.

Pat Roberts, general manager of the Custom Solutions Division at Global Knowledge Network, Inc., has been a member of ITTA since its inception. She describes the Colloquium as “a think tank type of meeting,” and a “brainstorming of the who’s who in the industry.”

Global Knowledge acquired Robert’s start-up company, PTS Learning Systems, last year. She said her involvement with ITTA “greatly facilitated” her ability to be competitive in the industry.

“My involvement with ITTA began when I started my business,” Roberts said. “I was a regional player, so you tend to look at only the requirements you see in your own backyard. My exposure through ITTA enabled me to understand a much broader array of options and services. I have come in contact with folks who are responsible for training internationally. It has enabled me to take a look at my fellow members who offer educational products that I would not normally have been exposed to. I was able to listen to their products, and participate in beta programs and partnership programs with them.

“I came to know many of the key players in the software-publishing arena. And of course in the IT education business, knowing what they’re doing and their new release schedules and new programs is certainly key in being prepared to assist with these deployments. It also gives you connections with corporate members. This gives you a connection to understand the challenges and the issues that corporations face day to day. It tunes you in to being a better listener and to being more sensitive to the challenges that they face.”

ITTA member Craig Tuller, a vice president at EarthWeb Education, echoed Roberts’ comments.

“As a former GM of training centers, I highly recommend membership and participation in ITTA,” Tuller said. “Membership provides opportunities for access to industry information, becoming active in legislative efforts that affect our industry, and also attending the events gives you a place to network both with vendors and especially peers. I was able to talk with other training providers who were not my local competition, and trade ideas, methods, and techniques.”

New site design means membership has its privileges
ITTA’s Web site is being redesigned, and Cheeseman said the new site will be unveiled later this summer. The site is still available for viewing, however some portions are not functioning at this time.

“The ChatWorld and Discussion groups are temporarily down because we feel they are a better fit in the Members Only section of the new site,” Cheeseman said. “Soon ITTA members will only be allowed in this area to problem-solve with peers right at their desktop.”

The site includes an Events Calendar and a Resource Library with white papers and other materials from conferences. This year, ITTA published the Colloquium 2000 white paper, which is currently available to the general public on the Web site. However, Cheeseman said soon it would be moved to the Members Only section.

The site also includes:

  • Press releases
  • Headline news
  • Articles from the association’s newsletters
  • Links to other sources of training news
  • Local training organizations by state
  • Links to sites with training information

The Legislative Action area of the site houses information about Washington initiatives affecting the IT industry. Cheeseman said ITTA takes an active leadership role in legislative efforts.

“ITTA is a founding contributor of the Technology Workforce Coalition,” Cheeseman said. “In early 1995, the association was instrumental in including commercial IT training companies in the federal job retraining legislation. This opened up federal funds to our members for retraining displaced workers.

“Currently new versions of legislation are being proposed in the House and Senate that will also benefit commercial IT training companies. “In many of our states there are also issues that need to be addressed.”

Looking ahead: Future benefits for ITTA members
Along with the Web site’s redesign, Cheeseman said the ITTA has much to offer its members in the future.

“Just this past spring, NETg a long-time ITTA member, presented its newly developed tool for measuring the effectiveness of multimedia training courseware,” Cheeseman said. “ITTA members will have access to the tool through the association’s Web site. As a result, ITTA will aid in developing this industry-wide standard for the effectiveness of e-learning courses.”

Due to a recent agreement between the association and CentraNow, ITTA members will soon have access to Centra Business Collaboration Network, which provides live, voice-enabled Internet collaboration.

“Members will be able to access this synchronous online tool from a community Web site via,” Cheeseman said. “In addition, Centra will support and coach members who choose to lead a meeting with this online service.”

If you are interested in finding out more about being an ITTA Member, click here to contact its membership services department.
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