Major changes appear to be coming to the way classes are delivered to RV dealership service technicians preparing for certification.
During a Feb. 17 telephone conference, the Recreation Vehicle Service Training Council (RVSTC) is expected to be asked to endorse a proposal to spend $75,000 to create an Internet-based “e-learning” system that likely would replace the current Distance Learning Network (DLN) as a conduit for classes.
Seed money would come from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), which to date has provided a $200,000 annual guarantee to finance the DLN.
Over the five years that RVIA has financed the national DLN, RVSTC will have lost a projected $88,000 that will not have been recovered from registration fees when classes end in July.
Currently the Distance Learning Network delivers 60 hours of classes over 40 weeks live by satellite and on the Internet via the RV Institute at Lake City (Fla.) Community College. The 2005-2006 session will end in July.
Whether the Florida-based classes will continue to be telecast isn’t clear. The RVSTC earlier decided that after this year satellite telecasts would be replaced with broadband Internet feeds.
“If we go ahead with the new e-learning program, we probably will not go ahead with the distance learning network in Florida,” said Bruce Hopkins, RVIA vice president of standards and education. “Florida may chose to do that on their own.”
Hopkins said that $60,000 of the $75,000 appropriation would finance the cost to develop a website, while another $15,000 – likely to be recovered through registration fees – would be needed annually to pay for the bandwidth and licensing fees for software.
The council already has put out a request-for-proposal, Hopkins said.
“I think we are evolving,” Hopkins said. “We want to move the training program forward on behalf of the industry.”
Hopkins said the RVSTC plans to launch the e-learning initiative by September with a single certification prep course. Specialty courses will be developed later.
Hopkins said the RVSTC isn’t sure what will happen to advanced and company-specific training classed now provided by the distance learning network through the RV Institute.
How the Florida Recreation Vehicle Trade Association (FRVTA) will react also isn’t clear. FRVTA initiated the DLN for its members in the late 1990s and turned it over to the RVSTC for the national dealership base in 2001.
FRVTA Executive Director Lance Wilson said the association can’t make a decision about the DLN’s future until the RVSTC makes clearer the direction it is heading.