NACo opening online campus

The National Association of Counties, the national advocate for county governments, soon will launch a subscription-based, e-learning Web site with information technology and critical skills courseware.

Dubbed NACo Internet University (NIU), the site (which will be at www.nacoiu.org) will offer courses with text, graphics and many with audio on hundreds of topics, said Lois Kampinsky, NACo's telecommunications and education director. She said people could even apply for college credit or continuing education credit through universities and colleges.

"Our objective is really to be a good disseminator of useful education," she said. "That's part of our mandate, and more and more, we've heard that's what people want and that's why they're coming to our organization."

Washington, D.C.-based NACo, which has about 2,000 members, offers seminars, conference workshops and satellite broadcasts, but Kampinsky said the NIU concept is something the organization has been mulling for years. She said it's designed to supplement and complement — not replace — education and training courses offered by state associations of county governments and other organizations.

Open to members and nonmembers, NIU will feature two "libraries" — an IT component and a critical skills component — each with about 900 courses, ranging from introductory to advanced. The critical skills library will include such items as business law, leadership and presentation skills, call-center and customer service skills, and understanding financial statements.

Two companies considered the best in developing e-learning courseware provided the content, she said.

When individuals subscribe to a library, they get unlimited access for one year. A user submits his or her name and e-mail address and, in return, receives a unique password to access the site. The cost per library is $195 for members, $250 for nonmembers. Purchasing both libraries cost $349 for members, $449 for nonmembers.

Kampinsky said NACo plans to offer bulk discounts for multiple users. For example, she said a county government purchasing access for 100 employees would provide names and e-mail addresses, and in return, each employee would receive a unique password.

She said part of the revenue NACo gains would be put back into the site in the form of educational tips and "mini-courses," such as a county risk management course, that would be available for free.

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