LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Tire technicians who have graduated from the International Tire and Rubber Association's Commercial Tire Service Program can now renew their certification by just clicking a mouse. ITRA now has recertification exams available to technicians and instructors through its Web site: www.itra.com.
The group launched Internet-based recertification tests in December and is offering the program quarterly to techs whose certification will expire this year.
Because of the logistics of gathering 1,494 technicians and 377 instructors in one location to recertify them, ITRA decided that Web-based training was the most practical and cost-effective approach for business owners.
"It's been a huge hit," said Rita Shourds, executive director of ITRA's Educational Foundation. "People love having the availability of taking (the recertification exam) whenever they want to take it and wherever they'd like to take it—at home, at work or the library."
The exams cost ITRA members $65 and nonmembers $85, Ms. Shourds said. ITRA sends a password and username to test takers, who then have approximately two weeks to log on and complete the test.
Users can find the exam by visiting ITRA's Web site, then clicking on the CTS Recertification link. The test consists of 60 questions and is graded by the computer immediately after the user clicks the finish button, said Chris Marnett, ITRA training coordinator.
Those who pass the test receive a certificate and patches from ITRA, while those who fail can receive a new username and password and retake it immediately.
Anyone who fails the retest must wait until the following quarter to try again, Ms. Marnett said.
If a technician absolutely has no access to a computer, ITRA will mail a paper version of the test, Ms. Marnett said.
Currently, the Commercial Tire Service recertification exam is the only training ITRA has available through the Internet, although Ms. Shourds said there is a strong possibility the association will offer more training programs via the Web.
"This is kind of a first step for us in wanting to move more toward a multimedia approach to our education and training," she said.
Passenger and light truck tire recertification exams eventually will be available through the Internet as well, but ITRA will continue to hold first-time certification programs at its training center in Louisville, Ms. Shourds said.
The association teamed with America Online to develop the Web-based aspect of the program, Ms. Shourds said. The start-up costs were "considerable," but the program will be cost-efficient for the group in the long run, she said.
ITRA conducted a telephone survey of certified instructors and technicians in 1999 and found that most respondents didn't want to absorb downtime while their techs traveled to Louisville to recertify, Ms. Shourds said. Because the Internet already is considered an educational tool, ITRA decided to pursue that route.
"The whole movement in training and education today is the multimedia approach, which we are trying to be on the cutting edge of," Ms. Shourds said. "I think we've succeeded in that."