The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) offers the open-source National Training and Education Resource (NTER) to meet the online training needs of a diverse 21st century workforce.
Developed by SRI for the DOE, and now available under the General Public License (GPLv2) in a beta version, the NTER platform represents the next generation of online learning. Self-paced, web-based training modules feature a wide variety of multimedia, including 3D interactive content.
NTER makes it easy (and inexpensive) for organizations to build, deliver, and continuously improve state-of-the-art learning experiences. By taking advantage of information technology and current learning science research, instructors and teachers can create traditional, multimedia, and 3D-enabled courses for students. NTER can enhance or augment training and workforce development conducted across the country.
The NTER platform provides students and individuals with
- Problem-centered learning
- Alternative approaches to learning
- Varied and contrasting examples
- Just-in-time learning
- Opportunities for practice and skills refreshment
The platform provides a full set of developer tools that can all be used within a single course, including:
- Course authoring
- 3D world builder
- Traditional learning and content management system
- Support for multiple content types—including images, text, multimedia and 3D
While this portal does not necessarily replace the need for formal, hands-on training or instructor-led classes, it can enhance or augment the training by providing authentic challenges in interactive 3D worlds.
Courses can be created or customized to meet the needs of individuals. Courses in the first NTER node focus on energy-related topics provided by the program’s initial DOE sponsor, and other nodes may cover education, basic science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) materials, or other education and training topics (e.g., English, healthcare, and agriculture).
The NTER platform is being used throughout DOE and by several other U.S. government organizations, including the Departments of Labor and Defense and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. About 300 students at various weatherization centers around the country, including several associated with universities, are using the initial version, the National Weatherization Training Platform (NWTP).
In May 2011, NTER was included as part of the DOE Strategic Plan. In June 2011, NTER was included in the Presidential Announcement of the Advanced Manufacturing Initiative. As a result, it was endorsed by the Manufacturing Institute to train 500,000 manufacturing workers by 2016.
Watch video from the NTER launch event held in Washington, D.C. on June 21, 2012.