JA Launches Online Education Initiative

Jewelers of America, in an attempt to broaden its educational reach, launched an online course component at the JA New York Show Tuesday. The series of courses, beginning with a BETA-launch in February, is part of a new JA educational initiative called J-Biz.

Matthew A. Runci, JA president and chief executive officer, said that the online courses will allow JA to better deliver educational materials to store owners, managers, and sales associates.

“We were not reaching jewelers because our complete reliance on on-site events necessitates travel, time away from the store, and limited staff involvement,” Runci said at a press conference. “The new online program provides an opportunity to reach tens of thousands of retail jewelers and their sales associates.”

David Peters, JA director of education, explained that the courses are designed to be targeted to address narrow educational goals. In addition, they will be tailored to meet the schedule of busy jewelers with courses largely divided into 45-minute segments, and those segments into 15-minute intervals. Total completion times range from three to six hours, with some courses lasting as long as 10 to 12 hours. Courses can be taken at home, at the store, or just about anywhere else where there is a computer.

“Online access makes it possible to provide just-in-time education to members wherever they are,” Peters said.

Employers can monitor the progress of their employees. Most courses will be offered to JA-member jewelers. However, there will be times when JA will partner with other organizations to deliver content online.

Courses are estimated to range from $20 to $50. Among the first online courses to be made available are: communicating color, the basics of selling diamonds, ethical selling, and relationship selling. J-Biz will also adapt some of JA’s best-known in-print programs, such as “Counter Intelligence” and “Jewelry 101.”

J-Biz will also offer free download programs that is available to members in print form, such as conflict diamond information and “Ask the Gemologist.”

All material is designed to be accessible for dial-up and high-speed Internet connections.