Posted on: September 7, 2021
Author: Sherard Jones, IACET Director of Standards
50 Years of Standardization image

You’ve heard the old adage “to a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Well to a person like myself – everything looks like Standardization – like the time when I was inspired to talk about accreditation by the Jerk Chicken place

So, as we look to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the CEU, I think that its proper to celebrate the evolution of the CEU as a tool for Standardization. According to the About the CEU page on the IACET website, The Continuing Education Unit or CEU was created and defined in 1970 and was designed to (among other things) provide a standard unit of measurement for continuing education and training.

Yesterday’s Need


“In 1968, a group of individuals in the United States recognized that there was no standard means to

quantify continuing education, one of the fastest growing segments of education in the workplace.”

Noting that the beginning leads with meeting the need for a standard, you could easily say that the rest was history, but there is more to be gleaned from this humble history.

Immediately we see that the process begins with a recognized need. This recognized need was to prepare the way for the growth of education in the workplace. 50 years later, IACET is still addressing this need – that sounds like a spot-on needs analysis! 😊

Anyway, in continuing to peruse IACET’s history we find that at a conference held in Washington DC in 1968 “individuals from 34 national organizations representing business, industry, labor, professional associations, government, and higher education attended to discuss this problem.”

And since everything looks like a nail…from a Standards or Program Development perspective, this is the part of the process where we convene stakeholders. Stakeholders can be defined as persons or organizations that are interested in or affected by the Standard or Program.  I prefer the corporate definition that I found cited on Wikipedia (everyone’s friend, that Wikipedia 😊): a stakeholder is a member of "groups without whose support the organization would cease to exist." This definition gives proper respect to the role of a stakeholder in the life of an organization. It also illuminates the absolute need to gather, analyze, and implement appropriate feedback from them. But I digress…

So, if we continue through IACET’s history, we will find that the stakeholders became a task force that piloted the CEU in fourteen major universities. The task force became a non-profit membership association that eventually became IACET.

And, the rest is history (see now its appropriate).

(I really encourage you to read IACET’s history. Its riveting.)

Tomorrow’s Innovation

IACET has gone on to iterate and grow the CEU guidelines from those many decades ago into becoming recognized as an ANSI-Accredited standards developing organization (SDO) in 2006. IACET submits to accreditation by ANSI according to the ANSI Essential Requirements. The ANSI accreditation process ensures that we are gathering and applying information from YOU – OUR STAKEHOLDERS (see corporate definition). It is clear that the ongoing conversation between IACET and our stakeholders has been at the heart of our longevity. This is why we want you tell us how to continue to improve the ANSI/IACET 1-Standard for Continuing Education and Training.

Your voice and input will be the reason why IACET is able to innovate to meet the learning needs of a rapidly changing marketplace. Help us to continue a legacy of setting a standard in learning.

About the Author


Sherard Jones has over 15 years of experience with IACET Accreditation in various roles and is committed to applying his expertise to support IACET in meeting its strategic goals. Sherard is currently a Lead Assessor for the ANSI-CAP program, has worked as Vice President of Education and Training for IAPMO, and was a past Chair of the IACET Commission. Sherard has 10+ years of experience in strategic program development and has partnered with clients having business needs varying from creating international workforce development programs to build capacity through training and credentialing — to creating and overseeing organizational restructuring plans.

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