The International Olive Oil School completed the last scheduled course of its inaugural season last week with a session on olive oil quality assurance broadcast live from the UC Davis Olive Center in California.

After a summer break, the school says it will introduce a new, expanded catalog of online courses for its fall 2014 semester.

Olive Oil Times publisher and IOOS director Curtis Cord called the new initiative a major success. “What we were able to do was facilitate an exchange of valuable information between world-renowned olive oil experts, wherever they were, and participants on six continents,” said Cord.

So far, the school has garnered high praise from participants. According to surveys, 98 percent of attendees considered their instructor to be “extremely knowledgeable,” and 92 percent said they were “very likely” to return to take another IOOS course.

“That kind of encouragement tells us we’re on to something,” Cord said, “and we have collected detailed feedback throughout the first semester, so we know exactlty where we need to make changes to our program and the technology that supports it.”

One such change will be a move toward shorter, more frequent and highly specialized courses giving participants the flexibility to build their own customized curriculum, Cord hinted.

Over the summer the school will be making enhancements to its platform and making further investments in the technology behind the school’s live, interactive broadcasts.

Also starting this fall, a new proprietary system to test student proficiency will be introduced. And as participants collect merit certificates for each successfully completed courses, they will achieve ever higher distinctions within the school. Cord, then envisions a simple network where people with certain skill sets can choose to be connected with others in need of such expertise.

IOOS participants receive tasting samples and other materials by courier in advance of their course and taste along with instructors. Instructors respond to questions in real time via an onscreen chat during the live broadcast.

IOOS is not endorsed or supported by any outside company, and the curriculum is developed in consultation with the world’s foremost experts in their fields.

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