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ISO History:
International standardization began in the electro-technical field (International Electro-technical Commission- IEC) in 1906.  Pioneering work in other fields was carried out by the International Federation of the National Standardizing Associations (ISA), which was set up in 1926.  The emphasis within ISA was laid heavily on mechanical engineering.  ISA´s activities came to an end in 1942. 
In 1946, delegates from 25 countries met in London and decided to create a new international organization, of which the object would be "to facilitate the international coordination and unification of industrial standards".  The new organization, ISO, officially began operations on 23 February 1947.

ISO Standards:
Between 1947 and the present day, ISO published more than 16,000 International Standards.  ISO´s work program ranges from standards for traditional activities, such as agriculture and construction, through mechanical engineering, to medical devices, to the newest information technology developments, such as the digital coding of audio-visual signals for multimedia applications.

ISO is responsible for developing, maintaining and publishing all ISO families of standards but it does not audit or assess the management systems of organizations to verify that they have been implemented in conformity with the requirements of the standards.  ISO does not issue certificates.

ISO Standards Benefit Society:
For businesses
the widespread adoption of International Standards means that suppliers can base the development of their products and services on specifications that have wide acceptance in their sectors.  This, in turn, means that businesses using International Standards are increasingly free to compete on many more markets around the world.
For customers the worldwide compatibility of technology which is achieved when products and services are based on International Standards brings them an increasingly wide choice of offers, and they also benefit from the effects of competition among suppliers.  Conformity of products and services to International Standards provides assurance about their quality, safety and reliability.
For governments International Standards provide the technological and scientific bases underpinning health, safety and environmental legislation.
For trade officials negotiating the emergence of regional and global markets, International Standards create "a level playing field" for all competitors on those markets.  The existence of divergent national or regional standards can create technical barriers to trade, even when there is political agreement to do away with restrictive import quotas and the like.  International Standards are the technical means by which political trade agreements can be put into practice.
For developing countries International Standards that represent an international consensus on the state of the art constitute an important source of technological know-how.  By defining the characteristics that products and services will be expected to meet on export markets, International Standards give developing countries a basis for making the right decisions when investing their scarce resources and thus avoid squandering them.
For everyone International Standards can contribute to the quality of life in general by ensuring that the transport, machinery and tools we use are safe.
For the planet we inhabit, International Standards on air, water and soil quality, and on emissions of gases and radiation, can contribute to efforts to preserve the environment.

The Hallmarks of the ISO Brand:
Equal footing
: Every participating ISO member institute (full members) has the right to take part in the development of any standard which it judges to be important to its country´s economy.
Voluntary: ISO standards are voluntary.  As a non-governmental organization, ISO has no legal authority to enforce their implementation - has been adopted in some countries as part of their regulatory framework, they may become a market requirement.
Market-driven: ISO develops only those standards for which there is a market requirement.
Consensus: Consensus, like technology, evolves and ISO takes account both of evolving technology and of evolving interests by requiring a review of its standards at least every five years to decide whether they should be maintained, updated or withdrawn.
Worldwide: ISO standards are technical agreements which provide the framework for compatible technology worldwide.

ISO Standards:
ISO standards are developed by technical committees comprising experts from the industrial, technical and business sectors which have asked for the standards, and which subsequently put them to use.

Quality Standards are often misunderstood, especially in the education community.  They are perceived as restricting flexibility or creativity or huge additional effort.  However, new generations of quality standards provide only a basic framework and help organizations to develop management systems according to their own requirements.

Classification of Quality Standards
Quality Standards provide harmonized, consensual concepts to manage, assure, or assess quality.  In the field of learning, education, and training, a variety of standards, quasi-standards, and related standards are available.  Generally, three classes of standards can be distinguished:
Generic Quality Standards provide concepts for quality management or quality assurance, independent of the domain of usage.  As, an example, ISO 9000 is used in different sectors and branches.  As a generic quasi-standard, the Excellence Award by the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) is widely used but not agreed on by a formal standardization body.  "Generic" also signifies that no matter what the organization´s scope of activity, if it wants to establish a quality management system or an environmental management system, then such a system has a number of essential features for which the relevant standards of the ISO 9000 or ISO 14000 families provide the requirements
Specific Quality Standards provide quality management or quality assurance concepts for the field of learning, education, and training.  This means that specific requirements concerning processes or products are incorporated.
Related Standards are used to manage or assure specific aspects of quality.  As an example, learning technology standards are used to assure interoperability as a specific quality objective.  As another example, ISO 9241 assures the usability of systems by providing specific requirements and guidelines for user interface design.

However, this is only a very rough classification.  To describe quality standards in depth, the following aspects help to distinguish quality concepts:
Context and Scope: For which context is an approach intended (e.g., schools, Higher Education, Vocational Training), which are the processes covered (e.g., design, development, realization)
Objectives: Which are the quality objectives which can be achieved by an approach (e.g., cost reduction, process consistency, learner satisfaction, product reliability)
Focus: Does the quality approach focus on organizations / processes,  products / services, or competencies
Perspective: For which stakeholders and from which perspective was a quality approach designed (e.g., developers, administrators, learners)
Methodology: Which methods and instruments are used (e.g., benchmarking, criteria catalogue, guidelines, information provision)
Metrics: Which indicators and criteria are used to measure the success (e.g., drop-out rate, return on investment, learner satisfaction)?
This classification shows the variety of possibilities to design a quality approach.  To harmonize quality concepts and provide a concept which incorporates the above mentioned aspects.

Getting the ISO Certificate:
Since there is no single blueprint for implementing ISO that will work for every organization; consultants have the necessary expertise to help managers balance the conflicting requirements, hence, prepare them, thoroughly, for a successful application by using, efficiently the clien´s resources, in order, to reach effective and satisfactory results.

For that purpose, the organization may engage the services of an independent management system certification body to obtain an ISO certificate.  This option has proved extremely popular in the market-place because of the perceived credibility of an independent assessment.  The organization may thus avoid multiple audits by its clients, or reduce the frequency or duration of client audits.  The certificate can also serve as a business reference between the organization and potential clients, especially when supplier and client are new to each other, or far removed geographically, as in an export context.

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