How Automated Is Your Continuing Education Activity?
How many tasks do your learners complete during a continuing education (CE) activity? If you start at the very beginning of their experience – the part where learners browse CE offerings – you’ll find that the number is actually quite large.
From viewing and selecting the available activities to submitting post-test answers, learners busy themselves with a variety of actions. Even after an activity is complete, they might have to select a credit type, print a certificate, and fill out a follow-up outcomes evaluation. There’s a lot to do!
When technical or logistical hurdles make those tasks hard to complete, learner satisfaction suffers. More automation, on the other hand, sets the stage for a better learner experience.
From start to finish, a complete list of your learner CE activity tasks
Every CE provider does things a little differently, but here’s a high-level overview of tasks that learners usually complete during the course of an online CE activity:
- View activity listings and descriptions
- Select and begin an activity
- Complete a pre-activity evaluation in the form of a survey or graded test
- Read or view content in the form of text or video
- Complete a post-test
- Complete a post-activity evaluation
- Select a credit type
- View and print certificates and/or transcripts
- Complete an outcomes evaluation in the weeks or months following participation
Whew! That’s a big list. If you’re like many CE providers, your learners might handle those tasks using a variety of systems, interfaces and interactions.
For example, maybe they view activity listings on your website and decide which ones they want to complete. Then they log into a separate system where they view the content. Finally, after completing a post-test and claiming credit, they call you to request a certificate.
Or maybe most of your activities are live events. Maybe learners register for the activity and pay for attendance using two separate applications. There isn’t a diagnostic. They simply show up, watch the presentation, and fill out a paper evaluation.
These are just two different scenarios, but we’ve already seen:
- Learners using multiple software platforms to complete an activity
- Phone calls placed to providers in an effort to retrieve information
- Manual, paper-based processes
- Lack of meaningful learning data (no diagnostic) or a central repository for storing and analyzing that data
The more you can automate learner actions like online registration and post-test completion, the closer you get to a seamless learner experience. Manual actions, on the other hand, add hiccups to the process. Who wants to call their CE provider and wait for an administrator to hunt for a certificate? Who wants to access CE activity content and credit information using two separate software platforms?
And what CE administrator wants to collate paper-based activity evaluations?
Making all of these actions automatic enables simplicity, saves time, and eliminates potential sources of confusion. And you know what? It’s absolutely possible to automate those lingering learner tasks that currently require manual effort. You can also integrate them into a single online experience, so learners complete all tasks in one place.
Automating and integrating learner actions
Let’s say you’re an obstetrician who needs to earn continuing medical education (CME) credit. You’re browsing a CME provider’s website for online (enduring) activities relating to management of gestational diabetes. You see an activity you want to complete. What should happen next?
This is the point where automation can really kick things into gear. In an ideal learner experience, things might unfold like this:
- Log in to your CME provider’s learning management system (LMS): You only have to do this once thanks to single sign-on (SSO). After that, everything else unfolds within a single interface – no navigating between software applications.
- Take a pre-test or survey: Before you’re exposed to any content, you complete either a graded pre-test or ungraded knowledge survey depending on the provider requirements. This diagnostic will appear immediately after you agree to begin an activity.
- View activity content: As soon as you’re done with the diagnostic, you’re transported directly to the CME activity itself. All of the content is there, whether PDF, video, or otherwise. You don’t have to leave or access a different application to view it.
- Take a post-test, complete an evaluation, select credit: These actions take place within a single interface, all in succession.
- Receive a CME Confirmation Email: Immediately after completing the activity, you automatically receive a CME confirmation email containing a link to download the certificate.
After that, you’re done! If you want, you can print a certificate or request a transcript immediately following activity participation. Again, accessing these documents should be automatic. They’re right there in the LMS.
Notice how you didn’t have to contact your provider? Or log in more than once? Or submit anything manually? This is what a fully automated CE experience is like.
The other part – and you probably noticed this, too – is that everything is completely integrated. Learners complete all tasks from one place, and everything blends seamlessly into your website. That integration extends to the provider’s authoring experience. Create any type of activity, add content, and add tests and evaluations to an activity inside a single LMS. If your LMS was built for continuing professional education, you can bet that it’s collecting data on learner participation in the background.
It’s a single experience where every task is automated. Simple as that.
This probably isn’t your reality – yet.
CE providers understand the value of delivering a fantastic learner experience. Happier, more engaged learners are learners who will participate in your CE activities again and again. They’ll keep learning, which is really the whole point, and they’ll become better at their jobs as a result.
So remember to maintain high expectations when you invest in new CE technologies! Now that you know just how seamless the learner experience can be, you’ll have a good idea about what to look for in an LMS.