5 Software Issues That Frustrate CE Learners
Few of us use software for its own sake. We use software to complete tasks – to accomplish something quickly, easily, and with as few hindrances as possible. In the case of online continuing education (CE) software, your learners also use it to earn credit at a time and venue of our choosing. Convenience is critical.
So, when CE software doesn’t work properly, well… that’s frustrating.
Learners can’t get the credits they need according to their preferred schedule. They have to spend extra time solving whatever problem arose. Worst of all, they might have to change their plans or modify their calendar at the very last minute. It’s no fun for anybody.
So, how can you help learners avoid these vexing scenarios? By eliminating as many CE software issues as possible. That’s how. But before you can fix the problems, you’ve got to understand what they are. Acknowledging these five common CE software issues – all of which frustrate your learners – is a great place to start.
1. Inability to resume a CE activity you started earlier
Imagine you just bought a book on Kindle. You read Chapter 1, which you like, but you have to take a break to pick up your kids from school. Later on, you grab the Kindle again, eager to begin Chapter 2. But something is wrong.
The Kindle won’t let you start at Chapter 2. It keeps sending you back to Chapter 1. Turns out, it’s set to always start over at the beginning. If you want to read the whole book, you actually have to set aside a whole day or more and finish it in one go.
Needless to say, nobody would buy Kindle books if you had to read them this way. So why do some CE software platforms force learners to complete entire activities during a single session?
One thing learners love about online CE is the ability to complete activities on their own time. Of course, “on their own time” doesn’t always mean completing an entire CE activity at once – learners need the ability to start an activity, sign off for the rest of the day, and resume the activity where they left off.
The ability to resume an in-progress activity is a fundamental component of any effective learning management system. If your CE platform doesn’t offer it, there’s a good chance your learners are muttering under their breath.
2. Confusing user interfaces
When you’re trying to complete a CE activity, confusion results in lost time. Here are some of examples of how this can happen:
- You’re ready to browse CE offerings, but you can’t find the list of available activities
- It’s time to view activity content, but you can’t find a link to that content. You hunt around for several minutes before you see it.
- You need to download a certificate, but you can’t find the download link – or perhaps certificate downloads aren’t available at all.
- You’re browsing a list of activities, but you want to view only enduring activities about a certain subject matter. There’s no way to filter search results, so you spend several minutes sifting through a long list.
Learner interfaces should be designed with learners in mind. Period. Not only that, they should require as few (or, better yet, zero) handoffs to separate applications, such as eCommerce software, content stored on another domain, and so forth.
While we’re on that subject…
3. Clunky integrations with separate applications
A multi-application experience, more often than not, is a sub-par experience.
Many CE applications flat out do not include everything learners need to get in, select an activity, complete that activity, and earn credit. To get the job done, these applications have to interface with other applications. And that creates problems.
- Learner confusion. This is what we talked about earlier. Learners might not understand what’s happening when they try to complete a task and your system hands them off to another system.
- Multiple login screens. Learners might have to log in to multiple applications just to complete a single CE-related task.
- Broken software with no solution in sight. Sometimes, learners might need to access content stored outside of your domain to complete an activity. If that content isn’t available for some reason, you’ll have to wait for the other site to come back online. It’s a waiting game. There’s not much you can do to solve the problem.
When you choose or build an incomplete CE platform – one that doesn’t do everything learners need it to do on its own – you’re taking a risk. The biggest risk is that learners simply won’t be able to achieve the things they’re trying to achieve.
4. Third party eCommerce applications
Sometimes, third party eCommerce applications work just fine. But when they time out, process payments slowly, or force users to provide additional login credentials, learners can start to lose confidence.
And if the eCommerce app doesn’t integrate very well with your software platform, might be frustrating your learners in a serious way.
If you offer CE live events or any other type of CE activity that requires learners to pay for attendance, fully integrated eCommerce helps you avoid the confidence problem. eCommerce will function seamlessly. Learners won’t have to wait, provide new login info, or store credit card data with an unknown third party.
They’ll be conducting business with an organization they already trust: your organization.
5. Sudden, inexplicable software bugs that are difficult to work around
At Rievent, we’ve always maintained that the best kind of support is no support.
That’s not to say we won’t be there when you need us – we always are! What it means is that your CE software should work so well, you practically never need to contact support.e. Any time you can’t figure something out, you should be able to fix it in a snap by consulting the support documentation.
And when you can’t, you can always contact us. Fact is, we just don’t get many support requests!
Anybody who has used any business or educational software knows that things do break and they break often. A lot of applications function so poorly, users have come to expect a buggy experience and frequent support calls. That’s a shame. You should not constantly be contacting support to figure something out for your learners.
To avoid getting stuck with buggy software, we recommend:
- Trying the software before you buy it; at Rievent, we offer sandbox accounts that you can use over an extended period to understand every feature and get a realistic sense of the learner and administrator experiences.
- Ask about support; does the company handle a heavy technical support load? If so, why? There might be a good reason, or they might just be selling a glitchy product.
- Select a vendor who knows your learners; many catch-all learning management products weren’t built for CE. To build a solid CE product, a vendor should understand and be focused on the needs of that market. In other words, they should “get” what your learners need without a big learning curve.
You don’t have to frustrate your learners.
Instead of offering less-than-adequate CE software, you can deliver a comprehensive, fully integrated learner experience with an intuitive, easy-to-use interface. Buggy software? Confusion? Head scratching? You can leave all of that behind.
It all comes down to selecting the right continuing education software platform for your learners – and for your staff. By making a smart choice, you can reduce technical hangups, free up more time for valuable tasks, and help learners get what they want: a straightforward CE platform that lets them complete activities on their own time.