5 Administrative Bottlenecks That Hobble Continuing Education Providers
They’re busy juggling learner requests, posting and updating activity information on the web, entering attendance data into spreadsheets, calculating payments received, and collating paper-based evaluations.
They’re busy doing these things, but they’d rather be busy developing new CE activities and strengthening existing ones.
Unfortunately, CE professionals encounter frequent administrative bottlenecks that prevent them from dedicating their time to high-value tasks. Here are five of the most common hassles that hobble CE staff and add undue tedium to their workload.
1. Registration and payments
If you’re a CE professional, how do you handle learner registration and payment processing? You might rely on a number of software applications and digital platforms, including:
- An event registration web application
- Your website, which lists events for which learners can register
- Payment gateway tools
You might even allow registration by phone or email, accept personal checks, or record data in spreadsheets that circulate around your organization inside email attachments. Many CE providers depend on some combination of these methods, but there are problems with all of them.
For starters, disparate registration and eCommerce tools don’t always integrate with one another. Does your website allow learners to register using a secure form that connects to a payment gateway and automatically updates your list of event attendees? Probably not. Can learners view a list of available activities, register, and pay for attendance in a single place? Not unless you’ve deliberately set things up that way.
What’s more, most of these options require a lot of manual effort on the part of administrators. The less you automate, the more time people have to spend getting things done.
In our view, more automation is better than less when it comes to CE activity registration.
2. Processing meeting attendance
When Rievent added support for regularly scheduled series (RSS) CME last year, one of the biggest benefits for CE providers was the simplicity of processing attendance. At the end of a session, attending learners receive a 5-character code. They just log in to their account and enter the code to record attendance.
Basically, CE providers don’t have to lift a finger. Learners record RSS attendance themselves.
Many CE providers still don’t process attendance this way, though. Instead, they handle attendance for RSS and other CE live events using paper-based systems and spreadsheets. While these methods work, they also create unnecessary administrative hassles.
After all, it takes a lot longer to add names from the attendance sheet to a spreadsheet and draw on the spreadsheet data to process credit requests than it does for learners to enter a code.
3. Gauging the success of activities
Post-activity evaluations help CE providers understand the strengths and weaknesses of specific activities. However, collecting those evaluations and parsing responses isn’t always a simple task. If getting learners to complete an evaluation isn’t hard enough (it usually is!), it can also take forever to analyze the data.
The solution is to include the evaluation with the request for credit function in your learning management system. That’s how we do it at Rievent. Learners are prompted to complete an evaluation right after they finish an activity, and their responses are available immediately.
Automated evaluations can also help you move closer to post-activity outcomes assessments. In the CME world especially, the ability to determine whether continuing education has a positive real-world impact can be immensely valuable to providers. The problem, of course, is largely logistical. How can you track down learners and have them report back about the application of CE content in their daily practice?
Needless to say, doing so would amount to a lot of work for CE providers.
By putting evaluations on autopilot, you can schedule a post-activity outcomes evaluation to hit learners’ inbox several weeks or months after they completed an activity. That way, they’ve had time to apply what they learned to real-world scenarios.
It’s a relatively simple way to progress toward effective outcomes assessments, and it requires a lot less manual legwork from CE administrators.
4. Building and delivering online activities
Connecting learners to online activities, like online enduring materials (OEMs) and recorded webinars, can be extremely time consuming and frustrating for CE providers. From creating OEM pre-tests and post-tests, assembling supplemental content, and integrating eCommerce tools, online CE often entails substantial administrative hassle.
As we noted on this blog earlier in the year, continuing education technology can ease the transition to OEMs and other online CE activities by offering:
- Greater convenience: Compared to using a variety of systems or a combination of software and manual processes, the technology that’s built for CE makes it easy for administrators to get everything done in one place.
- Straightforward course building tools: Enter information about the activity, including test questions and answers, and add existing content in learning-specific file formats, like SCORM, PDF, or mp4.
- Automatic evaluations: The evaluation is part of the activity – just add it along with the other information you enter during the course building process. You can compel learners to complete an evaluation at the end of each activity.
- Data collection and reporting: If you manually process post-activity learner participation data, a CE-focused LMS can collect that data as learners move through an activity, eliminating the need to spend hours preparing reports.
5. Managing learner requests
Can you send my certificate?
How do I register for this event?
Where are my test scores?
CE administrators constantly field questions like these from their learners. And while they’re valid issues – learners deserve a copy of their transcripts or certificates, after all! – they can take up hours of your valuable time.
This was actually a primary concern for CME administrators at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) before they started using the Rievent Platform to automate learners’ credit requests. The AAN was using a legacy CME application that prompted lots of questions from learners about requesting credit. After the organization started automating the process, learners almost never have questions related to credit requests.
If you spend a lot of time managing inquiries, transitioning to online, self-service tools for learners is an ideal solution. In a comprehensive continuing education learning management system, these tools should come standard and integrate seamlessly with the activities you build and deliver.
Ultimately, you want to eliminate as many administrative bottlenecks as possible and free up more time to develop effective education programs that benefit learners. With the right technology, you can finally make it happen.