Is “Learning Time” a Precious Commodity in Continuing Education?
Does your life feel busy and harried? For your learners, it almost definitely does. At least some of the time.
By historical standards, Americans have more free time than ever before. However, college-educated professionals enjoy far less of it than other demographics. For them, life feels busy because it is busy. Needless to say, making time for activities outside the workplace can be tough.
And that includes participation in continuing professional education (CE).
According to one recent survey, 61% of healthcare professionals “find it difficult to attend meetings.” Those same respondents said that information presented in meetings should be “available online and in real time, so they can access it remotely, around their practice commitments.”
“Learning time,” it seems, is a precious commodity. Your learners need CE, but accessing it is easier said than done. How can you help them fit learning into their busy schedules?
Streamline your continuing education live events
One reason learners have trouble making time for CE is because attending events carries intrinsic hassles. They’ve got to postpone family time, arrange transport, and spend an hour or more at the event. For daytime events, learners also have to reply to people who hit their autoresponder while they were away.
At many organizations, there are even more hassles for learners to contend with. They’ve got to use multiple software platforms to complete registration, make payments, and request credit. Then, when the event is over, they have to access yet another platform to obtain a copy of their certificate.
They might even contact providers by phone to request a transcript.
If you provide CE live events, you probably can’t do much about learners’ personal schedules and transportation. But you can definitely streamline the pre-event and post-event learner experience!
According to the same survey where healthcare professionals reported that it was difficult to attend meetings, a resounding majority (70%) also said they wanted a single platform for event registration and related communications. In other words, you can help learners optimize their time by automating the pre-event and post-event experience:
- Adding event synopses to a searchable online calendar that integrates with your existing website
- Integrating the events calendar with eCommerce tools that include registration and payment options
- Prompting learners to complete post-event evaluations and outcomes surveys online
- Enabling a request for credit process that learners initiate from any web-enabled device they bring to an event
- Providing seamless, round-the-clock access to printable certificates and transcripts
For learners, all of these small wins translate into significantly less free time they’ll have to spend dealing with event-related tasks. They help you make the entire CE experience more learner-friendly.
Put continuing education online
In recent years, more CE providers have created online enduring materials (OEMs) to meet learners’ needs for convenience and flexibility. OEM activities are what a lot of people think of when they hear about “online” continuing education:
- Browsing, selecting, and completing activities occurs on the same platform: Learners can view available OEMs, decide which ones they want to complete, and begin the activity right away.
- Learners complete activities immediately after selecting them. The activity listing or calendar tool integrates with the OEM content itself. It’s easy to for learners to start an activity, pause when they want to, and return to complete it later.
- Learners manage their own education experience. Following completion of an OEM activity, learners can view test results, access content from the activity, and view or print certificates and transcripts.
All of this unfolds on learners’ own time. By completing OEMs, learners can take full advantage of the free hours at their disposal to fulfill CE obligations.
CE providers benefit from the flexibility, too. You might already offer live continuing education webinars as a less time-consuming alternative to traditional live events. Why not repackage the recorded webinar as an OEM and repurpose the content to fit that format? When webinars lend themselves to this sort of reinvention, it can be a boon to CE providers and learners alike.
Learners do have time for CE, but providers can help.
Ultimately, learners make time for CE because it’s valuable to their work and allows them to continue in their careers. But that doesn’t mean you should take their participation for granted. After all, a clunky, time-consuming experience can reflect poorly upon your brand. You don’t want that, and neither do your learners.
By taking the hassle out of the CE experience, you help learners maximize what precious little free time they have. They’ll be more satisfied with the CE they receive from your organization and more likely to participate in future activities.
Their lives won’t feel quite so busy and harried. In today’s frenetic professional environment, that’s saying something.