Rethink Your Continuing Education Publishing Process
What’s your publishing process for online continuing education (CE) content? Different organizations follow a variety of methods for getting their online CE activities in front of learners. In an ideal world, publishing would be straightforward and routine. You could basically set it and forget it.
Unfortunately, that’s not how things are for many CE administrators.
Un-user friendly interfaces, cumbersome processes for modifying content, no tools to integrate activities with learner actions or other integral functionality… The list of potential hassles is long, and every provider has different hiccups that administrators have to work around.
The good news is that publishing can actually be one of the simplest, most impactful aspects of CE administration. CE activities you publish (and your learners’ participation in them) can also integrate seamlessly with other functionality that’s key to your learner experience.
Streamlined publishing brings business benefits
First of all, let’s consider why you want to optimize your publishing process. The act of publishing content is basically a means to an end. While painstaking work goes into creating a great CE activity, making that activity available to learners is an exercise you want to complete quickly.
It’s basically a collection of administrative tasks that should be as automatic and turnkey as possible. A simple, straightforward, and fast publishing process gives you:
- Relief from tech tedium: You and your colleagues will spend less time entering data into your CE software and building activities. As a result, you’ll have more time available for higher value tasks.
- No-hassle modifications: While many online CE activities won’t require substantial changes over time, you will have to perform periodic maintenance and update your content. The easier it is to go in and make those updates, the better for everyone.
- Less time fielding learner requests: Assuming it’s easy for you to add any content in common formats like PDF, mp4, and SCORM, you’ll help learners access all the information they need for an activity in a single place. They’ll have fewer questions for you, all by sheer virtue of your comprehensive publishing tools and the associated, no-hassle process.
These are real business benefits that can help your organization fulfill its mission to provide valuable continuing education to professional learners. With less time needed for the actual act of publishing CE content, you’ll have more flexibility to create and improve all of your CE activities.
It’s a virtuous cycle, but you’ve got to know what your publishing process could look like before opting to upgrade it.
Here’s how simple your publishing lifecycle can be
Your CE activity is ready. All of the content is ready for publication. Now what? Ideally, publishing will unfold according to a process resembling this one:
- Access a one-stop authoring environment: Log in to a single piece of software that contains all the tools you need to build an activity. You’re about to complete the entire publishing process in one place.
- Enter information about the activity, including an overview page and catalog summary: Add the overview that learners will see before beginning the activity. You can also add a brief summary and metadata that makes it easier for learners to identify the right activity in the course catalog. (we’ll explore catalog integration in a bit).
- Add test and evaluation questions: Do you require pre-tests at the beginning of your activities? It should be easy to add them in your authoring interface. You can also add post-tests and learner evaluation questions.
- Upload your content: Add any content to your activity with the knowledge that it will display accordingly when learners access it. Drag-and-drop functionality comes in handy here. All content you upload should be hosted on a server that’s associated with your CE activity.
- Link out to content on the web: As needed, you should have the ability to link to content that’s already available elsewhere. If you’re adding journal content, you should be able to add the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for the publication to automatically associate it with your activity.
- Review your CE activity: Do your tests and evaluation questions look good? Are there any spelling errors? You should have the opportunity to review all of your work before the activity goes live.
- Publish: Your activity is ready! As soon as you publish it, learners can easily access the content and start earning credit.
- Modify: Over time, you will need to modify your activity. Maybe learner evaluations alert you to areas of improvement, or maybe you’re updating an activity to keep the information current. Whatever the case, making changes should be simple. You should be able to quickly identify the section of the activity that needs attention and apply modifications right away.
Speaking of integration…
An LMS ensures that CE content integrates with learner actions
When your publishing process is complete, you should be confident that:
- Your activity has a searchable catalog summary
- The right content displays to your learners – and works as expected
- Your activity displays test and evaluation questions to learners
- All learner responses to test and evaluation questions are recorded
- You can generate reports based on learner participation in an activity
- Learners can claim credit following activity completion
All of these actions should unfold automatically after you publish an activity. You shouldn’t have to think about it – it should just work.
Needless to say, ensuring that all of these things take place just because you clicked “publish” requires several moving parts. That’s why it’s essential to publish activities inside a fully integrated learning management system (LMS).
By “fully integrated,” we’re saying that actions taken by administrators (publishing, for instance) translate into functionality available to learners (completing an activity and claiming credit). In turn, learner actions translate into functionality available to administrators, like reports on performance and participation.
When you publish an online continuing education activity, that should be all you have to do. Not only is your content available to learners, but functionality operating behind the scenes helps you put follow-up administration on autopilot.
Before you know it, you might not just be rethinking your publishing process. You might be rethinking your approach to online CE.