With the advancement of technology taking over more and more aspects of our day-to-day lives, elearning enters a whole new set of expectations and compliance regulations when it falls under the umbrella of Continuing Education (CE). Though much elearning is utilized in primary, secondary and postsecondary education environments, as we climb the mountain that is building a career (or helping others build their careers), elearning in CE spaces has its own unique set of challenges and standardizations to meet given the nature of its use in both public and private sector professional training. And when you need to make all that happen inside of an LMS platform with all the technical know-how that involves, the mountain were are trying to scale may in fact seem even steeper to climb.
However, fear not! To make elearning for CE as scalable as possible for your success, we have put together the following list of core features that should be evaluated when assessing whether an LMS platform will meet your needs as CE provider:
1 An intuitive user interface. As is indicative of CE, we’re free to assume that the students in your course are knowledgeable about the course material you’re offering. We cannot, however, gage how tech savvy they are let alone how much prior interaction they may have had with LMS platforms. To make sure your LMS supports a wide student customer base and also allow you to continue to grow your business, it is imperative that the platform’s interface be as user friendly and intuitive as possible.
2 Certificates. Certificates from CE courses produced out of an LMS should be customizable per the requirements of the state, federal or regional accrediting body overseeing the participating CE program. Certificates may require a course number, account number, accreditation number or specific image or data to be displayed on the generated certificates. The LMS you choose as a CE provider should be able to meet all of these criteria.
3 Automatic electronic transmission of CE credits to governing bodies. Beyond being able to generate a customized certificate for specific CE credits, the LMS you utilize for your CE courses should also have the capability to transmit a verification of completed courses and credits earned to the association or governing body overseeing the CE program in question. This provides peace of mind to the students of your CE courses as well as makes their lives easier.
4 Course locking. To ensure that every student goes through a course in a strict manner and is engaged with the course, a course will lock if inactivity is detected or if the student stops interacting with the course material.
5 eCommerce integration (and flexibility). Your LMS platform should be able to facilitate a variety of payment options for your CE courses, including completely free courses, courses which can be redeemed with a coupon or code obtained via a promotion, and of course courses which will require payment via either credit card or Paypal.
6 Ability to add restrictions in a course. To ensure that students are not skipping segments of a video or fast forwarding through content so that all course material is absorbed by them, it is important that a video and course sections have some restrictions on how they are viewed. To this end, we recommend that videos only be able to be played or paused by students and that course content be required to be viewed completely
7 Accredited course provider status. Since by its very nature CE is tied to licensure as well as professional certifications, it is likewise important that an LMS be able to verify the accredited course provider status of the organization offering the CE training.
8 Course Management and Content Creation. Ideally your LMS should provide you with the tools to seamlessly manage your courses and also create eye catching and engaging course content. This includes being able to import a variety of learning mediums (PDFs, images, videos, etc.) as well as easily arrange these elements in an aesthetically appealing format and functional interface that promotes student retention and engagement.
9 Video integration. A picture is worth a thousand words, and a video in an elearning course is the next closest experience a student will have to being in a traditional classrooms setting. To make sure all your students succeed, especially those with a visual or auditory learning style, be sure your LMS platform hosts videos and also integrates with a number of different video hosting platforms.
10 Social learning. Whether through a plugin with a participating social media site or whether through students being able to interact with each other inside the LMS through bulletin boards or live lecture classes, interaction between learners and their teachers is a fundamental element to the educational process which promotes student engagement and likewise reinforces the content matter of the subject they are studying.
11 Course timer. Utilizing a timer in a course allows you to know the exact time spent by a student in a segment of a course as well as the course as a whole. This can be utilized as a baseline for gaining insights and tracking the average time spent in a course by all students, as well as show on an individual student level how long they spent studying course material and how they are progressing in specific areas.
12 Identity verification. Are you really sure the student taking the course is who signed up initially for the course? Random pop-ups while taking a course to verify a user’s identity via security questions make sure that who ultimately earns the CE credit is also the same person taking the CE course.
In addition to everything mentioned above, we also recommend checking out “Continuing Education Provider: What’s Your Recipe for LMS Success?” on TalentedLearning.com for more insightful tips on optimizing and getting the most out of your CE LMS platform.
Have more questions about integrating your CE courses into an LMS platform? We have helped a variety of CE providers implement their courses into an LMS that best suits their individual needs. If you have any questions or would like to know what LMS is best for your particular CE courses, please contact us.