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In today’s increasingly digital world, there’s a lot of buzz about the changes happening in Continuing Education (CE)—and that’s something that couldn’t be said just a few years ago.
From the rapid proliferation of eLearning and Learning Management System (LMS) technology to disruption in the education sector due to automation and Artificial Intelligence to the increased demand for certificate programs and lifelong learning opportunities, Continuing Education has grown into a full-blown industry in and of itself.
Yes, the eLearning revolution is in full swing! In fact, according to a Global Markets Insights study, the LMS market alone is now worth well over $5.2 billion and is expected to surpass $1 trillion by 2027.
The saturation of the eLearning industry and LMS landscape poses challenges to employers, higher education institutions, and CPD program providers alike. How do you continue attracting and retaining students in this crowded environment? What will help you differentiate your program from competitors? How can you use the tools of today to drive better results?
The good news is that 58% of employees prefer to learn at their own pace, making it likely that your continuing education course will find eLearners who want their education credit through an online course.
While you can take many viable paths, not all Learning Management Systems and Continuing Education programs are created equally. As technology evolves and user experience trends change, so do the expectations of students (of all ages)—and your organization must deliver the right content in the proper format, using the right solution for the best chance of a successful online education program.
If you’re offering a CE, training, or professional development program to the modern learner, you’ve come to the right place. This comprehensive guide will help you leverage the most effective tools and best practices to provide the successful, intuitive, and memorable education experience your eLearning end users are looking for.
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Continuing Education refers to the training professionals seek after receiving their formal education to enter a specific field. While not every professional field requires CE, many require these education courses to ensure their workers remain highly qualified, maintain licensure, or further their journey on their career path.
Here are some common professionals that require their employees to obtain Continuing Education credits to maintain licensure or continue practicing:
Average Amount of CEUs Required
At least four CLE credit hours per year, depending on locality.
At least 30 contact hours of continuing education every two years, depending on locality.
10-360 per licensure period, depending on locality.
At least 20 CE credits per year, depending on locality
At least 16 PDH credits every two years, depending on locality.
As you can see, there is a constant need for continuing education courses to meet the ever-growing demands of these professional fields. These course offer your team the opportunity to stay updated on changes in your industry. This means offering online training and virtual continuing education courses is more important than ever to help you deliver great services to your customers.
Let’s look at why the continuing education industry is booming and how you can design your online course to meet these demands.
Continuing education encompasses a broad range of post-secondary learning programs, activities, and courses to upgrade our professional skill sets to the “next level.”
Professionals in the education field need CEU credits to maintain their licensure, while healthcare professionals need CME credits to show increased competency in their field. And today, the opportunities to pursue obtaining the CE credits of your choice are seemingly limitless.
But the dramatic rise of interest in continuing education… Why has this happened?
While numerous factors have caused a surge in CE and professional development programs participation, four trends stand out.
Here’s a quick look at why continuing education has “become a thing” over the past decade.
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It’s no secret that the Internet has utterly transformed our lives. We have unlimited 24/7 remote access to so much information, so many tools, so much of everything with just a few clicks of a button.
And while the standard in-person educational experience isn’t going anywhere just yet, “eLearning” in a virtual environment has become normalized in society—and it’s proving to be quite robust in respect to results.
In fact, according to a study done by education giant Pearson, online learning courses receive over 1 billion views a day. There are many reasons why online training has gained incredible popularity in recent years:
Instant access to course materials.
More opportunities for hands-on and more sophisticated forms of learning
Less time spent commuting
The ability to learn at your own pace at any time of the day
High-level data integration
eLearning facilitates all of these benefits, so it’s no surprise that 67% of associations now offer eLearning in some form. And of course, the advent of eLearning has paved the road for more Continuing Education content and service providers to set up shop.
Professional adult learners comprise the fastest-growing segment of the current U.S. higher education market. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly two-thirds of post-secondary students now embody attributes of the “non-traditional” college student.
Interestingly, late-career rejuvenation has also influenced this uptick in offerings geared towards adult learners. The Kauffman Foundation reported that the highest rate of business startup activity over the past ten years had been conducted by 55-64 year olds.
Even professionals looking to further their careers have begun looking for continuing education units, or CEUs, to meet their educational needs. With their day-to-day schedule packed with both professional and personal obligations, online courses are the best fit.
This unprecedented motivation to change career paths or set new professional goals later in life has contributed to the demand for meaningful, flexible, affordable, and certifiable education. And savvy eLearning and CE platform providers have sprung up to meet it with learning management systems or LMS advancement.
In many ways, offering training and professional development via eLearning also makes good business sense. From a corporate perspective, eLearning requires 40 to 60% less employee time than learning the same material in a classroom setting.
Moreover, revenue generated per employee is 26% higher for companies that offer technology training. Not to mention the severe cost cuts businesses can experience when replacing instructor-based training with an eLearning alternative.
However, eLearning ROI isn’t just manifested as a line item in a financial report. Investing in employee engagement and retention is more critical than ever before.
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In a recent case study, The Harvard Business Review has cited a lack of growth opportunities as one of the biggest drivers of employee turnover. And while this sentiment resonates with the majority of all job applicants, a whopping 87% of Millennials say “professional or career growth and development opportunities” are essential when making decisions about their place of employment.
Therefore, an investment in online training and Continuing Education has become a formidable solution adopted by many companies.
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Speaking of careers, Continuing Education is required to satisfy relicensing agreements or to simply meet standards in more than 50 professions—including teaching, nursing, accounting, real estate, and social services. There are also numerous certifications offered to professionals that help people showcase their expertise, justify a raise request, or improve their resumes.
Access to Continuing Education is among the top three reasons association members join an organization.
But mandatory classes and upward mobility in the job market—or even at one’s current place of employment—are merely a couple of factors contributing to the mainstreaming of CE. According to a recent Marketing General report, access to Continuing Education is also the #3 reason why association members decide to onboard with an organization.
So many people are enthusiastic about the concept of “lifelong learning,” and professional development quenches that thirst for knowledge. But the formality and structure of Continuing Education programs also provide not only the motivation to complete the curriculum but the gratification of earning new credentials.
While leveraging a series of renowned speakers or touting captivating course titles and topics may increase participation in your organization’s Continuing Education or development offerings, that’s not enough to maintain your competitive positioning within the CE marketplace.
The level of engagement and enthusiasm your eLearners demonstrate and the results they achieve will be heavily impacted by your decisions regarding content delivery, user experience, and technology.
Many advancements have been made in these areas over the past few years or so. To attract your target audience and, perhaps more importantly, impress them enough to keep them coming back for more, you must stay on top of these influential trends.
What will take your CE or training program to the next level? Adapting to the following industry developments will undoubtedly make a difference!
It’s not just about what content you deliver to your eLearners; it’s also about how you provide it. No matter how great your course material is, remember that it can easily get lost in a cumbersome presentation or poor formatting.
But becoming a content connoisseur is a lot easier said than done. With the availability of countless tools on the market, sometimes it’s challenging to simply decide on the suitable medium(s) for your audience. So it’s essential to choose the right learning platform to facilitate your content delivery strategy.
But fear not! These four content delivery trends are all the rage—and frankly, they’ve become eLearning necessities for those CE pros who wish to stay ahead of the pack.
Take a look around—everyone's on their smartphones. First and foremost, if your education, development, or training program isn’t mobile-compatible, you’re already failing to meet a relatively low bar concerning today’s technology standards.
The modern eLearner expects content to be available at their fingertips. Should they prefer to complete an online educational track via their phone or tablet, your course content should be responsive or designed on the backend in a way that automatically scales and displays your content to adapt to various screen sizes.
Rest assured, “going mobile” isn’t just about making your content look great. For many on-the-go professionals, mobile learning is the preferred practice. LearnDash reports that 70% of learners feel more motivated when training on a mobile device (as opposed to their computer). Along with this:
Don’t lose customers to your competitors simply because your content isn’t mobile-friendly. Making this change is well worth the investment—and will only become more critical as time goes on.
In the virtual world, most live eLearning events take the form of webinars. Webinars have become a universal go-to because this content delivery channel makes it so easy for thought leaders and businesses to connect with and disseminate information to their audiences.
But Continuing Education webinars are a special breed. These online events involve a virtual audience receiving educational content from a speaker who leverages interactive elements to field questions, conduct surveys, and polls, and gather feedback. When using a top-notch Learning Management System, CE webinars can be followed up by a post-session evaluation, a test or quiz, a recommendation for another course in the webinar series, or even automated certificate delivery.
Continuing Education webinars help learners earn credits in their field without interrupting their schedules and traveling long distances. They also put eLearners in touch with subject-matter experts who can help them. Therefore, they should be designed to impart practical and actionable knowledge that can be put to use by the content recipients within the context of their profession.
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For many people, traditional barriers to pursuing Continuing Education—even live webinars—include complicated work schedules, family obligations, personal commitments, and things that come up unexpectedly.
While webinars allow access to eLearning content from anywhere, using any device, the availability of on-demand content provides even greater flexibility for the busy professional. So it comes as no surprise that the demand for on-demand is growing!
In a nutshell, on-demand content refers to a catalog of recorded webinars, webcasts, and other video-based virtual events that viewers can watch at their convenience. It was once commonplace that learners had to watch an on-demand “replay” of a webinar all at once to receive their respective course credits. However, technology and the regulations set for using that technology have changed.
The best CE providers offer a platform that enables eLearning end users to view on-demand playback in segments—and they can “hold their spot” if they don’t have enough time to soak up the material in one sitting.
Recent studies also show that 26% of webinar registrants only sign up in the first place for access to the on-demand recording, emphasizing the importance of recording the session and offering it on your website, course catalog, or resource center.
What’s more, by adding on-demand content to your CE repertoire, you’re also boosting your potential to increase sales and revenue should you decide to monetize your virtual events.
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It’s estimated that by 2025, Millennials will comprise nearly 75% of the world’s workforce. And educating or training them calls for a way to meet the growing demand for a visual representation of information. To cater to this evolving workforce, businesses and CE organizations alike are turning to video for a solution.
Marketers and sales professionals have discovered that video increases engagement, social media, and email click-through rates. The time people spend on individual website pages makes it an excellent tool for getting a value proposition or message across to the viewer. Additionally, they serve as great content for “humanizing” an otherwise stale brand.
But a recent survey also found that 98% of respondents recognize the value of using video for more efficient and effective employee training—and 75% described this content delivery medium as very valuable for this purpose.
According to a 2019 study, video training was the most popular tool for offering new skills, with 78% of training managers reporting having incorporated videos into their training courses. Additionally, video training engages viewers up to 6x more than traditional lecture-style trainings.
Having an on-demand video library enables learners to search for specific topics and how-to’s that meet their “just-in-time” educational needs.
These days, providing a seamless and streamlined digital user experience is critical to your success. Your competitors are embracing modern UX trends, and therefore so must you. Achieving this relies, in part, on using an intuitive platform that allows end-users to navigate your program and consume your content easily. But, the technology you deploy shouldn’t be the star of the show.
This begs the question: what constitutes a great user experience in an eLearning setting? To ensure a high-quality UX, you must:
Find ways to captivate and engage your audience.
Create an interactive, immersive experience.
Effectively convey your message.
Make learning easy and enticing with an intuitive platform and fair pricing.
Here are a few tips and trends that can help you facilitate a user experience that accomplishes these goals while boosting enrollment and ensuring your CE course is successful.
It’s no secret that virtual Continuing Education programs appeal to learners because they are so convenient. Piggybacking on this concept, there is one increasingly popular trend that takes time savings to the next level. Enter microlearning.
As its name would suggest, microlearning refers to educational content that you receive in small doses. For example, a CE student might watch a brief series of 5-minute video clips about a particular topic and then complete a related assignment.
By serving up bite-sized bursts of highly focused content that concentrate on a single learning objective, educators can create a user experience that caters to people with full plates and requires them to apply the information directly. This is an excellent approach for supporting knowledge comprehension and retention.
We live in the age of personalization—and your eLearners expect their educational experience to be customized to meet their needs. One way to do this is to provide access to a portal or dashboard through which an end-user can retrieve all the information they need to complete a course, in addition to their grades, certificates, memberships, and other records.
A personalized CE journey, however, also gives the end-user agency when it comes to selecting the content itself. You’ll need to ask yourself these questions:
Which topics are they interested in?
Which lessons will help them at work?
How can I engage my audience?
On the other hand, for a push-based learning culture, these questions are answered for them by management or another entity. Pull-based learning empowers learners to access the information they need when they need it.
This paradigm shift puts the decision-making process in the hands of the student—and gives them the autonomy and responsibility to actively choose which resources will benefit them most.
This method assumes the learner knows what’s best for themselves and what they need to learn to improve and hinges on the belief that when people act on their own will to learn, attention and retention are enhanced.
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Spreadsheets are out. Data visualization is in. Information in a spreadsheet doesn’t make things easier for learners, right? If quantitative data will be applied in instruction or to improve training, data visualization is a significantly more effective way to get your point across.
Simply defined as the presentation of data in a visual or graphical format, data visualization enables students to view reports, results, and analytics in a visual way—which, in many cases, helps them get a better handle on complex concepts, digest a large amount of information or identify patterns.
Using graphs, charts, or other image-based representations of data to accompany text enables educators to speedily get their message across while also providing a more engaging experience.
Scenario-based learning immerses learners in a life-like simulation or storyline that requires them to solve a problem or case using information they collect and skills they develop during the session.
This educational technique also offers an opportunity for students to apply what they’ve learned from previous assignments or courses, helping them to commit their findings to long-term memory.
This active, practical application of knowledge also enables eLearners to quickly see the benefits of the material concerning their goals, ultimately making the experience more engaging and memorable than a standalone theoretical study.
When building scenarios into an eLearning course, try to include as many relevant, interactive elements as possible. In a traditional classroom setting, this might look like students participating in group activities or role-plays. But in an eLearning environment, creativity is critical.
It’s also a good idea to highlight characters to whom your eLearners can relate and perhaps leverage these characters as avatars in the educational storyline. Just be sure that the scenario is as realistic as possible while remaining focused on one learning objective.
When people first hear about gamification, it can sound a bit confusing. Gamification is not simply creating new games for business or educational purposes. The concept is about taking a program or piece of content that already exists and incorporating game mechanics to increase participation and engagement.
Educational organizations can gamify their courses or scenario-based learning modules in several ways:
Earning badges and points
Setting mission objectives
Enabling the discovery of hidden clues
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But gamification can also be competitive (in a friendly way, of course!), particularly in employee training. You can apply the same techniques mentioned earlier. Still, a leaderboard with notifications or an online community or message board can be set up to track progress and motivate learners to complete tasks and climb in the rankings.
Interestingly, gaming tends to bring out the seriousness in learners who enjoy games, as they fully immerse themselves in the “gaming process.” Talent LMS reports in their Gamification at Work Survey that 79% of learners think they would be more productive if their university, institution, or work were more game-like.
In light of this, gamification can serve as a valuable tool for sprucing up activities or topics that many would consider being tedious. A few examples of types of courses where you’d typically find gamification are traditional compliance courses, procedural training, data security, product training, and the list goes on.
The point is to make learning enjoyable enough for students to invest their time and focus in an activity they may not be excited about—and to retain information better due to that investment.
Of course, you can create various combinations of the content delivery and UX trends we’ve covered to facilitate an enjoyable and thought-provoking user experience. Video can certainly be used as a microlearning medium. Scenario-based learning can be gamified. Webinars can incorporate plenty of data visuals.
It’s best to test out a couple of techniques and see how your audience responds!
Artificial Intelligence is somewhat of a controversial topic across the education industry. People have many questions when it comes to this unfamiliar territory:
Are jobs at stake?
Will bots be teaching children complex concepts?
Will there be policies that will govern how AI can play a role in education?
What are the repercussions—and who is held accountable—when a technical malfunction or error takes place?
Of course, these questions and more are being addressed by a wide variety of researchers, developers, and stakeholders—and only time will tell how the world will incorporate machine learning on a broader scale.
However, in both undeniable and exceptionally subtle ways, AI is already profoundly influencing both our professional and personal lives. As for Continuing Education, here’s a look at how Artificial Intelligence is being used to improve the learning experience.
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It can’t be stressed enough—a one-size-fits-all approach to education doesn’t work for today’s adult eLearners. They expect that their specific learning preferences are accommodated, particularly if they’re footing the bill.
Though this concept of learner-centricity is far from its infancy, there are several innovative ways to realize it in the digital classroom now that Artificial Intelligence has broken onto the CE and corporate training scenes.
Machine learning algorithms can now analyze a student’s performance data from previous digitally logged assignments—and use that data to modify their curriculum to address topics they need to work on.
These adaptive learning systems are responsive to the needs of the individual student, helping students work at their own pace and allowing them to repeat tasks that have not yet been mastered.
According to the Artificial Intelligence Market in the US Education Sector: 2017-2021 report, analysts have forecasted this segment of the AI market will grow at a CAGR of 47.5% in four years.
Some AI-powered systems even learn in real-time as people progress through their coursework, identifying areas where they’ve lacked proficiency and highlighting that content during the lesson. This same idea rings true in an internal training program businesses might offer their employees.
Rather than making all staff members learn the same content in the same amount of time, AI can present content about each employee’s job description, as well as an online survey they fill out. Employers can offer customized content that makes the training feel relevant and goal-oriented.
Educators, this one’s specifically for you!
Indeed, on the bright side, the automation of relatively basic activities, like grading tests, can now—to a certain degree—be carried out by AI.
While intelligent systems may not ever be able to replace grading by an actual human being truly, it’s now possible for many multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank exam formats to be assessed and corrected by AI-powered software. This is a tedious manual process, so removing grading from the to-do list frees teachers and trainers to focus on other activities and interactions.
Various types of intelligent “tutoring” systems are also in the works—and these may be particularly useful for online continuing ed students who don’t exactly have a private tutor readily available to help them when they need it.
Currently, these resources take the shape of chatbots. Learners can simply consult the bot via a chat interface and receive guidance at any time, from any device. While intelligent tutoring systems are not being created to replace human teachers, their primary purpose would be to provide additional feedback and support to eLearning course participants, making it easier to understand the content and achieve better results.
It may not always be easy to pinpoint gaps in educational content or training courses that consistently leave students confused or frustrated in an eLearning environment. Artificial intelligence offers a way to identify these trends.
Today, some programs alert online CE and training program providers when many students submit the wrong answer on an assignment, which is typically a red flag concerning how the question is asked or the task is structured.
Some systems even go as far as to offer hints to the correct answer. Rather than waiting to receive feedback, students get an immediate explanation that helps them comprehend the concept and remember what to do if the topic resurfaces.
Moreover, AI-powered programs can integrate with an organization’s resource center or online library to point learners and trainees in the right direction should they need assistance during an “open-book” evaluation.
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Have you ever experienced a technical problem with your virtual event platform? Does your Learning Management System give you trouble with the accreditation process? Are you still using separate vendors to handle certificate delivery and on-demand content production—or manual processes for grading exams and sending out surveys?
These negative experiences and time-consuming activities are too common in continuing education. The good news is that you can be relieved of them if your CE, professional development, or online training program leverages top-of-the-line technology. And you don’t have to break the bank to find the right solution.
First, it’s vital that you can turn to an experienced partner that handles all the minute technical details for you. These details will set you apart from your competitors and compel your eLearners to return for another session and refer their colleagues. Still, it’s just as essential to your success to invest in a platform that encompasses both the functionality of a new LMS and the sleek interface and intuitive mechanics of proper content delivery and management system.
That being said, assessing various vendors can be a challenging task to tackle. But there are many essential attributes your Continuing Education platform should have that can be used as criteria when comparing your options.
To help you out, here is an outline of the CE and event delivery features and tools that separate the cream from the crop.
On the hunt for a contemporary Learning Management System? The best platforms are built with Continuing Education in mind and should be designed to meet your organization’s specific needs—from start to finish! When it comes to functionality, look for these ten crucial factors.
The optimal way to ensure you meet all possible CE requirements—down to the individual state level—is to use a platform that enables the creation of highly configurable certification templates. You can then design a template (or have the platform provider do this for you) that aligns with every available credit type you offer. Each template will have properties set up for the specific type of educational event you’re running, and of course, these could all be prepared either well in advance or as needed.
An effective CE solution should help your organization save hours typically spent on arduous administrative tasks. Participation tracking and verification processes should be automated (for example, event attendees could be required to submit a code via a pop-up notification box that appears randomly throughout the presentation). Plus, your CE solution should boast automated test grading capabilities, where the software itself administers the exam and transfers the results to your eLearners afterward.
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Registration should be a breeze for your eLearning audience, so don’t require them to download a separate app or plug-in! External application failures are often the cause of eLearners having problems signing into their programs. So it’s best to avoid these unforeseen technical difficulties by keeping the registration and event participation processes under one roof.
However, not all CE-related activities take place online. Your solution should allow you to manage registration, certification, and other procedures for live, in-person events, as well. What’s more, an excellent CE platform will automatically take care of delivering your email confirmations and reminders and distributing handouts and other resources.
Be ready for over a third of your audience to attend your eLearning presentations via mobile device. We’ve made a case for going mobile time and time again, and we’ll repeat ourselves now.
If your content or LMS isn’t designed with mobile viewers top of mind, you’re setting your eLearners up for a poor user experience, and you might find them giving up on you before even beginning a new course or learning module.
Plain and straightforward, superior Continuing Education platforms are specifically built to support accrediting bodies of many types. If you aren’t partnering with a provider who can help you in this endeavor, it’s time to move on and find a better solution.
Once educational content has been consumed by your customer or end-user, the logical next step in most CE workflows would be to give them a test. This can be optional, of course, and including a quiz or exam may depend on the requirements set by national accrediting bodies to which your organization must adhere.
However, the event workflow might also include data collection, surveys, knowledge checks, etc. The ability to customize the format is as crucial as offering these elements. Ask about this flexibility when talking to a new vendor.
There’s no question it should be easy for your LMS to deliver a post-event evaluation that allows your learners to answer survey questions and submit feedback you can use to improve your course content and delivery. Like other administrative features, this process should be set up to happen after your event ends automatically.
Similarly, your platform should be able to generate and deliver an official certificate of completion to end-users and allow them to store that information in a personal profile or account. Again, the primary point here is that these automated processes occur in your all-in-one solution. No disparate applications are necessary!
Monetizing your eLearning courses and other virtual events? Then you must invest in a CE platform with built-in e-commerce capabilities. Not only should you be able to collect funds, but there should also be functionality included that supports sponsorship and advertising models.
You also need a secure (and SSL-certified!) platform that enables customers to safely make purchases and other transactions where personal information is exchanged. Moreover, the technology you use must comply with laws and regulations that require a solid legal basis for storing customer financial data (think about your international customers and how GDPR has impacted the data privacy landscape).
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While you may partner with another company that offers a learning management product, that doesn’t mean it can’t be customized to align with your organization’s logo, color scheme, and other branding guidelines. The views and dashboards you create for both the back end and the user-facing profiles should be highly configurable. The right solution will allow you to customize to your heart’s content!
Having the capability to pass information back and forth with your customer relationship management and marketing automation systems is also essential should you need to link these databases. When searching for a CE platform vendor, ensure they have the technical expertise to provide a successful series of integrations.
Learning Management System essentials are necessary to execute a professional eLearning experience seamlessly. However, streamlined event delivery matters, too.
Whether you’re looking for a full-service solution that leverages an experienced team of CE service professionals, or you’re ready to use an intuitive cloud-based solution yourself, the following elements are what you need to look for in a CE platform to deliver flawless virtual events:
Suppose you’re serious about creating sleek and professional webinars for your target audience and looking for a reliable, hassle-free solution.
The best providers offer their customers a wide range of virtual event capabilities—and webinars designed for Continuing Education courses, lead generation campaigns, paid-to-attend events, and more.
In that case, we recommend working with a vendor with specific experience in the complex CE and professional development industries. You’ll always want to make sure your LMS platform can record these virtual events for on-demand viewing, which helps increase the ROI of your eLearning courses.
Have plans to broadcast a live CE class or seminar? Would you like it to be transformed into an online experience for a larger audience? You may want to consider working with a partner that offers videography and on-site technical services.
Be sure that the platform you choose empowers you to stream your event using browser-based webcasting tools easily. Particularly for large companies hosting virtual town halls and corporate meetings, this functionality can come in handy!
Interactive tools prompt your viewers to physically involve themselves in content presentation, keeping them alert and interested. The list of ways to make your virtual events more engaging and powerful is a lengthy one:
Streaming audio and video playback
Conducting surveys and polls
Leveraging chat and Q&A tools
Integrating with social media
You can use many tactics to facilitate a more interactive experience for your CE program participants, so it’s best to equip yourself with the tools you need to bring your audience engagement ideas to fruition.
On-demand content is the gift that keeps on giving! Be sure you can repurpose each of your virtual events by recycling them into a custom media library for future orders and replays.
As we’ve stated before, on-demand is a growing trend that gives your audience more flexibility, allowing them to access your excellent video content in any order they like. And since learn-at-your-own pace formats are becoming increasingly popular, you must offer a fully-functional on-demand option to ensure your courses’ customer experience is positive and unparalleled.
Many virtual event delivery platforms fail to accommodate an audience of more than 50 to 100 people. They aren’t virtual event delivery platforms. They’re web conferencing solutions trying to pass themselves off as something else.
So if you plan on opening up your eLearning course or LMS platform to your entire operation or marketing it to an entire industry, you need to make sure your solution is scalable so that you can accommodate all interested eLearners.
If you host significant events where eLearners are logging in from remote locations on multiple types of devices, it’s vital that your platform can scale to reach thousands of people without crashing.
When you’re lining up your CE platform options side by side and trying to figure out what matters most, you can safely refer to the criteria outlined in previous sections of this guide. But don’t forget—there are a few technological terrors you’ll want to avoid.
Requiring eLearners to download a plug-in creates an extra step that can be very frustrating from a UX perspective—not to mention risky. It's impossible to know how reliable that integration will be because you don’t control how some plug-ins interact with your individual eLearners’ devices and browsers.
Consider it a red flag if your eLearning platform doesn’t work without downloading extra software. Your new LMS should offer cloud-based solutions for maximum functionality.
Adobe Flash was once considered one of the best solutions for designing and displaying visual media, interactive content, and even whole websites.
But that’s all changed. Responsible technology professionals—and those who work with them—have transitioned to using HTML5, which provides built-in browser support and eliminates any need for external plug-ins or downloads.
What’s more, Adobe discontinued updates to and distribution of Flash in 2020 and encouraged content creators to migrate their Flash content to new open formats. This was for a good reason. Flash quickly drains battery life, but it’s also more easily susceptible to malware, and perhaps most importantly—it’s not compatible with mobile.
On both the back end and user-facing sides, the days of manual functions are coming to an end. Learners using multiple platforms to complete one activity, phone calls placed to order certificates, filling out paperwork: who wants to deal with all of that?
No one! As you automate more learner actions, fewer mistakes are made, and a seamless user experience is created.
Whether you are creating an online course for educators, healthcare workers, or legal professionals, you’ll need to take the time to ensure you offer an effective educational experience on a high-quality LMS platform.
Avoid solutions that require your LMS team or participants to manually grade, schedule, or operate. This will take time away from true learning experiences and open the door for more user errors that will impede the learning process.
Having worked with numerous Continuing Education providers, bar associations, higher education institutions, and membership organizations, we’ve learned a thing or two about eLearning.
With the wide selection of authoring tools and other curriculum-building technologies available today, creating an eLearning course is significantly more accessible than it used to be. But, completing a meaningful, stimulating, engaging eLearning course? That involves a lot more strategy and expertise.
We’ve compiled a solid list of eLearning course creation best practices to give you a leg up on your competitors. The success tips below will help you generate fresh ideas for inspiring your learners that you can use throughout your program.
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First, we have the eLearning do’s. If you’re looking for a new spin on an old lesson, try implementing one of these techniques.
Each idea will help you improve engagement and information retention—two things educators and trainers always like to see!
Storytelling is one of the biggest current communication trends in education and all industries. Marketing and salesforce professionals in every field—from manufacturing to retail to hospitality to software—leverage storytelling throughout their company websites and content to appeal to their prospects and customers.
Why? The answer is simple: storytelling has been scientifically proven to increase comprehension and retention.
Marketers and salespeople use storytelling to connect with buyers and make their products and services memorable. When we experience an event that brings out an emotion, a chemical called dopamine is released into our systems.
For education, dopamine activates the reward center in our brains when we learn something new and exciting or make some kind of mental breakthrough. In this sense, the chemical acts like a “save button,” helping us recall details and remember the information we learn during these moments with better accuracy.
To use storytelling effectively, use these tips:
For live events, use body language, facial expressions, and voice modulation to engage your viewers.
Choose words that create a dramatic, suspenseful, engaging tone for written content.
Use descriptive language to help paint a mental picture.
Craft a distinct beginning, middle, and end.
Always end your story with the main takeaway to ensure eLearners understand the purpose of your story.
As you work with your LMS platform, use relatable stories and real-life examples to explain concepts and provide a context for your learning objectives. Your eLearners will be more invested in the content, and their performance will reflect that.
One surefire way to increase novelty in a virtual classroom setting is to incorporate interactive content into your curriculum. According to a recent report from SnapApp, 45% of people (with Millennials leading the charge) rank interactive content among their top three preferred types of content. But what exactly does that mean?
Interactive content is content that requires a participant’s active engagement to be consumed, as opposed to simply reading or watching something.
The interactive nature of the content requires an eLearner to perform basic physical actions while learning the material. This might look like:
Selecting preferences from a menu
Hovering over an image to reveal hidden content
Clicking to answer a question
Using drag-and-drop functionality
Speaking into a microphone
The whole point is to keep your eLearners involved in a tangible or tactile manner instead of having them passively watch, listen to or read what’s in front of them.
So ensure your LMS features are geared towards engagement. Not only are the interactions they’re having with the content commanding their attention, but it also makes the learning experience more engaging.
Ah, the good, old-fashioned Rule of Three. Its benefits have been reaped by writers, politicians, stage performers, and, of course, educators for decades upon decades.
The general idea of the Rule of Three is that information should be presented in small segments—including no more than three key points at a time—so that students are better able to commit what they learn to working memory.
This eLearning “Do” aligns well with the previously mentioned concept of microlearning. To effectively integrate these principles into your learning session, break up content into bite-sized chunks, in which your students learn three key points that apply to one particular objective.
It’s a wise idea to incorporate some repetition of the three points into the lesson to drive home the message of your learning content. People naturally appreciate when things come in threes—and your eLearners will too when their next test comes around!
Utilizing a reliable, user-friendly content delivery and management platform is essential for any continuing education event. While your content should capture the attention of your learners, the tools and technology are what’s going to allow them to access and navigate it in a streamlined manner.
Therefore, Continuing Education providers and businesses offering employee training should work with a state-of-the-art solution that suits not only their organization’s needs but the needs of their end-users, as well.
Your virtual events should also appear as polished as possible and be delivered via high-quality learning management software. You should consistently execute your eLearning courses without a hitch.
Don’t use a product that requires your participants to download an external plug-in or use some other application to log into a class. Instead, find a highly customizable platform that covers all your bases—content delivery, content management, registration, test grading, certificate delivery—and do some research to find the right fit.
Next, we have a shortlist of things NOT to do when developing and delivering an online seminar or training program for your group of eLearners. Avoid these missteps to keep your organization from being out of touch!
You know what they say… A picture is worth a thousand words. Albeit an idiom, numerous studies have supported that visual content helps us understand and retain information better than text does by itself.
We’re hardwired to learn and make connections with our sense of sight. 90% of the information we send to our brains is visual! And did you know that the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than it processes text?
In education, compelling visual content—like diagrams, graphs, maps or instructional videos, animations, and narrated slideshows—has become a significant and necessary component of successful online learning. While peer-reviewed articles and scholarly journals are still substantial for many industry-specific Continuing Ed programs, there’s no reason why course creators, presenters, and educators can’t support that content with engaging visual stimuli.
Photo by Marcus Aurelius
Throughout the modern era of education, there has been much debate about how frequently students should be tested on their learning material. While offering one final exam as the pinnacle of an eLearning course may sound convenient—and even motivational—some reports contradict the efficacy of this approach.
Renowned cognitive psychologist Henry L. Roediger III has studied how the brain stores and retrieves memories. He argues that educators should conduct testing early on (and often) to augment learning during the course or module rather than delivering a single formal exam at the end. His research suggests that being quizzed on material multiple times can have a more significant positive effect on future retention than repeatedly spending an equal amount of time restudying.
Why does this work so well? Instead of reabsorbing information from a source in front of them (their notes, for example), students must actively retrieve it from their memories. Even if they don’t produce high marks on the first test, that outcome is much more likely to change in the long run.
Interestingly, testing more frequently also keeps students from procrastinating and “cramming” before the final assessment.
No doubt, you’ve heard it before—but everybody learns differently. If you were to categorize the most common “styles” of learning, you’d have your visual, audio, verbal, and kinesthetic learners. And while catering to these various styles within an eLearning environment may seem more challenging, it’s doable if you think outside the box.
As they say… Different strokes for different folks! And that goes for eLearning, too. Here are some examples of learning styles you need to account for to ensure your eLearning course is successful.
What It Means
How To Accommodate
Learners need visual aids to best process the information
Learners need to hear information to absorb it.
Learners need hands-on experiences to learn the content best.
Learners need to write out content themselves to learn it.
Even if it produces a heavier workload during course creation time, an ideal method for eLearning would be to mix and match mediums and accompany the text with other pieces of supporting content. Presenting a topic in various ways makes for a more compelling experience, but it also helps students digest the material to make sense to them.
While visual learners might appreciate infographics, charts, and illustrations, audio learners could prefer narrated explainer videos and podcast clips.
Verbal learners learn best when they have the opportunity to talk things out, so creating discussion boards, offering virtual “office hours,” or incorporating Q&A into live webinar sessions will provide the support they’re looking for.
And finally, kinesthetic learners do best when each of their senses is fully engaged. This is where interactive content and “in-the-field” projects come in handy!
To make your online training couriers more effective, always consider different learning styles and design your educational content to appeal to multiple styles. This will ensure your participants easily meet your courses’ learning objectives.
Last but not least, don’t drop the ball by refusing to modify your eLearning course after receiving suggestions from your participants. Sure, it might only be one thing, but delivery is in the details!
While your post-presentation evaluations or end-of-class surveys may rake in a ton of praise, there’s always room for improvement, particularly as learning trends change and technology evolves.
It is best practice to ask your participants to complete a brief 5-minute survey at the end of your eLearning course. Be sure to include the following questions:
Why did you choose online learning?
What stood out during your eLearning experience?
What LMS features were particularly effective or engaging?
What information could be reorganized or displayed in a better way?
Would you sign up for another course provided by this company?
Your attendees are well equipped to provide high-quality feedback on adult learning, so always offer them the opportunity to speak their minds.
If you’re given a sensible or innovative idea from someone in the class, why not put it to good use? Evaluate your course and make adjustments to accommodate the suggestions of your past attendees.
Once you’ve refreshed your courses, communicate with past eLearners to tell them of your new and improved courses. You may find them rushing to sign up for your next course after they’ve learned about all the changes you made based on their feedback.
Not only will this help your registration numbers, but it will help you build strong relationships with your target audience to boost ROI and your courses’ reputation.
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While eLearning is an exciting practice that offers Continuing Education students of all ages great opportunities to grow and build their careers, the technology and techniques your organization brings to the table can make or break their experience.
You must design your eLearning courses to target specific learning goals and appeal to a wide variety of online learners. If you don’t, you may struggle to build your registrations and fulfill the needs of your target audience.
We hope you’ve found the tips and insights in this guide valuable as you evaluate your course design and eLearning or training platform. If you have any questions about our content or services, please don’t hesitate to reach out!
Interested in learning more about our robust, mobile-friendly solutions? Simply contact us today to request a guided tour of Beacon360 with one of our technology specialists!
Choose the right topic, include engaging content, and build an agenda for participants to craft a successful online education program.
Yes. Ensure the accessibility of your online event by offering closed captioning and making your content compatible with accessibility software.
CE stands for continuing education. CEU stands for a continuing education unit, which equals 10 hours of participation in a continuing education course.