Developing Online Courses - Why Accreditation And Webinars Are The Perfect Commercial Mix

Chris Darch
25-Jul-2019 15:03:00

CPD, CPE, CME and CE. All acronyms that refer to continuing education and professional development.

The requirement for professionals to maintain their knowledge and skill after leaving formal education is often compulsory and is essential for ensuring that employees within that profession stay up-to-date with the latest research, legislation and techniques.  

Usually, the individual has to collect a minimum number of ‘points’, or ‘hours’, by taking certain courses or participating in online study, each year.

Traditionally the administrators have been professional societies/associations/institutions such as (using the legal example) the Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority.

However, more recently, specialist business information companies such as LexisNexis have also become the go-to purveyors of this continuing knowledge development.  

Even publishers have got in on the game with trade publications, such as Law.com and The Lawyer, aligning themselves with accrediting bodies to issue CPD points and certification.

Who can issue CPD points/accreditation?

Not just any publishers of business information can get in on the act.  

Professional development points and accreditation need to be awarded by, or approved by, a professional body representing that industry in order to have any weight. Often, the accreditation means nothing without the accompanying accrediting body’s stamp of approval.

What is the criteria that people have to meet to get certified?

Different professions set different criteria for issuing and collecting CPD points. Often, it’s as straightforward as simply attending.  

However, sometimes the requirement is more taxing, with the user required to answer a number of questions correctly during the course or after, in order to gain their points and certification.

Many companies have just lately picked up on using webinars as a certification method. Why is that?

The road to this point has, by no means been easy.  

Early CPD webinars would often offer a very poor user experience with flat, plain slide content (no rich media) played through a beige and unbranded platform. They would often fail during the course, due to poor platforms and slow connectivity, resulting in both presenters and attendees being frustrated.

For this reason, CPD webinars used to be more trouble than they were worth for the organisers.

I say this, because they were unable to brand or customize the experience - having to dumb-down the course and strip out any animations and rich-media so the webinar platform could cope with it. Hours were spent developing online training courses, figuring out who attended, if they met the criteria, and then manually issuing points and certificates.

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What made accrediting bodies such as AMA, Law Society and CIM start using webinars for developing online courses?

One of the main reasons why companies started to look more into webinar online courses were options like personalization, branding and attendee engagement options.

There are so many features that companies can make use of, when using the right webinar platforms for their needs, which now include:

  • Resources
  • Integrations
  • Modern interface
  • Q&A
  • Polls
  • Built-in tests
  • CPD certificates
  • Data insights
  • No attendee limits
  • And so much more!

Online accreditation can be awarded and collected through a number of different online mediums such as e-learning courses, webinars, video webcasts and virtual conferences.  

All of the testing, grading and certification can be highly automated, which reduces the level of effort for the organizer.  

At WorkCast, we work with leading accrediting bodies, such as Law Society, AMA, Chartered Institute of Marketing and also with business information providers like RELX and UBM Advanstar - covering disciplines ranging from veterinary and human medicine, to legal, marketing and information security.

They all use CPD webinars because they see them as a flexible, feature-rich way to both engage their audiences and offer the proper accreditation. 

With the ability to host audiences of up to 50,000 per event, the cost per event and ROI, CPD webinars outstrip anything achievable with conventional physical events and even conventional online training platforms.

How do online CPD events make money?

Webinars, webcasts and virtual events can be monetized in different ways.  

The main business models that companies usually opt for are:

  • Member access only
  • Paid access
  • Sponsorships

Which model you choose depends on the profession, exclusivity, value and on how you plan on delivering the content.

Some companies might find it difficult to get delegates to pay for CPD, but it's relatively easy to attract sponsors who are looking to generate leads from your membership base. For some companies, it’s the other way around. 

In our experience CPD webinars and virtual events can drive very large attendance numbers, therefore commanding significant sponsor fees.

Conclusion

We will see online accreditation for professional bodies and publishers growing exponentially in the coming years.  

Previously, only the large organizations were able to take advantage of these professional development tools.  

But with smarter, cost effective and automated platforms now available, the overheads of the past can be removed.  

The audience experience is also better with rich media content, such as embedded videos and animations - all now supported on online training courses. The attendees can now log back in at a later date, to complete the tests and the platform will remember them.  

We are constantly working on combining the intelligence of e-learning platforms with the engaging nature of live webinars, webcasts and virtual events.  This enables our clients to segment out these lucrative online events as new commercial revenue streams.

 

Want to find out more about how webinars can maximize your online training? Check out our free webinar!

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