How to Evaluate Internet-Based Continuing Education Services
By: Gary Henkel, CEO of FuneralCE
Few would disagree with the observation that the Internet has already profoundly changed the world. One new and exciting application is web-delivered continuing education (CE). Now, funeral industry professionals can instantly select, order and complete state-approved correspondence courses from the comfort of their desk. Once the course is completed, a state-approved exam can be administered online and the results immediately validated.
The benefits offered by Internet-based CE services are compelling:
* Conserve quality time online courses enable funeral industry professionals to complete their required CE hours at times most convenient to them. For example, last-minute appointment cancellations or studying from home are common ways to save precious time.
* Save travel costs web-based CE reduces the need for off-site classes or seminars.
* Consistent Curriculum All employees can take the identical topic at different times and receive consistent information about relevant topics.
* Simplified Administration Updated CE records are automatically stored and retrievable, thereby eliminating data entry errors.
How to Evaluate a Web-based CE Service
Although potential benefits of online CE services are great, not all companies offer the same levels of service. Here's a checklist that will help you select a company that is best aligned with your CE needs.
1. Online CE should be fast
Not everyone has high-speed access to the Internet. If your Internet connection is slow, make sure you select an online CE course that minimizes bandwidth consumption. Text-based courses may be your best option. FuneralCE courses, for example, were designed to support fast response times, even over slow dialup connections.
2. Toll-free customer care and fulfillment center
To simplify the first-time use of a Web-based CE service, toll-free "human-to-human" customer assistance, not just e-mail assistance, is extremely helpful.
3. Ubiquitous Internet delivery
Online CE courses should be deliverable to any web browser, not just PC's using Microsoft Operating Systems. The same CE courses should also be available to Firefox browsers.
4. Web Browser plugin's
Some Internet-based CE applications require users to download special programs called "plugin's" before the customer can take the CE course. Plugin's can be a hassle. You want to be able to easily use a web-based CE service armed only with an "out-of-the-box" PC and browser. This will reduce frustration and minimize technical support requirements.
5. Secure web site
Not all CE services securely encrypt the data as it travels between your browser to their web server. FuneralCE always secures your credit card data, Social Security number (used by some states as the license number) and other personal information.
6. Guarantee of privacy
You should insist on a simple but comprehensive privacy statement, one that clearly states how any data collected about you would be used.
7. Automatic CE compliance tracking
Proactive and automatic CE compliance tracking is very useful for licensed professionals. Make sure it's available and included in the course prices.
8. Are the CE courses available nationally?
CE courses that are available nationally have been rigorously reviewed and approved in all states allowing correspondence-based CE. Generally, the quality of nationally distributed courses is high.
9. Low cost
Look for a commitment to high quality courses at attractive prices. Is the efficiency of the Internet reflected in the CE vendor's prices?
The benefits of web-based CE are enormous. However, like any technology, only a few well-managed companies will survive and prosper. These criteria should help you select a service you will happily use for years to come.
FuneralCE is a nationwide provider of continuing education courses for the funeral industry. The Ohio Funeral Directors Association has teamed with FuneralCE to offer its members a convenient way to fulfill their CE requirements. For more information on OFDA's course offerings through FuneralCE, go to http://ofda.webce.com