As we’ve mentioned in the previous blog, the world of Continuing Education (CE) is filled with deadlines, many of which surround certification and whether a professional is in compliance with those deadlines. For most in the CE world, this is as far as maintaining compliance goes, but if you are going to build your own online continuing education management system (CEMS), you have to consider all the other myriad ways the concept of compliance can impact the way you build your CEMS.
First there is what we just talked about, ensuring your learners can maintain their CE compliance. Most people think, well once a learner completes a course, they receive their certificate and print it to show they obtained those CEUs and are in compliance. Depending on how you build your system, it can actually get a bit tricky. For instance, what date really determines the learner’s completion date of the course they just took? Is it the date of the event? Or could it be the date they completed the mandatory evaluation of the course? What happens if they complete the mandatory evaluation a few days after the event, what is their real completion date? Given the critical importance of the completion date to a professional’s accreditation, your CEMS must be built to handle this situation, and many more.
Now, let’s shift the compliance discussion from the learner to your CEMS that you’ve decided to build. As the builder of your own CEMS, you must be aware of standards and compliance your CEMS must uphold to be a viable solution.
For instance, if your CEMS processes online credit card transactions, it must be Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant. These standards govern the security measures around protecting your customers’ payment card data. Imagine the horrors you’d unleash if your learners’ credit card information was hacked! And, due the constantly evolving skills hackers’ exhibit, these compliance requirements are frequently upgraded. To underscore the importance of PCI compliance, there are a number of penalties for non-compliance. These range from fines of $5,000-$500,000, revocation of your merchant account (making it impossible to accept credit cards at all) and being placed on the Terminated Merchant File which makes you ineligible for another merchant account for several years. All of which pales in comparison to the lawsuits angry customers could bring against you!
Another, more recently relevant area of compliance is American Disabilities Act (ADA) or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. These compliance standards ensure that web content is more accessible to individuals with disabilities. These guidelines help ensure content can be perceived and navigated by individuals with disabilities as well as the assistive technologies they rely upon. So it is more than just font size or color, it requires specific coding and meeting certain coding standards. Knowing this, and being in compliance is key since you wouldn’t want to have to shut down your site for a number of weeks to recode it.
As you consider building your CEMS, be sure to consider all the different ways you will be expected to maintain compliance – both for your users as well as the CEMS that you’ve built to support your users. The examples above are just a few of the many licensure and compliance standards you would have to meet and maintain.