Over the past year, the pandemic has forced the temporary closure of offices, institutions and public centres across the world.
For many professional bodies and awarding organisations, home working has enabled them to continue administrating their learning or CPD services through centre portals. But the examination of many high-level qualifications has been extremely challenging to manage remotely.
In these cases, and for those that prefer an in-person to an online learner journey, the reopening of learning centres is an important step in restarting their career development and returning to normality. This is also the perfect time for awarding bodies to examine the often-arduous administration entailed in supporting these centres.
The correct tool to streamline these processes are centre portals. These authorised-access websites integrate closely with the awarding bodies core CRM database to facilitate the far more efficient management of multiple learning centres and examinations. Centre portals allow administrators within these centres to log-in and access all the information they need to teach and test learners as they move through the course structure. And for the awarding body, this delivers a significant benefit in three key areas.
Learning programmes present a substantial revenue stream for professional bodies and awarding organisations. And just like any product, the course itself will have a brand value that dictates its popularity and thus, how much can be charged for it. Any learning centre is a primary touchpoint for this brand and so it is vital that only the best are successfully accredited.
A centre portal plays an important part in this process by helping new learning centres with access to all the information they need to become accredited efficiently. This is centralised within the portal and automatically updated with every correspondence and checklist item recorded. Once complete, the portal continues to support learning centres and maintain operational standards as they accept students and operate examinations. The design and usability of the portal also fulfils another important role by clearly demonstrating the standards that are expected of the organisation and its partners.
Once the learning centre is accredited and accepting students, the hard work of administration begins. With every learner comes a complete set of documentation that follows them throughout their learning journey. As they acquire qualifying experience, it needs to be added to their records and be available to them and the learning centres handing their examinations. Each module that is attempted, failed or passed then helps to determine the next stage of learning to be delivered. A typical learner journey can have multiple stages such as:
- Learner signs up for a qualification
- They make payments, complete a registration and a learner record is created
- This allows access to a self-service function and a personalised repository of information
- Access rights are granted for the appropriate learning materials via a single sign-on
- Learner information is simultaneously shared with any e-assessment or essential platforms
- Exams are scheduled and conducted either in-person or via a “remote proctored” method where a webcam ensures proper conduct
- Results are process and shared with the learner and any necessary professional bodies
- The next stage of qualification is determined and offered directly for continuation
Managing this manually is an enormous task for a single organisation. But ensuring that every part of each learners’ journey is current and correct across multiple centres can be exponentially harder. By allowing learner centres to self-service these documents and using an integrated CRM to securely manage the information and handle essential updates and communication, centre portals make this task achievable for all sizes of awarding body.
To maintain the highest standards across all learner journeys, it is occasionally necessary to apply restrictions to under-performing or non-compliant learning centres. This can occur due to non-payment of fees to the awarding body or as a result of other concerns that might impinge on the brand value of the qualification itself. These restrictions can take a number of forms but can begin with updates and information being held back from certain centres until a situation is resolved.
Understanding where each centre is in its payment schedule and managing any subsequent restriction manually is extremely challenging. The matrix of CPD, qualifications and centres can be complex and overlapping. A centre portal simplifies this by providing clear analytics to spot any issues in their earliest stages, allowing awarding bodies to take prompt remedial action when required and providing the tools to easily lift restrictions when necessary.
CPD and qualifications products have the potential to support learners’ careers while growing revenue and building brand value for awarding organisations and professional bodies. However, without an integrated solution to reduce manual administration and ensure high standards, these offerings can carry significant risk. A modern centre portal solution places all the information and tools required in a single application and helps ensure that any return on investment is maximised.
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