A Guide to CBT Recordkeeping Software

Multiple options should be available for grouping students, exporting data, and accessing the records.

DURING the past few years, safety professionals worldwide have been observing the developments in CD-ROM and online training courseware. The advantages of training with these formats are numerous. Most vendors and safety professionals alike appreciate computer-based training (CBT) for the benefits of being interactive, constant, and global; availability; reducing training time and costs; and allowing self-paced learning. The actual training courseware, however, is only half of what you should be looking for from your CBT training program.

A learning management system (LMS) should accompany your CBT courseware. Most software-based courseware on the market comes complete with an LMS or some administrative software. Some are more robust than others, but it is important that your investment in online and/or CD-ROM training includes recordkeeping. When looking at courseware, you also should take the record management system into consideration. It is important the recordkeeping be as user-friendly as the courseware is for your student?s.

Recordkeeping is an important aspect of your health and safety initiatives and a critical component of regulatory training--n. Not only for compliance training, but for benchmarking, tracking progress or regression, and keeping overall tabs on your safety training's impact. New technologies allow us to tie our recordkeeping functions directly to CBT training formats. The automated process of recordkeeping saves safety professionals and training manager?s time and makes CBT training more cost effective. It also takes the anxiety out of audits and minimizes the possibility of fines. Recordkeeping software will make any training administrator or safety professional's job easier.

There are some important aspects to look for when choosing your recordkeeping management software.

Choosing the Right Software?
Your recordkeeping software should have the power to record training the same way as you would by hand. Multiple options should be available for grouping students, exporting data, and accessing the records. Using your recordkeeping software should not be equivalent to conducting brain surgery; a recordkeeping system that is not user-friendly is not worth having.

You want to include your IT staff or your systems management team. Their involvement will help you choose a software program that works with your existing systems, as well as ease the implementation process down the road. Here are some options to look for when choosing your recordkeeping software:

Groups
The administrator should be able to assign and group students into departments or sub-departments. This allows course access and curriculum to be designated to the proper employee. When your employee signs on, he should have access to only the courses you have assigned based upon a job function. This helps keep training distributed to the correct workforce and eases confusion among employees.

Employee ID
The administrator should have the ability to set exact specifications for the student's log-in. Companies differ in how they identify their employees; large organizations use employee ID numbers or Social Security numbers, while smaller organizations may use a naming convention, such as "B Davis." Your recordkeeping software should be flexible enough to allow you to use the most convenient form of employee registration.

Messages
The employees must be able to communicate with the training administrator and the administrator should be able to answer back, and vicse versa. Most message systems with recordkeeping software function similar to e-mail. When the administrator or a student logs into the system, it should be apparent there is a communication for him or her to review. You should check for messages repeatedly throughout the day, especially when you are aware training is taking place.

Record sorting
This is very important for safety professionals: You want to look for multiple sorting options. At a minimum, you should be able to sort by name or employee identification, department, sub-department, date, course, time or grade. Records should be printable and have the option to export to another database format, such as Microsoft Excel.

Passing grade
Administrators have the option to set the passing grade for course quizzes. You also should have the option to set a pre-test and remediation if an answer is incorrect.

Question pool
Quiz questions should be drawn from a random pool of questions. Random questions avoid memorization or knowledge passage between employees who are taking the training at different times. You want to be sure your employee?s are thoroughly learning when taking training courses and using that knowledge to answer quiz questions honestly. You should be able to select how many questions you would like to have per quiz, as well as be able to customize questions, especially for site-specific material.

Future & refresher training
The administrator should be able to set a specific timeframe for retraining employees. You should have the ability to set this at the department, sub-department, or student level. For compliance reasons, some courses may need to be reviewed annually or semi-annually. This feature will help you stay proactive about which employees need training and when they need to receive it.

Choosing the Right Vendor
Your recordkeeping software vendor should provide you with a number of support options. An easy-to-use program should be easy to implement, however, the vendor should be there to assist you through the process. You may find it beneficial to have contact between your IT staff and the vendor's IT staff during implementation. Be aware of hidden costs for implementation and IT support.

The vendor also should provide training for all of your administrators on how to use the product effectively. Training can take place either on site or via a Web demo but should be comprehensive. Your training staffers should understand both the recordkeeping software and the courseware so they can accurately answer student questions. Finally, the vendor should supply you with continuous IT support. You should be able to contact your sales representative or an IT staff member to answers your questions after the purchase. Your vendor should have an IT hotline that is available 24/7. Industrial employee training occurs around the clock; your vendor should recognize that the flexibility in training time is a key reason why a customer purchases CBT courseware. They should be available to support you any shift, any day, and any time. Ongoing support is critical when implementing any software, and this is an important aspect to look for when choosing a vendor.

Choose an established vendor with a good track record. Your vendor should provide you with references of people who have used its product. Many vendors have white papers or case studies that are available on their Web site or by calling your sales representative. You want to know who produced the software:, your vendor or another party. Through the implementation process, you will find that a vendor who produced the software is likely to be more knowledgeable and helpful.

Once your recordkeeping software is in place, register your self to take courses just as your students would. Understand the student side and how it affects the recordkeeping side. This is an excellent way to test the system. Make sure the software is running smoothly and doing the job for you. Ongoing evaluation will eliminate any potential for glitches in the system.

Summary
Recordkeeping software is an important aspect to look at when choosing CBT training. It is easy to concentrate on the student side of CBT training and overlook the recordkeeping software that compliments your CBT. There are many benefits of recordkeeping software, and once the software is implemented you will find it makes your job easier and saves your company time and money.

Keep the above tips in mind when reviewing recordkeeping software as part of your CBT training initiatives. If you find the right fit when it comes to the software and the vendor, than implementing recordkeeping software and using it should be trouble-free.

This article originally appeared in the July 2004 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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