In the spring of 2020, many training centers and schools faced a new way of teaching and testing – online. With these challenges facing their accredited programs, NCCER stepped up to see how we could help make things easier.
As virtual classes took over education, NCCER and Pearson partnered to see how we could assist in making the move online as simple as possible. With many of NCCER’s most popular titles already in digital format, instructors had the choice between using NCCERconnect or Pearson eTexts.
Pearson eTexts represent digital versions of the student editions of textbooks, but also allow for highlighting, notes and other features. These eTexts help increase access for students while NCCERconnect offers more features. As an online course management solution by Pearson, NCCERconnect contains rich media eText, a gradebook and multimedia library for many of NCCER’s most popular titles. To help with the unexpected move, Pearson provided free access to instructors and students through the end of the spring term.
In addition, we created a Virtual Training Page that includes links to webinars, FAQs and more. Pearson and NCCER offered trainings via webinar on how to use each feature to instructors new to using these resources.
With training moved digital, many instructors were tackling virtual testing as well. As with eTexts, online testing was not a new concept for NCCER. In fact, our current testing system has processed over 1 million tests in the last three years.
With experience gained through establishing and enhancing the system, a core group of individuals were tasked to see how NCCER could offer more support to those testing online, some for the first time ever.
One of the challenges in front of this taskforce was the importance of keeping the integrity of NCCER credentials intact. Cathy Tyler, NCCER Director of Accreditation, Audit, Customer Service and Registry, shared, “Historically, our knowledge-based module tests were not allowed to be delivered virtually.”
Yet, it was critical for students and trainees to take module tests while not able to be in the same room.
The solution? Remote proctoring.
“To better assist our accredited training sponsors, we developed a plan to temporarily adjust our guidelines to allow remote proctoring of our module tests,” said Allyson Butts, NCCER Director of Testing and Sponsor Training.
One of the key components to offering remote proctoring was to only permit testing through NCCER’s online testing system, which delivers tests securely. To support the implementation of remote proctoring, NCCER provided training via webinars for both the testing system and remote proctoring. To ensure the integrity of virtual testing, video recording was required, as well as having auditors join each session.
Once training was scheduled for remote proctoring, we encountered another roadblock. Proctors were not always able to log into the training webinars due to time constraints. Tyler and Butts again worked with the taskforce to find a solution.
In a few short days, the training webinar was recorded, moved to a learning management system, and provided as an on-demand video course. This allowed proctors to complete the training during a time that best fit their schedule.
Once proctors were trained and ready to begin remote proctoring, auditors were scheduled to attend the testing sessions. In order to support as many sessions as possible, NCCER’s network stepped up to help. From NCCER CEO Don Whyte to Dr. Mittie Cannon, founder of Power UP, auditors came from a wide range of NCCER’s accredited organizations. These auditors were committed to keep testing going for students and trainees and happy to do so.
While 2020 will undoubtedly be remembered for the changes it brought, NCCER remains steadfast in their mission to build a safe, productive and sustainable workforce of craft professionals. Between eTexts and online testing, NCCER continues to enhance their systems to better serve their accredited network.