The Texas Society of Professional Surveyors has a tradition of taking new steps in Education. I can still remember my first Seminar from Ken Gold on the “Minimum Standards of Practice”, one of the very first continuing education unit seminars. In recent times, a fresh approach by the Course Developers Workshops and Speaker Development Workshops have changed our educational offerings by incorporating adult learning techniques and activities to enrich learning, make it more interesting and a much better learning experience. Our education has expanded with new courses and current topics helping to keep surveyors abreast of current technology and topics dealing with better surveying and business techniques. The development of new courses and training of new speakers takes time and the number of volunteers is thinning. In order to reach more students with more courses we must stretch our imagination and reach out to embrace new technology to aid us in an additional direction.
Most colleges, technical schools and other educational institutions have incorporated online or distance learning courses to help expand educational offerings and so too will TSPS. In 2015, the Education Committee had Joe Paiva from GeoLearn do a presentation to the committee about online courses that they offered to the national surveying community. Most of the education committee saw that the courses were of a professional quality that TSPS would be glad to be associated with. We have asked GeoLearn to get 15 of their courses approved for continuing education credits for Registered Professional Surveyor in Texas. This has been done and there will be a link on the TSPS website in the near future (which should be used for us to get credit) to the courses.
An online learning portal can improve member services, capture lost revenue and upgrade the level of professional knowledge, improving public impression of the members and the services they provide.
Regardless of the quality and frequency of your association’s conferences, seminars and workshops, members occasionally need knowledge updates for themselves or their employees that need to come from other sources. This may be because it is a topic your conferences don’t currently offer OR your members need to get their continuing education requirements fulfilled near the end of their licensing period because their schedules did not permit them to attend your conferences to get sufficient credits.
Additionally, members and non−members may choose to get continuing education online or at sources other than your association’s events. Whatever their reason for doing so, your association’s ability to respond to those people, when and where they need the education is limited.
There is a global trend towards getting education, whether basic, advanced, technical or professional from online environments. Many professions today almost exclusively use online education to achieve mandatory continuing education, reserving their conference to education that is not well−served by an online format, to host panels, workshops and hands−on events, sponsor an exposition of products and services that the professionals use, to deal with professional issues that may or may not be directly society−related, and to conduct the business of the association. With the increased use of technology to deliver education in all environments including elementary and secondary schools, vocational schools, universities, technical training and professional development, it is inevitable that the need to offer an online choice will be required by your association to remain relevant to your members.
With very little effort on the part of your association, and with very little cost, GeoLearn can help you to capture those lost opportunities, add to your revenue stream, and prepare your association better for the future.
These courses can be a significant source of revenue, especially if you choose your state−specific content strategically. Most associations first look at content for their courses that is related to topics your state’s licensing board might mandate, such as minimum standards or ethics. Other areas might include content that is difficult for new and existing practitioners to access or review that is specific to your state.
What’s in it for me? That is the question on everyone’s mind when reading this article about Online Education. Let’s examine some examples of the possibilities of online education for TSPS members. Probably of most concern to Professionals are CEU courses. The most recent Texas Legislature gave the TBPLS the authority to make rules to increase the annual CEU requirements. No matter how you feel about the new requirements, you may need to increase your number of C.E.U.’s. There have been a limited number of online C.E.U.’s available in the past. This would allow another avenue of possible courses. S.I.T. and C.S.T. certification support courses would also be possible as new courses come online. Online courses can be taken on the TSPS member’s schedule rather than going to Austin, Dallas, Ft. Worth, San Antonio or Houston. You could take these courses at your desk after hours or even at home after work. This also has the side effect of less cost by reducing travel and hotel lodging in many cases. The current economy makes reduced cost even more popular than ever before.
In summary, the potential exists to educate our members and employees without sacrificing production, while encouraging initiative to learn and excel. Online education is a part of that potential for those that are properly motivated. In the near future additional online classes will be added to the course catalogue. What courses would you like to see added? Let us know.