The Wonderful World of Online CE

For my first post, I wanted to talk about something that was both education related and very relevant to our members. The first thing that came to mind was the change we are seeing in the delivery of Continuing Education. Whereas 10 years ago the primary way of getting CE hours was by attending a class; today we are seeing a surge in providers who are offering CE (sometimes very inexpensive CE) via some sort of web-based delivery system. The format for this delivery can vary greatly, from a basic text-only course where you sit at your computer and read words on the screen, to a very advanced interactive video/audio presentation such as the Agents and Brokers Education Network (ABEN) which IIANC and over 10 other Big “I” states are now using to stream live classes directly to our member agencies.  

Online continuing education has exploded over the past 5-10 years. When I left my agency in 2004 to come to the Association, I was just beginning to see some providers offering online CE – usually very cheap online CE. Right before I began writing this post, I Googled the phrase “Online Insurance Continuing Education” and got 11,870,000 results (in no less than 0.19 seconds, thank you Google). I went to one of the top-listed websites and found out that I could get a package of 24 hours of insurance CE (a whole biennium’s worth) for just $39.95. I imagine they might also have told me that if I acted today, they would throw in a ShamWow! 

As tempting as it would be for the educator in me to toss this off as “you get what you pay for”, I’m enough of a realist to know that there are a lot of you out there who are getting your CE thorough online providers such as these for many different reasons. I’ve always believed that one of the down-sides of mandatory continuing education is that it has turned CE into a commodity. Now, just like peanut vendors at a baseball game, we have online CE providers barking out “Get your 24 hours of CE credit right here!!”…and folks are buying it.

As I mentioned earlier, IIANC has committed to the ABEN platform as our way of delivering online continuing education to our members. If you have participated in an ABEN webcast, you know that it is almost like being in the actual classroom. It combines streaming video and audio of the instructor along with a PowerPoint type presentation.  ABEN also provides the ability for the participant to ask questions of the instructor and to get answers in real time. We believe ABEN offers the richest online learning experience that this technology can provide. However, this technology comes at a cost and as a result, we can’t offer these courses at “bargain basement” prices. But, when you take an ABEN course, you are saving on gas, meals and time away from the office…all while learning from some of the best insurance instructors in the country. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to give ABEN a try today. Click here to view the list of ABEN courses currently approved for CE in North Carolina.

So, here are my questions to you. I hope this will generate some discussion among us.  

Do you take any of your CE through online providers?

Is the quality of the course content important to you or is it more important that it be a low cost per hour of CE?

What types of courses would you like to see available through ABEN?