More and more construction State licensing boards are requiring that the construction contractor licensees complete between five to fourteen hours of continuing education depending on the State to renew their contractor license. This fact has increased the number on online continuing education courses available to a construction contractor dramatically in the last decade. Conversely the number of courses offered in-person at live seminars has decreased in some States and counties.
Some regulatory licensing boards continue to cling incorrectly to the idea believing that continuing education seminars attended in person are superior to online or live webinars. This is not accurate. The regulatory licensing boards should concentrate on what the construction contractors are learning and less on how the licensee is exposed to the course content.
Regardless if the continuing education course is online or in-person it should be approved based on the ability to interact with the course instructor, achievement of the learning objectives in addition to a timed attendance requirement. A course should expose the construction contractor to the changes in the rules, laws and regulations in their industry. Additionally the course should increase the contractor’s professional skill set in managing their business and technical knowledge in their trade.
The increase in availability in online continuing education courses offers many advantages to the construction contractor. This includes increased access to a specific course topic not offered in their geographic area, convenience, and affordability that would not be possible with mandatory in-person attendance.
It is the mastery of the course content that increases the contractor’s knowledge, and for the contractor to be aware of the changes in the laws, rules and regulations. This yields a better product and service to the consumer public, and results in a successful business for the contractor which moves the entire construction industry forward.
The live seminar offers the following advantages: face to face communication which for some individuals works best if the class size is not too large. As spur of the moment questions can be answered quickly and the resulting dialogue will clarify any ambiguities. The contractor also has the ability to network with other contractors as there are many different construction trades in attendance. During the course breaks (coffee, smoke and restroom time) the contractor can make business connections and discuss some of the ideas offered during the lecture.
The disadvantages of a live seminar are: the seminar is typically held in a hotel or convention center with seating arrangements and/or a room temperature that is uncomfortable. The seminar is held at a fixed and limited time frame with little to no flexibility to attendee for date & time changes. The time required to commute to the seminar site frequently requires overnight travel and added expense for hotel and restaurant meals. Next when a live seminar has too many attendees it is not practical for each person to ask questions. This results in minimal to no interaction even though the course is in-person.
Online courses would include both static or recorded courses and live webinars. The courses typically have an assessment tool (true/false and multiple choice quizzes or exams) and a minimum time course time log attendance to receive a certificate of completion. One of the main advantages of online courses is accessibility with a computer or smart phone. It is almost impossible today to manage a construction contracting business without the use of either of these tools. No longer is technology a barrier as it was in the past. However the contractor needs to be proficient with the use of the computer, tablet or smart phone and the associated software.
Today the choices of construction continuing education course topics are immense. The contractor can take the types of courses they need that meet their current goals. Otherwise they only can take the courses that are offered in their city or within close driving distance – as few contractors will drive across the State due to time and the cost of travel.
The contractor can complete their continuing education hours at their convenience – at the office, at home, in the coffee shop or anywhere there is internet access. With online slide presentation courses the contractor is not restricted by a fixed date or time and without spending extra money for travel, food and hotel expense. They can log on for a few minutes or a few hours – whatever their schedule allows.
In both live webinar and recorded online courses the contractor can email or text message the instructor with a question. This would be an advantage for some as they may be embarrassed thinking their question was irrelevant or not of interest to others in a typical in-person hotel seminar. The contractor can easily repeat the prior course content by going back a slide or two if they did not understand the concept without having to feel embarrassed. This is compared to only hearing it once at an in-person seminar and then having to interrupt the person sitting next to them or stop the entire class to ask a question.
The contractor attendee still has access to course handouts, graphs, tables, and other articles associated with the course with just a click of the mouse as they would in an in-person seminar.
Online learning offers the construction contractor the advantage to complete their continuing education hours in small units of time, at a fraction of the cost, easily repeat the course material, and results in a more efficient use of limited time than what an in-person seminar offers.
If your local licensing board limits the number of online continuing education hours you may complete question them as why this is. Let them know that you want to learn and complete all of your continuing education hours online to increase the choice of course topics to better serve the consumer public and for you to have a successful construction business. Continuing education is not about if the course hours are completed in-person or online but that you do learn and continually improve your skill set.