Buying Learning Online… Why Accreditation Standards Are Important

Posted on November 19, 2020 by Kirstie Walker

Thank you to the One Show last night raising awareness on unscrupulous, online training providers and dodgy certifications. 

Throughout 2020, the CPD Standards Office has been working hard to raise awareness on these issues. 

Our accreditation methodology is scientifically robust, the only one that uses an evidence-based assessment process. 

To emphasise, the words of Nikki Fox, here are our Top Ten tips when looking to buy online learning:

Do check the online provider’s credentials

Check out the person or company selling online learning. You should be looking for an established organisation, who have expertise and experience in delivering their topic. Find their social media pages, look at their listing on Companies House (for UK based organisations) and ask yourself, do I really feel confident that this provider is going to deliver the topic knowledgeably.

Don’t get trapped into a long-term subscription contract

It’s really important to read the terms and conditions carefully before you sign up and give your credit card details to a membership or subscription service for access to a big online course catalogue. Some unscrupulous trainers have ‘hidden fees’ or non-negotiable 24 months minimum terms, so be careful not to get trapped into a long-term financial commitment.

Don’t believe the hype

It’s easy to be sucked in by sophisticated digital marketing promoting training courses.

This learning often focuses on a specific topic, such as beauty aesthetics, child mental health support, or Agile/Scrum training.  Often the authors have had a single ‘fluke’ success online, and are not actually experts in the topic. 

These courses are potentially dangerous, as they are written by inexperienced individuals cashing in, using Youtube and giving their views on a topic rather than delivering a structured course, with learning objectives and related outcomes. 

The aim is often around building their email marketing lists, that they then sell onto others, with the end outcome of you being flooded with emails selling other training, or ‘babble on’ about a business topic with little or no expertise.

The resulting advice can be misinformation, outdated content, which could have disastrous outcomes for you learning incorrect, nonfactual content and passing it onto their clients.

Do check out delegate testimonials

Bone fide training providers, with a track record of success, openly post honest & genuine testimonials from previous delegates.  These should detail the full name and organisation/employer.  Be wary of courses with ‘anonymous’ testimonials that you cannot verify, or check out independently, just think of it as taking up references before you part with your money, especially if the online course has a price. 

Don’t ignore the instructions

Many courses require you to do some homework, or prior reading/videos beforehand.  These are usually an integral part of the learning, and respectable training companies often do this as a ‘flipped classroom’ approach. Whereby you do some pre-work for the online lessons, and then the live online participation starts from an advanced baseline so that every delegate has the required knowledge to get started, and the course discussions and queries are enriched, providing a more fruitful learning experience.  Hence, not participating in this aspect of the online learning process, you are not likely to have a good educational experience, which will then consequently affect your opinion of the provider. 

Do verify professional qualifications

It is easy to fall foul of scammers who promise professional qualifications that meet the Department of Education’s National Educational Framework.  They can easily hook you in by selling a course but then fail to send you the professional certificate or licence.  Ask the provider what professional qualification they hold to deliver the course.

Don’t be fooled by the provider’s name with ‘college’ or ‘school’

The word ‘college’ is unprotected so anyone can set up an online educational college, where in reality it does not exist.  One scam involves creating a website, decorating it with stock images of a particular place with educational tradition, as an example Oxford University or Harvard University. These sites charge you a smaller fee for a usually expensive 1 course and then never delivering the product.  Subsequently, the company is purposely liquidated and you are left with no hope of getting your money back.

Do leave public feedback

Many individuals don’t take the time to give respectable and remarkable positive feedback, which means that independent review sites only feature negative experiences.   We advise that you see online training as a 2way partnership between the online training provider (the teacher) and you as the delegate (the trusted student).  Don’t forget your social responsibilities as a delegate, and your ‘online citizenship’, where you should serve the provider and give them great feedback if they have delivered amazing training. 

It doesn’t have to take long, use a site such as Trustpilot, complete customer satisfaction surveys etc: This not only recognises the training provider as a reputable online source of education, the feedback also helps them understand how to improve their learning experience and makes them accountable publicly for any mishaps.

Don’t believe everything you read on social media

Although we are advising to do your homework on an online course before you buy, you do need to be mindful of negative comments about the provider on social media. There are many trolls and ‘complainers’ on the web, so take any negative feedback with a pinch of salt, and don’t rely on the opinions of one or two comments on social media feeds to make a decision about selecting your provider of online education.

 Do select accredited or externally verified training

Training that has been certified and verified by third-party accreditation services are a signpost that the training provider has been independently reviewed. Rogue trainers and scam websites rarely have any accreditations. The CPD Standards Office logos for accredited CPD and Provider of Training Excellence are certified badges for remarkable and reliable training.

You can check out our hundreds of providers on this link –

#nikkifox #foxestoptips #theoneshow #cpdstandardsoffice #onlinelearning #askquestions #accreditationstandards 

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