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C2C Digital Magazine (Spring / Summer 2015)

Colleague 2 Colleague, Author
Cover, page 15 of 21


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Building and Deploying Online Compliance Trainings on Qualtrics™

By Shalin Hai-Jew, Kansas State University

Compliance trainings are a fact of life for most (if not all) organizations. These are required to ensure that staff members comply with regulations across a range of issues to ensure safe work places, proper treatment of individuals, protection of intellectual property (IP), proper research protocols, and other factors. There are high risks and potential high costs to non-compliance with laws and policies. 

In higher education, there are common compliance trainings related to student privacy protection, proper information handling, IT security, fair employment practices, equal access to education, accessibility accommodations, and others. There are specialized trainings for individuals who engage in certain types of research, who handle certain types of materials, and who travel abroad.

Policy Compliance Trainings

Generally, compliance trainings have to be clear about the law (or regulation or policy), how the law applies to decision-making in the real world, and proper decision-making in various contexts. (Compliance trainings often do not only apply to workplace behaviors but spill over to actions outside the workplace.)

Such trainings have to comply with a thicket of laws around intellectual property. They have to be accessible along a range of dimensions. They have to respect privacy rights (often mitigated with signed releases for photographs, audio-recording, video-recording,and others). One common tactic used to help people remember the rules is to use storytelling (often based on real-world cases), memorable rules, and distinctive visuals.

Organizations have to ensure that such trainings are accurate, clear, updated, and available to all; they have to show that employees are trained and have shown understanding of the training content. Compliance trainings have to be updated regularly (usually on annual cycles); occasionally, updates to trainings have to be more frequent. Rarely, trainings need to be created (or versioned) and deployed on-the-fly, particularly in highly dynamic situations.

Online Compliance Trainings using the Qualtrics™ Survey Platform

Most larger organizations develop online compliance trainings because of the distributed nature of their personnel, who may be located in a wide range of time zones at any one time. For over a year now, Kansas State University (K-State) has been using the Qualtrics™ Research Suite survey system to deliver some compliance trainings.

What follows are ten reasons behind this somewhat unconventional use of the cloud-based (a hosted solution with a Web interface) survey tool.

1. A range of basic features that are great for training deployment. In terms of the user experience, Qualtrics™ enables a wide range of features that may be used for online trainings. This survey suite offers a wide range of question types. Its online interface is easy-to-use. 

It enables branching logic, which means that individuals who self-identify into a particular group may be sent on one track vs. another. Or, there can be an if-then juncture which may send trainees off to different modules for different learning. Multimedia is easily integrated into the learning sequence. This is important for organizations with highly diverse work groups with diverging training needs on a shared topic. Branching works if the training can be shown to be equivalent, sufficient, and comprehensive, even if divergent along different paths.  

Assessments—whether formative or summative—may be integrated anywhere in the sequence. There are a range of controls that enable a user to have to respond to particular assessments or not along the way.

There may be time-limited sequences in the training. There may be record-keeping of a continuing training that may continue over a number of days, with individuals able to access and continue the training over time. 

If a particular training is updated after it has been deployed, the version that a user saw when he or she first logged on is the version he or she returns to (assuming this multi-access enablement is allowed).  In other words, the survey enables a context-sensitive memory of user access in order to preserve their experience.  

This cloud-based system is robust and resilient; it rarely has down time.  

2. An ability to target specific groups.  Qualtrics™ enabled the creation of specific “panels” of individuals from different parts of the organization for specific trainings or for sequenced rollouts of a mass-scale training. This feature could be used for highly targeted trainings applicable to only select individuals. Such targeting enables the sending of specific reminders to those who had not completed trainings. Ultimately, these would also enable the extraction of targeted data as needed for organizational decision-making, record-keeping, research, and other functions.

Groups that are being trained do not just have to be within the organization. They may be outside the organization as well (as long as they are reachable by email).

3. Automated record-keeping on a mass scale. One of the foremost reasons this university went to Qualtrics™ for its training was the ability for K-State developers to use Qualtrics™ APIs (application programming interfaces) to create connections between the survey system and university student and staff information systems for automated recording of training deployments and completions of the training and performance—specific to the individual. These records are critical to the organization’s ability to “attest” to the fact of an individual’s training and their performance on the training, should that need arise.

4. Team collaboration and co-development of trainings. The ability to integrate multiple members of the organization into the particular training is highly helpful in terms of enabling those with various skill sets and interests to access the development side. Further, the ability to output a randomized URL or to invite a closed group of individuals to pilot-test the training in various stages is also helpful. The feedback from the pilot test may be captured in Qualtrics™ as well (and in a natural sequence with the piloted training). This means subject matter experts (SMEs) and various parts of campus which may be affected by the training may be included—so that there is buy-in and awareness. (Some entities who are at the table: leadership (in all forms), legal counsel, budget authorities, and others. Students are included on trainings that affect them.)

5. Easier and more efficient data analysis. At any time during an online training’s deployment, the administrators may dip into the data to view trends and how the training is proceeding.

The data that may be accessed is downloadable in a variety of highly readable file formats for uses in other data analysis systems.

Within Qualtrics™, there are various data extractions that illuminate the efficacy of the respective surveys and the trainings.  For example, there is built-in item analysis on the respective questions to analyze participation as well as drop-out rates. There are individual respondent metrics that capture not only performance but the amount of time spent in the training. Such data are presented in both downloadable tables and often bar charts.

6. Broad accessibility. The use of HTML (hypertext markup language) and clear sequencing enables machine-readability and text-to-speech delivery of the training content. With additional effort, such as video closed captioning / timed-text transcription, a training may be made fully compliant with Section 508 guidelines. Images may be alt-texted using lead-up and lead-away text.

7. Mobile features to extend access over physical space. Qualtrics™ also works on a range of mobile devices. In some trainings, if the work involves going out into the field, taking snapshots with a camera-enabled phone or device, and uploading those content with the advanced File Upload question option, the mobile feature can come in very handy. This means trainings do not have to be tethered to a desktop device or a laptop.  Trainings may occur in any physical location, even without cases when the image or other data uploads do not have to happen at the exact moment of capture.  

8. Going multilingual with machine translation…  Google Translate™ is an integrated feature in Qualtrics™. However, if these features are used in a training to be more inclusive, it is critical to have native speakers vet and correct the translations. The inherent polysemous noise in all languages means that even effective language translation tools will output text that may be inaccurate, culturally insensitive, and even offensive. (In a broadscale training rollout, there will be a wide range of responses to the training.)  

9.  Library archival. Pristine copies of trainings may be preserved in online libraries (linked to user accounts).  Libraries (as well as individual surveys) may be shared among collaborators based on email-verified sharing. This means that collaborators on a project--even if they are off-campus--may access surveys with varying levels of role-based access and rights.  

Swasati Mukherjee, the lead training on the Qualtrics™ system at K-State, explained: "Libraries allow a survey creator to create customized messages that can be inserted into different parts of the survey (welcome messages, error messages, thank you's, etc.) or even re-use it in the future. Images and files can be saved there, and when distributing a survey, the outgoing email has to be stored in the library before a survey can be sent out."  

10. A trusted business partner. The university had gone through a due diligence process to select a new survey platform.  They identified Qualtrics™ as a trusted service provider. The service has been re-skinned for K-State branding.   Its tech support personnel are highly responsive to local needs. The collected data are protected stateside, without the risks of having data centers abroad or data being transited abroad for storage. Besides its survey functionalities, Qualtrics™ also provides a range of survey templates.  

Qualtrics™ is constantly evolving and adding new tools to their offerings and new features to their tools. New affordances enable new applications for compliance trainings. The promise of future directions is an important aspect of selecting a tool.  The tool itself is regularly updated and improved, with new features shared through an internal Message Center. 

Note: Thanks to Swasati Mukherjee for her insights about the Qualtrics™ library and mobile features.  Swasati Mukherjee works as an instructional designer at Kansas State University.  She is the lead trainer on the use of Qualtrics™ at K-State.  

About the Author

Shalin Hai-Jew works as an instructional designer at Kansas State University.  She has  no tie to Qualtrics, LLC.

She has a new slideshow titled "Using Qualtrics for Online Trainings" on Slideshare.  This was posted in early February 2016. 

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