Online Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Apr 29, 2020

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Posted by
Adrian Palinic
Education Assistant Manager – Learning Design

We are a number of weeks into social distancing and we've noticed that many REALTORS® are taking this time to pursue online professional development. Likewise, many individuals and organizations are creating new online learning opportunities to meet the growing demand. This blog post will help you navigate the changing landscape of online learning so you can make informed decisions around pursuing your professional development.

First and foremost, we've heard from many Realtors that they've experienced aggressive direct marketing campaigns promoting various online courses and programs, and we would like to assure you that BCREA does not share your information with third parties under any circumstances, and certainly not for the promotion of online courses.

Additionally, we have seen several promotional campaigns that have included misleading language or inappropriate use of the BCREA logo, implying the course is affiliated or endorsed by BCREA. If this is the case and the course is an accredited Professional Development Program (PDP) learning opportunity, it will be included in this list of accredited learning opportunities on the BCREA website. If the course is not included in this list, it may still be an option for your self-directed PDP hours, but there is further due diligence required to ensure you are investing your time and money into a worthwhile learning experience.

Here are four questions to ask yourself to help you choose quality online learning:

1. Is the course accredited for PDP hours?

All accredited PDP courses are listed on BCREA's website here. In order to be accredited, the course and provider undergo a thorough review process by a committee made up of Realtors, managing brokers and education professionals to ensure it is relevant, accurate, reputable, has integrated adult learning principles and has the key competencies required of a Realtor. If a course is not accredited, it might still be an excellent learning opportunity for you and could count toward self-directed PDP hours.

2. Can the learning opportunity count toward self-directed hours?

If looking outside of accredited PDP courses, you will want to ensure the learning opportunity can count toward your self-directed PDP hours. To count, it must meet the following three  criteria:

1. it must enhance your professional practice;

2. it must be verifiable and auditable, meaning you can show proof of completion; and

3. it must be a minimum of one hour in length.

Each real estate board undergoes an audit process to ensure your reported self-directed learning opportunities are auditable and verifiable. With online learning, one thing to look for is whether the course logs your progress, including knowledge checks or quizzes, to ensure it's verifiable. Watching videos, whether on YouTube or within a website that does not monitor or track your progress, would not be verifiable.

As self-directed learning is about greater flexibility and personal choice, there is no exhaustive list of learning opportunities that count toward self-directed PDP hours. Please use the criteria outlined here to determine if a learning opportunity will count toward your self-directed PDP hours. If you're not sure, check with your local board. 

3. Is it quality learning?

Quality learning is often defined by tangible results produced by solid learning objectives and includes best practices in learning and education. Some of the best sources of quality education will be from those already trusted within the industry: academic institutions, member boards, associations and other reputable providers. You may come across a quality course from another vendor, but if you're unsure, it's always best to check with your board.

4. Is it secure?

With more and more online providers popping up, some nefarious actors may enter the market, trying to disguise themselves as quality educational offerings. It's important to stay alert when seeking an online learning opportunity for professional development hours, especially where credit cards or other personal data are being collected. Email phishing schemes are on the rise and some may claim they offer accredited or self-directed PDP hours.

If you are purchasing an online course, practice due diligence as you would anytime you provide your credit card online.

Once again, if you are unsure, reach out to BCREA or your local board. Stay safe, and happy learning!

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