We've worked with many professional associations and professional development credit programs, and so know that they tend to have legal requirements around students spending a minimum number of hours completing online training programs.
Because of this we often receive requests to prevent students from being able to skip ahead in videos, as that's one potential method for tracking that students have completed their required training time in order to get certified.
However, this isn't really the best method as who's to say that the students won't simply start the video and then not pay attention, or even leave the room!?
Here's what we've seen work well as a solution - both in terms of satisfying regulatory bodies' requirements, and encouraging maximum engagement from students. We've seen this approach accepted by the most stringent of regulatory authorities and government agencies, so if you share this with your regulators you will almost certainly find that is it accepted:
1. Use Mixpanel (a free integration) - Mixpanel allows you track the amount of time a user spends in your course (not with a total time spent, but with all their actions and time codes associated with them). Please see here for an example of this.
2. Include the time required to complete the course as part of the course description - we have a field for this specifically in the Details area of the course builder - 'Estimated time to complete'.
3. Issue a certificate only upon completion of the course that lists the number of credit hours earned - this can be automated using our Certificates feature, available as part of the Business plan and above. Note: The credits/hours will be the same for everyone regardless of how long they take in the course (but they must meet the minimum time requirement) - most regulators prefer/require this approach.
4. Include a pass/fail quiz at the end of the course to confirm that the learner took it and understood the contents - here's how to add a quiz to your course.
5. Include a statutory declaration for the learner to agree to at the end of the course before they can complete it and claim their certificate - e.g. "I solemnly declare that I have spent at least 5 hours taking this course. I understand that if I am dishonest in completing this statement that I will be subject to penalties [possibly list those here] by the [state authority]. Please type your name below to signify your acceptance of this declaration." There's a few ways to add this to the course, but the easiest is using a short-answer survey question. You could also add a statement mentioning the time requirement of the course at the start as a simple text lesson, and even mention that they will be required to sign a statutory declaration of their time spent on the course at the end.
What these steps mean is that you have a very reliable time to declare for the course, and with Mixpanel as a backup you have an audit trail if you need to confirm anything (but you shouldn't need to use the Mixpanel reports unless there is a question of fraud by the learner).
If you have any questions about this or any of the setup discussed above, or would like to chat about this further, simply send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be happy to help!
I really appreciate this article! I'm struggling though with implementing option #3. I have done everything I need to do on the Thinkific site and set-up a certificate on the accredible site, according to directions. However, I can still skip over videos and get a certificate. I need to ensure that the seat time is 1.5 hours because it's for a certification course, and well that's what certifying bodies do :) I'm hoping someone here can help me with this.
Glad you found this post useful!
With response to your question about #3 above: Implementing this won't limit the ability of the student to skip videos (apologies if that wasn't clear, I'm going to edit the post right now!)
Rather than options, the 5 points mentioned above are the details of an approach that we've found to work great for instructors running certification courses - if you follow all of them, then not only should it be accepted by your certifying body but it should also lead to far better engagement with your course from students. E.g. rather than forcing them to watch a video, force them to pass a quiz - then see if they still try and skip the videos ;)
I really like this software and I'm not sure why you guys won't add timers to the bottom of the pages. As Julie stated, sometimes it's about the seat time needed to certify people for completing your training.
@Catherine - Your response to Julia is irrelevant. "then not only should it be accepted by your certifying body but it should also lead to far better engagement" - really that's a little easier said than done.
Are you guys going to give the ability to add timers to pages or no? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.
If you need to time how long somebody spends in your course then our Mixpanel integration (which tracks user activity on your site) allows you to do just that!
We can certainly consider giving instructors the ability to add timers into the course player for the future (I've flagged you a vote for that with the product team), but for now you should find that Mixpanel does what you're looking for. More on Mixpanel here
If you'd be interested in discussing this further, feel free to get in touch via the HELP page on your admin dashboard.
I'm also looking for this feature, where student can't skip the video and has to go in a step by step manner.
There are some courses which need to be followed in a step by step fashion only so that student get the desired results.
What you have explained & other options , i have understand them.
LET this option be given to thinkific customer whether they wan't their course to be path specific(forced students not to skip) or let them explore any chapter.
I think - If you add this feature, this would be great for many-2 instructors. Let them give the FREEDOM to choose what works best for their students.
Hopefully, this feature will be added soon.
Arun Kumar Sharma
That's very valuable feedback, and it's definitely our aim to give instructors the flexibility to structure and deliver courses in the way that they choose. If you go here, you can submit your request directly to our product team for consideration: https://portal.prodpad.com/18563
Thanks Catherine for your reply.
I have added request to thinkific product team.
I can say one thing about thinkific for sure - there customer support is quick and care for their customers.
Arun Kumar Sharma
I have the same situation I need a bar at bottom of ea. page with previous, stop, next but when they click next will only be when the narrator finishes reading that page, this also in order for our course to be approved by the state, also needed is a way to pop up security challenge questions randomly like every 30 to 35 min. to ensure the student taking the course is the one that needs to be certified. please help I ve been sent to a lot of different places but one lacks one or the other tool
(Think we we're chatting about this in an email too).
There isn't a way to remove the green NEXT button right now without interfering with some of the other functionality of the course player. What we can do in certain situations is remove the video controls so that users cannot skip ahead in the videos. Although as we mention above, there's no way to guarantee that somebody has watched your video - e.g. what if they put the video on and then leave the room?
Your idea of having the questions pop up is a great one though! It's not something we support directly right now, but you can create content that works like this in software like Adobe Captivate, Articulate Storyline, and others. And these types of content will work within your Thinkific course. Or, if you'd prefer to just use Thinkific, we recommend including a quiz directly after your videos to test that the student was paying attention. This quiz will have a passing grade, so if they don't pass the quiz they cannot complete your course.
Just let us know if you have any further questions about this at all.