Part 4: Building Courses and Curricula in the HLC
In this 6-part interview series, ForYouHR works with Brad Speck—HRIS and E-Learning Manager at Quorum Health—to help HealthStream Learning Center™ (HLC) administrators leverage powerful and often untapped platform capabilities. The series offers insight on what it means to be an HLC administrator; user roles and maintenance; managing hierarchies; building courses; reporting; and maximizing the full potential of the HLC. The content is designed to empower administrators to streamline processes, better manage workloads, maximize ROI, and demonstrate their value as vital to organizational outcomes. For the full Series Overview, check out Part 1: The HLC Administrator’s Role in Improving Outcomes, and view other series installments on the ForYouHR blog.
Part 4 – Building Courses and Curricula in the HLC
In Part 4 of the series, Quorum Health e-Learning expert Brad Speck and ForYouHR’s Angela Novak help administrators learn to build custom HLC courses and curricula. They offer examples of types of courses administrators may want to create, and discuss how this extremely useful—and often underutilized—capability builds self-sufficiency while helping organizations more fully leverage their HealthStream investment.
The Big Picture
Q: Brad, it’s great to see you again. I think we’re both eager to address a topic we’ve touched on throughout the series and identified as an important offering for HLC administrators. Why is course creation such a useful tool?
A: We designed this series to help HLC administrators go beyond the basics to streamline processes, better manage workloads, maximize ROI, and positively impact organizational outcomes. The HLC offers a robust library of courses for healthcare workforce development, but often a need arises for custom content at the individual facility level. We want to help administrators excel in their roles, and learning to build courses is certainly a best practice.
Q: Course creation is definitely a skill that takes administrators to the next level. Whether they recognize a critical need or a time/cost saving opportunity, those who know how to build courses can more clearly demonstrate their organizational value. Can you talk about the types of courses administrators might want to create?
A: Generally speaking, any information to be shared with a group of students could be turned into a course. From everyday, recurring processes to urgent, time-sensitive educational needs, administrators have the the capability to capture learning in fully customizable content.
Q: Can you share some examples of custom content you’ve found useful? Let’s start with courses developed around processes.
A: Any routine process (especially a process that may need to be created) can be streamlined into and communicated through a custom course. Think about onboarding and orientation training, for example. At Quorum, there are things all new students must complete/learn that are driven by the corporate office. But there are other processes and content specific to the individual facility. While the HLC library offers courses to keep our students competent and compliant, it does not offer onboarding and orientation content specific to your organization. As an administrator, YOU can streamline those processes by creating a course around them.
Q: Yes, and that’s a huge time-saver when you think of all the students who will need such information on an ongoing basis. Plus, a course can help ensure students receive consistent, up-to-date information. What other processes could be shared via an HLC course?
A: Departmental training, new equipment guides, local policies…really anything not on the HealthStream library that needs to be communicated to a large audience, or even a small audience on an ongoing basis.
Q: And what about the high-priority, urgent situations you mentioned?
A: In previous interviews we gave examples of courses created around urgent needs. One was a course we created at Quorum for the Zika virus. We obtained critical training from the CDC and needed to disseminate it immediately across the entire organization. Because there wasn’t yet a course available on the HLC, we used a CDC PowerPoint deck to create one and quickly assign it to applicable students. We did something similar for an active shooter course.
Q: Great examples. So let’s turn to the “how to” of course creation. There are really two components. First is development of the learning content, and second is building the course in the HLC platform. Is that right?
A: That’s right. The first component is the learning content, which is generally created in one of two ways (or categories). The first includes Word documents, pdf files, PowerPoint presentations and video links. Most administrators have the ability to create or access this type of content and then build a course around it. The second type of content is SCORM files. To create a SCORM file, administrators need access to content publishing software such as Lectora or another SCORM authoring tool.
Q: Right. And today we won’t focus heavily on content creation, because we want to focus on the second component—building courses in the HLC. We’re assuming some level of familiarity with creation of Word documents, PowerPoint slides, etc. Administrators should just know that the first step to building a course is to create (or obtain) the content, which can then be attached or uploaded as the material for the course they build in the HLC.
A: Yes, at a very basic level an administrator can create a Word (or other) document with the learning material and then attach it to a course to be assigned and tracked via the HLC. With the onboarding example, this may be a curriculum of several courses designed to efficiently guide new students through the onboarding process at a facility.
Building a Course in the HLC
Q: Ok, so once the content is created (or obtained from a third party, as with the CDC content referenced above), it’s time to build the course in the HLC. Let’s explain how.
A: There are many options for building a course in the HLC, but I want to identify a few basic elements (or steps). First, you must Build a Course Shell. Second, you will Add a Learning Activity (including a course attachment OR a SCORM activity). And third, you can Build a Test. The first two steps are essential. Adding a test is optional…but is best practice, in my opinion.
Q: I can feel this about to get technical. And I’ll remind folks that this is not a comprehensive course building tutorial. We’ll link to some HealthStream material below that provides more specifics. Ok, Brad, how do we build the course shell?
A: The course shell holds your content together and allows it to “live” in the HLC environment to be assigned. At the top of your organizational level (or nodes), navigate to the “Courses” tab and click on “Add a Course.”
There are several required fields, including the Course Title; Learning Objectives; Default Categories (for compliance, helpful in making the type of material searchable); Default Certificate (always HealthStream); Development Status (leave “In Development” until ready to publish); Learning Activities Completed Sequentially (leave checked); and Additional Properties. Then you must click “Save” to complete the shell.
Under Additional Properties, you’ll find things like Course Identifier, Keywords and Author, which help make a course searchable. Also, marking a Next Review Date and Inactivation Date as 12/31 can be helpful for year-end maintenance of custom courses, which we discussed in Part 2 of this series.
Q: Yes, we’ll revisit maintenance of custom courses at the end of this interview. So that’s it for building the course shell, and the platform is pretty intuitive…so it’s not terribly difficult to navigate, right?
A: True. And as administrators learn to build courses they can rely on enterprise level support (like me), virtual administrators at ForYouHR and, of course, HealthStream.
Q: Ok, the second step (after building the shell) is adding a learning activity. Can you walk us through that?
A: Sure. The learning activity is the meat of the course. You’ll click on “Add an Authoring Center Activity,” and then fill in the following fields: Name of the Learning Activity; Completion Mode (required); Description; Estimated Time of Completion (hours and minutes, which helps with reporting); Minimum Passing Score (standard is 80%); Score Percent Weight (standard is 100%); Meeting Minimum Passing Score (optional); and Allow Learning Activity to be Overridden (leave blank). Then click “Save.”
Q: Then it’s time to add the actual learning material or content, right?
A: Yes, next the administrator will either “Add a Course Attachment” or “Add a SCORM Activity” to the course. As mentioned above, a course attachment can be document files (such as Word, PowerPoint or pdf) or web address hyperlinks (for a video or other linked content). To attach these, click on “Add a Course Attachment” and fill in the following fields: Name of Course Attachment; Completion Mode (download or online); Description; Estimated Completion Time; and Access Limit (leave unchecked unless it is time limited content). Then click “Save.”
Next you’ll be prompted to fill in the remaining fields: Instructions; Attachment Type (web link or file); Title; and URL (if a web link) or Document (if file). You’ll add the link or click “Browse” to find your file. Then click “Save” again.
Q: So at that point, we’ve successfully added the course attachment (the document file or link). What about SCORM files?
A: If the learning material or content is a SCORM file, you’ll follow a similar process. Click “Add an Authored SCORM Activity.” Then fill in the following fields: Name of the SCORM Activity; Completion Mode; Description; Estimated Time of Completion; Minimum Passing Score; etc. Then click “Save.”
Next click “Import” and choose the SCORM file. Click “Load” and it will be saved to the shell.
Q: Ok, that’s the process for building a course in the HLC. You must create the shell and you must add a learning activity (either a document or SCORM file). Then it’s published, right?
A: Yes. I think it’s worth noting here that, once published, you can’t make changes to a course. If you need to edit anything in a published course, you must create a new version of it. Simply search for and click on the course, click “Manage Course Versions” and then click “Create New.” Make the necessary changes by replacing the links or files and then re-publish.
Q: Great, so the last step you wanted to cover is building a test, which you said isn’t required but is best practice.
A: That’s right. I recommend our administrators build a test for every course. It does take time to add questions, but I think it’s important to monitor learning and ensure the material sticks. After all, you wouldn’t create a course unless you wanted to be sure that students truly learn from it…for the good of patients and the organization. Even for video content, a simple acknowledgement or one to two questions can suffice.
Q: Makes sense. Can you explain how to build one?
A: Yes. Click on “Add a Test,” and then complete the following fields: Name of Test; Completion Mode; Description; Estimated Time of Completion, etc. Then click “Save.”
Next, click on “Default Group,” then “Add Question” and choose your Question Type (True/False, fill in the blank, matching, multiple choice, etc.). Fill in the Question Name (I like to begin typing the question as the name, which makes it easy to find and update later…as opposed to using numbers). Then choose HTML under Question Text to add the question itself. Next choose the correct answer or click “Add Answer” depending on the question type. Click “Save” or “Save and Add Another.”
Q: Ok, Brad. That’s a lot to take in, but great information to help administrators become more self-sufficient while using the HLC to make their lives easier. What did you want to mention about maintaining custom courses?
A: We referenced our Part 2 interview and the subject of year-end maintenance. I encourage our administrators to update custom courses every year to ensure they are fresh and relevant. This can be as easy as copying the course shell, making any necessary changes and then reattaching the content.
Q: Yes, more on that in Part 2. So course creation isn’t rocket science, though Jonah (ForYouHR’s lead HLC wizard) says you can get fancy if you want to.
A: Sure. Content publishing software such as Lectora, Adobe Captivate and other SCORM authoring tools offer features and templates to make your content look more advanced than PowerPoint. They allow administrators to add voice, video and animations to courses. That may be a great option for instructional designers at larger organizations. But for most of our administrators (and many others), using PowerPoint and document files to create courses is still a great way to streamline processes and move information online.
Q: Right, and that can save time and money in addition to reducing risk. Any final thoughts you’d like to share with readers about course creation?
A: I want to encourage administrators to think outside the box. Leverage the HLC for any process that can be streamlined through course creation, or any critical information that needs to be quickly shared and learned. The HLC is designed to solve problems. Use it to address your specific needs and demonstrate your organizational value.
Q: Thanks so much, Brad! We didn’t spend much time today on curricula, but administrators can find information on combining a set of courses to build a curriculum in HealthStream’s HLC Curricula Management guide. More information on course building can be found in HealthStream’s HLC Courses Management guide.
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Brad Speck, MSIS is HRIS and E-Learning Manager for Quorum Health. With five years of experience in learning technology and a background in the medical field as well as information systems, he is in continual pursuit of opportunities to address challenges and improve healthcare outcomes. In his time off, he can usually be found outdoors or woodworking…with a talent for recreating vintage bird houses.
Angela Novak is Communications Consultant at ForYouHR and President of Corner Office Communications. She has 16 years of related experience in the healthcare and technology industries, including at HealthStream and in the managed services vertical. When not helping businesses tell their stories, she can be found cooking elaborate feasts for family and friends or driving back roads through the Tennessee countryside.