Approved Training Providers may wish to offer live online courses. The demand for this increased significantly during 2020, mainly due to the COVID Pandemic, and has become a very successful method of course delivery. The advantage of delivering live online courses means training providers are able to reach out to a wider audience and continue to train while adhering to health protection measures.
To maintain the standard and integrity of OHTA courses being delivered online, we require that training providers apply for approval for online delivery in addition to their application to become an Approved Training Provider. OHTA has worked in conjunction with BOHS, our Awarding Body, to create a fair process which protects the standard of our qualifications. In order to move ahead with online delivery we need to work within the regulatory rules of the respective organisations.
Regulatory Requirements for Online Course Delivery
There are three matters that need to be addressed to meet our regulatory requirements. Training providers will need to satisfy the OHTA/BOHS Task Group of each of the following:
- The suitability of the platform used for delivery. This will include considerations of data security, resilience, record-keeping, interactivity, recording of content for quality assurance, fitness for achieving the teaching and learning strategy proposed. While there is no required platform, it is suggested that the minimum requirement is the deployment of a closed system which hosts all materials, keeps participant data secure, and which is suitable for use in online training.
- Detailed consideration of the teaching and learning strategy that is required to deliver effective training via online and distance learning. While there is no one single approach to how online and distance learning training might be delivered, it should be clear how the method is directly comparable to the face-to-face delivery, how it makes use of the approved learning materials, how it enables interactivity and engagement of all of the learners, and how it directly works to secure the achievement of the course’s learning outcomes.
- How the proposed approach will work to achieve the broader objectives of OHTA in terms of improving technical knowledge and skills.
If training providers do not meet these requirements, they will not be able to claim that the training course is OHTA approved and it will not lead to an Award.
Considerations for Online Delivery of Courses
There are many considerations training providers should be aware of when deciding to offer remote learning including:
- Class sizes - tutors may not be able to monitor the engagement of students remotely as easily as they can in a physical classroom, therefore training providers should consider managing smaller classes or multiple tutors when delivering remotely to ensure students are engaging with the course.
- Time span - many OHTA courses are traditionally delivered over a five day period. This is not recommended when delivering remotely as it has been found to be very challenging for students to remain focused for many continuous hours when tutoring is online. It is recommended that tutoring sessions are shorter and span over a 10 day period, combining group sessions with students working independently.
Training providers will need to be aware, despite the widespread availability of technological solutions, that designing good and effective distance learning requires considerable technical expertise and investment.
How to Apply for Online Course Delivery Approval
Approved Training Providers are asked to self-assess their ability to offer online delivery by downloading and completing an OHTA Online Training Standards Self Assessment Checklist. It should be clear from the application how the checklist and broader considerations are met.
The completed checklist should be returned to email@example.com together with any supporting documents. Additional information such as course schedules and sample of slides may be requested.
On receipt of a completed checklist the OHTA Task Team will review your application.
- Where the application clearly falls short of the essential requirements, OHTA will advise you that you need to resubmit.
- Where the application substantially meets the requirements, but falls short in some respect, OHTA will provide you with a report of the conditions and recommendations.
- Where the application meets all the requirements in practically all respects, OHTA will contact you with approval, subject to any conditions and recommendations.
Timescale for Approval
OHTA will aim to complete the initial review within 10 working days. If OHTA requests further clarification, another 5 working days will be required once OHTA has received clarification on the points raised. If your application is approved for online course delivery, OHTA will forward confirmation of this, along with the completed checklist, to the BOHS Qualifications team. From receipt of this confirmation, BOHS will aim to approve your organisation for online exam delivery within 10 working days.
These are provisional timescales and to be on the safe side, we recommend that you do not schedule your first course until you have received confirmation of approval from both OHTA and BOHS. A further 10 working days will then be needed for BOHS to make the arrangements for your first online exam.
To ensure that students are able to complete a practical formative assessment whilst learning remotely, OHTA in conjunction with BOHS, our Awarding Body, have compiled Guidance for Tutors on Formative Practical Assessment for Online Courses.
BOHS and OHTA have agreed that where a student and tutor are unable to assess in person, training providers are able to assess Formative Practical exercises remotely if they follow these guidelines.