You understand the value of making your training materials available online. Learners can familiarize themselves with the content before the continuing education class begins and show up prepared to engage more fully. Your association can leverage the opportunity to generate additional non-dues revenue by offering both printed and online training resources. To make it even easier, you can work with a partner that can integrate online training materials with your registration system.
Maybe you wonder whether or not your training materials are safe online. High-quality training materials are an important benefit of membership in your association. Professionals cite this as one of the top reasons they join the association in the first place. Doesn’t making this information available online run the risk of making that value-add available to others, who haven’t paid for the privilege of membership and therefore, have not earned the access?
It’s a good question, and like all good questions, the answer isn’t a simple “yes” or “no.” Anytime you make content available online, there is a risk of unauthorized use. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around the fact that if it’s out there and a learner-cum-hacker is tenacious and tech-savvy enough, someone could get access to your information.
You can, however, put protections in place to make that process more trouble than it’s worth. There are options available to safeguard your CE training materials a little (watermarking) or a lot (digital rights management). Paywalls will discourage most would-be content thieves, so putting a subscription management solution in place may help as well.
- Watermarking: “Stamp” a date, time, and username on content that’s downloaded by an authorized user and that’s where it’s likely to stop. Think of this as discouragement of sharing by peer pressure.
- Digital Rights Management (DRM): Give your CE training materials an extra level of protection with DRM. Users can download one document per device. Period, end of story. Because this method is more stringent, many users find it cumbersome and less user-friendly than watermarking.
- Subscription Management: Offer learners online access to materials instead of a digital download. The upside is that they can read your CE materials just about whenever and wherever they want. The downside? Internet connectivity is required.
Don’t let protection of digital materials get you down. Think about it this way: How secure is a printed course book? Once it’s in the hands of a learner, they can do whatever they want to with it. If Sarah purchases a course book, takes the class, and becomes certified in the subject, what’s to stop her from lending that book to her friend Jackie in the next cubicle, when she wants to be get her own certification?
Honestly, nothing. Like it or not, unauthorized sharing already happens. Even with all of the digital protection in place, there’s nothing but a sense of fairness and integrity that can keep Sarah from sharing her password for online access to course materials with Jackie.
Understand that if it’s important to you to do whatever you can to protect your association’s training materials, you can count on Omnipress to help. For most learners, just seeing that your association wants to keep the content under wraps, for sole use by course registrants, will be enough to appeal to their better selves. Sarah’s conscience will tell her to stop, even if a paywall doesn’t. A good show of faith that you understand the importance of the information they hold in high regard goes a long way towards proving that your association’s CE program is appropriate only for learners who have purchased access.
Curious about this issue? Contact us for more information on online training materials and content protection options.