Because managing the program is so time-intensive, many districts employ a full or part-time time administrator to track CEUs for individual teachers, manage continuing education classes and work with the CEU Committee and the state for license renewal. But new CEU management software, called CEUpid, now offers school districts a way to decrease the requirements and cost associated with management by allowing CEU program administrators to manage and approve CEU credits online, maintain records and organize classes.
The Certification System
The Edina Public School District in Edina, Minn., has approximately 550 teachers in nine educational sites. Over the years, the district’s CEU program administrator, Connie Gastler, has managed the CEU program using various systems, including a FileMaker Pro database. Teachers submitted paper files with information on classes taken and the CEU credits that should be awarded. Gastler and the CEU Committee would review the paper submissions and make changes to the database to reflect CEUs earned. Paper submissions were filed so the CEU Committee could approve teacher renewals. Teachers would then report back to the state on credits earned for certificate renewal. When a teacher required a report on current credits earned, a paper report would be generated from the system.
“The paper process we had in place was time-consuming and expensive,” said Gastler. “Our records were never as up-to-date as we needed them to be and teachers often had to wait to receive printouts of their own records.”
The Edina Public School District also offers classes, and the district would notify teachers, through inter-office paper mail, when classes were available. Class schedules were maintained manually. The constant management of credits and classes was very time-intensive. Teachers didn’t have direct access to their own CEU information and had to rely on Gastler to run reports. Attendance records for workshops were not always accurate.
While the system allowed the district to maintain records, the database didn’t offer any automated management functions—everything was done manually, and the constant management of credits and classes was very time-intensive. Teachers didn’t have direct access to their own CEU information and had to rely on Gastler to run reports.
In 1999, Dr. Mike Burke, the director of District Media and Technology for Edina Public Schools, and the district’s CEU committee, started looking into ways to decrease the time spent managing the program and automate more of the administrative functions.
While looking for a better CEU management solution, Burke contacted Scott Johnson, CEO of CEUpid Certifications Inc. Burke and the CEU committee met to discuss the school’s needs and laid out the application requirements for Johnson. Soon after discussing potential solutions, the district decided to test CEUpid Certifications’ new online CEU management application—CEUpid.
“The system we had in place was completely manual and consumed a huge amount of staff time to manage,” said Burke. “We felt that a more automated system for more accurately recording and reporting, like CEUpid, could free up some of this time and give us some management features we wanted to try. And, the fact that it was a Web-based application was great because software administration time for the district could be eliminated almost entirely.”
With CEUpid, the CEU administrator and Committee and the district’s teachers no longer have to work with paper files, and many management tasks are now automated. The system, which teachers and managers access online, offers complete management of information on individual teachers, credits and classes. It has saved 50 to 75 percent of time previously spent on the overall recording, verifying and managing CEUs.
“Instead of the linear, drawn-out paper process we had before, the new system gives teachers and managers direct access to information, making CEU administration faster and more efficient,” said Karen Busselman, CEU Committee co-chair.
The application gives teachers online access to their own personalized and password-protected pages, which contain all pertinent CEU information, both on credits received and credits pending. Online, teachers can enter information on classes they have taken and then request additional credits and classes. Because this information is collected by the central database, the CEU committee can then review credit requests and either accept or deny requests—all without paper filing. The CEU Committee can now simply develop annual reports for the state on credits earned for licensure renewal.
CEUpid gives the CEU administrators the ability to manage all credit requests online and manage the districts’ CEU classes. This allows teachers to browse and register for classes that have been posted online, and class instructors or the CEU administrator can add, modify or cancel classes at any time.
In the past, class-size management was a tedious manual activity, but now the procedure is automated: Once an optimal class size is met, as determined by the CEU administrator, extra teachers are automatically placed on a waiting list. If a teacher cancels out, the first teacher waiting is automatically added. In the case that only a few teachers remain on the waiting list, the instructor or the CEU administrator may bypass the previous cap on class size, automatically adding the remaining teachers. Instructors also have easy access to current class rosters that can be quickly printed out to take attendance.
CEUpid decreases “no-shows” through automated e-mail notices sent to teachers prior to each registered class. The notices include the date, time and location of each class.
Jenni Norlin-Weaver, director of Teaching and Learning for Edina Public Schools, uses CEUpid to register teachers for district-wide in-service day workshops. Because the system can manage all the various workshops and attendance, Norlin-Weaver has teachers sign up for in-service classes in the spring before summer vacation, allowing instructors and staff sufficient time to prepare.
“When teachers return for in-service days in the fall, we simply print out the attendance sheets from CEUpid,” said Norlin-Weaver. “After classes, the instructors and Gastler enter the information on credits earned for each teacher during in-service. This process lets us see which teachers completed the required credits and which ones need additional credits.”
The new system will allow school districts to share teaching resources and centralize class listings in the future. The Edina Public School District will be able to use this feature to view and sign up for classes from various sources posted online, including other districts and outside institutions. Teachers will be able to view and register for classes offered by other organizations and school districts will be able to promote their own classes to a wider audience.
The Edina Public School District has been able to make significant changes to the management of its continuing education program. Not only has the system allowed the district to decrease the time spent managing credits and classes, but the increase in access to information has given teachers more control over management of their own CEU progress. The ability to manage classes and attendance online has also helped the continuing education program by centralizing the classes and registration process into one function.
In short, by centralizing CEU, class and registration management into a single coherent and transparent process, the Edina Public School District has taken CEU management to a higher level. The new system affords the district immediate rewards in the form of a greatly simplified process and time and money savings, but also a greater future potential. Edina Public Schools is already considering expanding the system to allow teachers access to CEUpid from home via a secure intranet.
Amy Fisher is the public relations and marketing manager for CEUpid Certifications Inc., the first Web-based class management and certification tracking software application. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.