What are your true feeling about online certifications????

I know a lot of us are really busy these days, and it's getting harder and harder to find really good qualified staff to fill the voids in our aquatic facilities . But as a trainer and facility manager I'm not that keen on candidates who show me an certificate from a on-line certification program.........

I just want to see what the rest of the world feel about this?

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I am particularly passionate about this subject right now, as I'm trying to implement some in house blended learning in the form of powerpoints and quizzes to document the training and verify understanding.(that students take online)
This involves everything from opening and closing duties to Emergency action plans to basic rescue skills.

I believe that on line certification or learning should/must be used to improve and streamline the training process by better preparing candidates/current employees. I know from experience that for a class of 4-8 students CPR/AED/FIRST AID class can take 9+ hours with video, review,practice and testing. If a combination of online learning with demonstration improves the retention outcome and turns the class into a 6 hour course then I am in favor.

Having said that, online course can never replace facilitated learning by an effective instructor. That skill correction and reinforcement is essential

The online learning must be interactive, visual and offer checks and balances of the learning progression.
In addition candidates who don't put forth effort can be weeded out if they do not commit to the process saving time in the face to face training. If a student spends the whole day in a regular class but fails the test and retest at the end then this can be avoided by the prerequisite online training.

In summary online training is best when it is in addition to traditional training not instead of.
Thank you, for your reply

You have good points, and I can see you passion to this method of teaching. Question How do you determine if a candidate applying with your organization has completed the skill portion of a on-line course? or do your organization required a pre-employment testing ?
I have not participated in an Ellis & Associate online test and have only briefly seen the Star Guard online course and Red Cross does not have any at this time to my knowledge.

I don't think any online course can effectively teach skills, that must be done in person in a classroom or pool. I think online certifications provide education in the Why, What and How but not in the Doing of a skill.

I'd like to say that all applicants with prior certification(regardless) should demonstrate skills as part of pre employment testing.

Thank you for posting this discussion.
Are there any other viewer who have a say, The City and County P&R do not accept this type of certifications, because as stated by Andrew. I just try to get a fill of what the upper 49 states do since many of you have the opportunity to see the various types of services out there, where as Hawaii we have a small market-
Hi Glen!
In Utah, the state health code determines which lifeguard programs are acceptable, and not. Currently Utah code reads "A lifeguard must be trained and certified by the American Red Cross, or an equivalent program as approved by the Director, and Standard Level First Aid, and CPR for the professional rescuer."

I know we have facilities that utilize Ellis and NASCO as well as the Red Cross.
In reality it is what your risk managers will accept for your agency. (They are the ones that will have to defend you if the poop hits the fan) If they are okay with the base training certificate, usually you are good to go.

Blended learning or all in person, we all know that certification is just a piece of paper. It's what you re-inforce at your facility, and the training you incorporate after they are hired that really makes a lifeguard a lifeguard. (Besides, you'll find out pretty quick if your staff is really trained and knows what they are doing during the first in-service they attend, right???)

That being said, their is no better way to screen your potential staff than in a lifeguard training class. :) It's a gamble either way!

Check out the NASCO website...you can download Dr. John's lifeguard manual. Very good stuff! Great resource.... www.nascoaquatics.com
Hi Terry,

Thank you very much for your insight and the resource on this topic.

An you right it's always a gamble when you hire from out side your own training classes where you can see and push the participants to see what they are made out of....and having our Risk Mgt. team determine what we will be accepted by our organization is also true.

Again I just want to see how other professional feel, since it seems that it's a big business in the upper 49 states....

Mahalo glenn

As far as Ellis goes, the online certificate is only part of the certification process. It is basically a powerpoint setup that goes through the entire text book. But this time you actually take practice tests that would include prompts for CPR and how to back board and such. Once a student has completed this online course, he/she MUST attend an actuall LG course with an Ellis trained instructor.

Some student dont understand that in Ellis, there are two types of certification. One is being that, certified. With this certification he/she can go to a facility that will accept it and understand that the liability is on the facility. The other type is license, only a client facility that is under the Comprehensive risk managment program of Ellis can have these types of lifeguards. The liability is shared by the facility and Ellis.

To check wether a LG has one or the other, look at the certificate. One will say certified and the other will say licensed. It is ok to have the one that says certifed, but not with the license.

All in all, I agree with you in saying that a LG candidate should posses all the certifications required of the job. Plus, be able to perform the necessary tasks. I have two parts of an employee interview. First of course is the formal sit down and questionaire, the second is actually watching their skills. We have them perform a deep water rescue at 14', CPR for an Adult and Infant, and spinal managment on and off deck.

If the candidate posses the necessary skills, I feel that it would be ok to hire them with the online certification.
I am a little confused. Glen-Are you interpreting online training/blended learning is a complete training program? Or, do you know as a fact that there is an organization that will issue a lifeguard certification online?

I personally do not know of any organization that is offering a program that will issues a certificate through merely training online.

We use Ellis and their online training program is only one part of the training. I view it as a means to eliminate some lecture time in the class and nothing else. Our students come in better prepared then they ever did through traditional textbook program. Students will bring us a print out to show us that they successfully completed the online course. That proves to us that they did the work but that is all it does. Our students still receive instruction on all skills and take part in several discussions throughout the course. They will still need to test out on all of their skills and pass a written exam. Total time in class is 18 hours. So we do save sometime but clearly we have not eliminated classroom and pool training.

My understanding of the Red Cross Blended Learning program is that the learning is done on line but students are still required to perform skills in front of an instructor. I know for a fact that they are not certifying lifeguards through an online course.

I am a big fan of online learning as we currently use it. I would be very skeptical and would not accept someone who earned a license through an online training program.

Hope this helps.
Hi Bob,

Thank you for your reply and point of view I just wanted to see what are the feeling of organizations that used this type of certification of their guards.
The American Red Cross at some local chapters is offering online CPR/AED for Lifeguards that actually involves an online review and written test paired with a meet in person physical skills test session for new certifiers and renewals. I have not seen anything for online lifeguard training and would be against that personally for first time candidates. As a lifeguard instructor, I find new candidates have much to be learned from role play, discussion and peer interactions for rule enforcement, dealing with patrons etc. in addition to all the physical skills. Online review and written testing paired with physical skills scenario testing for lifeguard recertifications I might get behind.

Hiring guards: State sanitary code is specific about which certs they will accept. I ask scenario questions and dealing with patron and other staff questions along with general interview questions in a sit down with potential new staff. If they did not certify with me I also have them perform exit skills from lifeguard training; one passive submerged victim rescue with CPR, one spinal injury rescue, one active drowning victim scenario and provide copies of their certifications.


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