NCCER Steps Up

Providing Options During the Pandemic


In the spring of 2020, many training centers and schools faced a new way of teaching and testing – online. With these challenges facing its accredited programs, the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) stepped up to see how it could help make things easier.

Transitioning to Digital Training

As virtual classes took over education, NCCER and Pearson partnered to assist in making the move online as simple as possible. With many of NCCER’s most popular titles already in digital format, instructors had a choice between using NCCERconnect or Pearson eTexts.

Pearson eTexts are digital versions of the student editions of textbooks, that allow highlighting, notes and other features. These eTexts help increase access for students, while NCCERconnect offers more features. As an online course management solution by Pearson, NCCERconnect contains rich media eText, a gradebook and multimedia library for many of NCCER’s most popular titles. To help with the unexpected move, Pearson provided free access to instructors and students through the end of the spring term.

NCCER also created a Virtual Training Page on its website that includes links to webinars, FAQs and more. Pearson and NCCER offered training via webinars on how to use each feature for instructors new to these resources.

The Challenges of Online Testing

With moving to digital training, many instructors needed to tackle virtual testing as well. As with eTexts, online testing was not a new concept for NCCER. In fact, its current testing system has processed over 1 million tests in the last three years.

With experience gained through establishing and enhancing the system, a core group of individuals was tasked to see how NCCER could offer more support to those testing online – some for the first time.

One of the important challenges in front of this task force was keeping the integrity of NCCER credentials intact. Cathy Tyler, NCCER Director of Accreditation, Audit, Customer Service and Registry, pointed out, “Historically, our knowledge-based module tests were not allowed to be delivered virtually.”

Of course it was critical for students and trainees to take module tests while unable to be in the same room. The solution? Remote proctoring.

“To better assist our accredited training sponsors, we developed a plan to temporarily adjust our guidelines to allow remote proctoring of our module tests,” said Allyson Butts, NCCER Director of Testing and Sponsor Training.

Establishing Remote Proctoring

One of the key components to offering remote proctoring was to permit testing only through NCCER’s online testing system, which delivers tests securely. To support the implementation of remote proctoring, NCCER provided training via webinars for both the testing system and remote proctoring. To ensure the integrity of virtual testing, video recording was required, as was the presence of auditors at each session.

Once training was scheduled for remote proctoring, NCCER discovered another roadblock: proctors were not always able to log into the training webinars due to time constraints. Tyler and Butts again worked with the task force to find a solution.

In a few days, the training webinar was recorded, moved to a learning management system and provided as an on-demand video course. This allowed proctors to complete the training during a time that best fit their schedules.

Finding Testing Auditors

Once proctors were trained and ready to begin remote proctoring, auditors needed to be scheduled to attend the testing sessions. In order to support as many sessions as possible, NCCER’s network stepped up to help. From NCCER CEO Don Whyte to Dr. Mittie Cannon, founder of Power UP, auditors came from a wide range of NCCER’s accredited organizations. These auditors were committed to keeping testing going for students and trainees and were happy to do so.

While 2020 will undoubtedly be remembered for the changes it brought, NCCER remains steadfast in its mission to build a safe, productive and sustainable workforce of craft professionals. Between eTexts and online testing, NCCER continues to enhance its systems to better serve its accredited network.


Return to Summer 2020 FieldNotes