How to Create an AIA Continuing Education Course

Posted On: 
Mar 31, 2017
How to Create an AIA Continuing Education Course

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,” said Benjamin Franklin. AIA continuing education is one of the most powerful tools a building product manufacturer can use to reach architects and spec writers. Education = Specification. An architect must understand the benefits, applications, limitations, and costs associated with a building product to specify it. Let’s explore how a building product manufacturer can benefit from developing an AIA continuing education (CE) course.

What Is AIA Continuing Education?

AIA Continuing Education is required for AIA members to maintain their professional membership. AIA members are required to complete eighteen (18) Learning Units (LU) hours of continuing education annually for membership renewal. Of those 18 LU hours, a minimum of twelve (12) hours must be on Health, Safety and Welfare (HSW) topics, the remaining six (6) credits may be on topics related to general topics such as architecture, construction and engineering.

There are approximately 80,000 AIA members who are required to fulfill their 18 hours of continuing education every year. That’s over 1.4 million hours of AIA continuing education that is needed by architects! Building product manufacturers can help architects meet these mandatory requirements by offering free AIA CE courses. In addition, most states in the country require mandatory continuing education for architects. For example, the state of California requires 5 Hours on Disability Access Requirements. New York requires 24 HSW hours every three years. Every state has different requirements, but most states accept AIA CE hours to meet these mandatory licensing requirements. The most successful, cost-effective, and beneficial education course for product manufacturers to develop is an AIA HSW/LU CE course.

What Is An HSW/LU CE Course?

Health, Safety, Welfare (HSW) in architecture is anything that relates to the structural integrity or soundness and health impacts of a building or building site. The education course must intend to protect the general public.

Health: Aspects of architecture that promote physical, mental, and social wellbeing among users of buildings or sites and address related environmental concerns.

Safety: Aspects of architecture intended to limit or prevent accidental injury or death among users of the buildings or sites.

Welfare: Aspects of architecture that engender demonstrable positive emotional and physical responses among, or enable equal access by, users of buildings or sites.

In addition, an AIA HSW/LU CE course must include one or more of the following topics: building systems, construction contract administration, construction documents, design, environmental, occupant comfort, legal, materials and methods, pre-design, and preservation. One or more of these topics can be easily incorporated into a building product manufacturer’s AIA course. To qualify for HSW credit, 75 percent of an AIA course’s content and instructional time must be on acceptable HSW topics, as outlined above. This means that if your course is 1 hour in length, at least 45 minutes must be spent exploring HSW topics. In addition, AIA CES requires that each AIA provider course provide a minimum of four learning objectives. For HSW course qualification, however, three of the four mandatory courses learning must address HSW topics.

How Do I Develop an AIA Course?

Building product manufacturers can develop an AIA course by following AIA continuing education requirements. The AIA has created a useful guide called the CES Provider Manual: Policies and Resources which we will explore. Let’s review a few basic guidelines:

  • The course must be at least one (1) hour in length, consisting of direct learning activity for a minimum of 60 minutes. The course can consist of 50 minutes of presentation time, followed by 10 minutes of a question and answer session related directly to course content.
  • A building product manufacturer’s course content must be unbiased, non-promotional, and generic. A manufacturer’s products or services can only be discussed once the credit portion of the course is completed.
  • The course materials including Power Points, handouts, brochures, product sample, etc. used during the credit portion of the course may not include any proprietary information, they must be educational, and they must serve to reinforce the learning objectives. Only the first and last slide of a presentation may include a company’s product or service information.
  • The AIA course must have a minimum of four (4) stated learning objectives.
  • The course should be created by a qualified subject matter expert and presented by individuals with a background on the subject matter.
  • The course attendance must be reported online to AIA CES within ten business days.
  • AIA courses must be updated and resubmitted every 3 years.

How Do I Become an AIA Education Provider?

  1. Submit completed AIA Continuing Education System Provider Application
  2. Select AIA CES Provider Subscription option
  3. Sign AIA CES Quality Assurance Statement
  4. Make payment to AIA/CES
  5. Allow up to 10 days for processing

The AIA CES Provider Application , is a simple three page document that must be submitted to start the process. Once a building product manufacturer has been approved as a CES Provider, they must participate in mandatory training.

AIA Presentation Guidelines

AIA lunch and learns, box lunch presentations, all day classroom events and are the most popular AIA education events for face to face courses. Educating a room full of architects, spec writers, engineers, interior designers, and other design professionals is a great opportunity to educate decision makers about your products. Building product manufacturers must sign the AIA CES Speaker Agreement before presenting a course. Manufacturers may not discuss their company’s products or services prior to, or during the educational, credit portion of the AIA course. However, presenters are permitted to discuss their company’s products and services prior to or once the educational, credit portion of the course is completed. It is crucial that manufacturers ensure that information collected on The Course Attendance Form is accurate.

Design professionals must attend an entire session to receive credit. As a CES Provider it is your responsibility to record and report AIA member credit information within 10 business days of course completion using the AIA CES Discovery system. Product manufacturers must report AIA member credit information each time a course is offered.

AIA Certificates of Completion

A certificate of completion serves as proof of attendance for participants for an AIA CES course. It documents attendance to help satisfy mandatory continuing education (MCE) requirements for state licensure. Non-AIA members need certificates of completion to prove attendance because the AIA does not track continuing education for them. Building product manufacturers are required to supply certificates of completion to participants upon request within 10 business days of course completion.

Product manufacturers must keep active files and records of all approved courses and participant attendance information for a minimum of three years from the date of course registration because of state licensing boards’ MCE requirements. States that perform random audits ask architects for course documentation, which is why CES Providers are required to retain all course records. Ultimately, record keeping becomes essential if course participants realize later that they are missing AIA credits or have lost their certificates of completion.

Promoting Your AIA Course

The AIA is neither a certifying nor accrediting body, building product manufacturers and their courses are neither accredited nor certified, they are simply registered and approved. Once your CE course is approved you are free market it, including via your company’s website, emails, brochures, etc. Product manufacturers are authorized to use the AIA CES logo to advertise their organizations as “AIA CES Approved Providers” or their registered courses as “AIA CES Registered”.

Product manufacturer logos may be displayed only on the first and last slides of a PowerPoint presentation; and the front or back page of printed materials. You may bring swag (hats, pens, mementos, etc.) to the lunch and learn but you may not pass around the information during the presentation. Once an AIA course has ended or before it begins, you may discuss any company or product information you would like with the architects. Product reps are permitted to wear shirts with their company names or logos on them.

AIA CES Course Formats

There are three primary delivery formats for AIA courses: online anytime, webinars, and face to face courses. Online anytime courses are also called on-demand courses and distance learning courses. Examples of on-demand AIA courses include presentations which are prerecorded and available 24/7, (anytime, anywhere), magazine articles, and podcasts. AIA CES Distance Learning courses also include live webinars, video streaming, and televised convention events. Each delivery format offers various benefits for building product manufacturers.

Webinars offer many unique benefits for companies. As we noted in a previous blog, webinars are very cost effective for a such a short period of time. During a 1 hour AIA webinar presentation, you can teach 250-300 architects about your products. Webinars are interactive and provide opportunities to engage with the audience and can include polls and surveys to collect market data. Manufacturers don’t have to pay for travel expenses (hotel, airfare, rental car, catering, etc.) when utilizing the webinar format either.

Online Anytime AIA courses work for your company 24/7. They are an excellent resource for manufacturers. However, an antiquated AIA online course can negatively affect your brand and open the door for your competition. Manufacturers should avoid utilizing a PDF as the prime delivery format. PDF’s pose several limitations and issues for AIA courses. Powerpoint has been the primary tool for developing AIA online courses for ages. However, manufacturers should beware of ‘Death by Powerpoint’. We have all endured bad Powerpoint presentations where the speaker reads his presentation like a robot, tons of bullet points drown out crappy stock photos, and architects suffer from narcolepsy and fall out of their chairs. The best courses utilize video and animation.

AIA Course Quiz

All online anytime courses must offer a quiz at the end of the course. The AIA course quiz should be outcomes based and quantifiable. AIA members will need to pass it with a score of 80 percent or better to receive AIA CES learning units. If they do not score 80 percent or better, they should be allowed to take the quiz again until they pass.

Getting Specified

At the end of the day, building product manufacturers want to get specified. Manufacturers must have the necessary tools and resources to succeed. AIA continuing education offers the most cost effective solution to reach design professionals. Has your company developed an AIA CE course? How does your organization use continuing education to reach architects?

For more information or to discuss the topic of this blog, please contact Brad Blank