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Course Reviewer’s Corner

By Michael F. Tamara, Assoc. AIA

Manager, Continuing Education Programs

HSW and SD: More than Just Letters

The fall season is upon us, and since Labor Day, our AIA Providers have certainly been keeping me busy reviewing courses! This, of course, is a good thing, but it means that turnaround is likely to take the entire five business day review window for the foreseeable future. As such, if submitting your courses even earlier than five days before the first session is a possibility, I highly recommend it to ensure there are not delays in the event the submission requires more information.

I would like to devote this month’s column to some words of advice regarding HSW and SD definitions and criteria. Based on the number of courses in a given week that I have to send back requiring more information, it’s evident that this is an area worth spending some time on. The following are some important points to consider before requesting HSW or HSW|SD for a course.

    • Thoroughly read the relevant sections of the Provider Manual to gain a clear understanding of what constitutes Health, Safety, and Welfare and Sustainable Design. This information can also be found at (HSW) and (SD).

    • Do not assume it to be self-evident that the submission qualifies for HSW or SD. Even if the subject of a course is something with obvious eligibility for HSW – such as accessible shower stalls – it cannot be approved for HSW credit without the learning objectives conforming to the prescribed guidelines in the links above. Eligibility is one thing; actual qualification of course content is another. The same holds true for SD.

    • The categories on the HSW topic list need to be understood in the context of protecting and promoting the health, safety, and welfare of the general public. For example, even though “legal” is a legitimate category, that doesn’t mean that all legal subjects qualify for HSW, but only those where the good of the public is involved.

    • Please do not “greenwash” submissions in order to receive SD credit. Such attempts are very transparent, and a course will not be approved for HSW|SD simply because it contains words like “sustainable”, “green”, or “environment”. The content needs to agree.

    • Perhaps the most common reason HSW and SD courses are often not approved on the first submission is that not enough of the material is relevant to the desired designation. The guidelines specify that 75% of the content needs to apply. This translates to three out of four clearly articulated learning objectives in the course submission. A submission with anything less than that will be returned to the Provider for more information.

    • Please do not assume that an old course previously granted HSW or SD credit will automatically be approved for the same designation upon resubmission.  Every course submitted is thoroughly reviewed (or re-reviewed, as the case may be) according to current guidelines set forth in the Provider Manual.  If it is deemed that the learning objectives as submitted do not fit the criteria, even a course that has been approved and reapproved as HSW for years will be sent back requiring more information.  So, by carefully reading the information in the links provided above and modifying any old courses accordingly before resubmitting them, you can spare yourself the bother and potential time delay caused by needless back-and-forth correspondence.

    Finally, I would just like to remind everyone that the link is now posted for the entire recording of “In the Mind of the Reviewer: What CES Looks for in a Course Submission”, the webinar I did on August 18th. All of the points above and more are covered in it. You may download it here.


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