Sofware and services for emergency management and rescue organisations

You are here

Tracking course session completion

Posted Thu, 03/21/2013 - 14:13 by Scott Robinson

A common question asked is "How do we track which components of a course a member has completed".

An example of where this question arises is in British Columbia where SAR volunteers are deemed Members In Training until they complete  a base training course in SAR, this course covers all aspects of SAR in BC and is based on an 18 chapter manual.  This course is taught in house by groups individually with each group arranging multiple training sessions covering one or more chapters from the training manual, typically the training sessions are held at the general group training sessions (e.g. once a month) which means the course can run for a up to a year.  As a result not all the members in training may be able to make every session and make up sessions are required prior to the course completion therefore training officers need to know which components (chapters) of the course each member in training has completed.

VolunteerRescue supports this as follows.

Option lists

VolunteerRescue allows a group to define their own option lists, these are lists of predefined options and are used throughout the system and are ideal for course tracking as the group controls the options in the list.  For a multi session course create a list with options for each component of the course , this may be one option per component or where a number of chapters are covered in the same session multiple components can be combined in one option list item.  When defining the option list specify that the list applies to either events, event participants or both.

Items in option list


All "Members in training" should be added to a role created specifically for this purpose.  This role can be used throughout VolunteerRescue to restrict access, send e-mails etc... to those members that are currently members in training.

Event category

Whilst not necessary it is advised that if the course will be held more than once (e.g. each year) that an event category is also defined for the training sessions.  This provides a further method to group all related training sessions together which can be used in the reports to better filter the results in the report.


Selecting components

Each of the training sessions that cover components of the course will be added to VolunteerRescue for display on the calendar and so members can register for the event etc...  and once the event has completed those members that participated are added as participants of the event.

If the option list defined above was defined as available for events you will be able to select which components the session covered on the event main edit page by selecting the relevant option(s) from the list and all participants of the event will be recorded as completing the selected components.

If you want finer control define the option list as available for event participants and then for each individual participant on the event you will be able to specify which components they completed.


All the information about which members have completed which component is now in VolunteerRescue and all that remains is accessing this information in an easy to read format, this is where reports come in.  The report of choice here is the "Event member involvement summary by option list", this is a crosstab report (pivot table) that lists the members as rows and the option list items as columns producing an easy to read grid.

This report has a number of fields for selecting what the report should show and typically you would make selections as follows

Date range The period over which you want to see which members have completed which components.
Option list Is the option list created that contains an option for each component of the course.
Event category Typically select just the training categories, this will make the report run quicker as only training events will be included in the report.  If you created an event category specifically for events that relate to the course you just need to select that event category.
Roles Is the role created above, again to speed up the report as the report will only be interested in the Members in training.  If you opted not to create a role you can still restrict the report to just those members taking the course by selecting the course partipants individually.
Member status Will generally already have the required selections made.

Tip: This is quite a number of options which can become tedious if the report is run numerous times over the duration of the course, but no problem, use the "Saved selections" section to save the criteria as defined.  When you need to run the report again just select the saved criteria set using the "Saved selections" section again, you can even add the report to a menu to be run directly from a menu option or even a desktop icon.

Running the report will show the grid below where the number represents the number of times a member has participated in a training session where they have completed that component.  Alternative reports are also available for viewing the information in different formats.



Where the course is repeated the above can be reused year on year and all that needs to be updated each time the course is run is who the members are in the Member in training role.

This approach can be used for any course that will be run over multiple sessions, depending on the frequency of the course you may decide not to define a new role or event category and instead when running reports select the members individually when selecting the criteria for the report.