Online Training Standards

What is the difference between online training and virtual training?

“Online Training” means an eLearning course taken through an automated learning management system.

“Virtual training” means instructor-led, remote learning environment conducted in real time via video conferencing. More information can be found on the DSHS Virtual Training Standards page.

Please note that DSHS will not approve online training that does not meet our online training standards. Online training with slides that advance automatically and that do not require learner participation will not be accepted. Recorded PowerPoint presentations and recordings of live presentations will also not be accepted.

Whenever possible, online training should reflect person-centered care, language, and practices.

For DSHS to approve online training courses, the training content must meet the following:

Additional requirements for online home care aide core basic training

  • Content must meet: core competencies and learning objectives
  • Businesses interested in developing online home care aide core basic training must contact DSHS prior to developing the course. DSHS will provide Washington state specific laws and rules, as well as other requirements at that time. Already developed courses that are not Washington state specific will not be accepted for review, except for continuing education.

All online courses submitted for approval must meet the standards in design, functionality, and usability that are detailed below. They also must be delivered through a learning management system (LMS).

Copyright, fair use and licensing

Online course content must adhere to all copyright, fair use, and licensing requirements. The course must clearly state the copyright and licensing status of all non-original content, including video, images, and music, with written permission to use when applicable. Fair use standards include the following prohibitions:

  • Denying credit to the original author or creator.
  • Using nonprofit content in commercial activity or a for profit product.
  • Using the written content, videos, and/or images produced by others as the majority of your course, i.e. the percentage of your online course that is original is less than the percentage that was produced by other sources.
  • Using the work of others for repeated or long-term use.

Online courses must include detailed reference pages.

Equity, diversity, accessibility, and inclusion

The DSHS Aging and Long-Term Support Administration (ALTSA) promotes choice, independence, and safety through innovative services and partnerships with tribes, advocates, providers, and caregivers to support seniors and people with disabilities so they can live with good health, independence, dignity, and control over decisions that affect their lives.

Online training that discriminates based on race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, political affiliation or belief, veteran or military status, or any other category protected by law will not be accepted.

Whenever possible, online training should meet Web Accessibility and W3C Standards and promote equity, diversity, and inclusion practices.


Readability is the education level required to read text content. DSHS recommends a readability range from 6th grade to no more than a 10th grade level as well as the use of plain language. For more information, please visit the resources linked below.

Instructional and technical support

Learners should be able to access instructional and technical support and receive a response from the training program offering the online course within three business days. The online course should provide clear instructions for learners to understand where they can direct their questions about functionality and content.

Learning objectives and course overview

Online courses must have clear learning objectives that list what the learner will be able to do as a result of taking the training.  Online courses should begin with a complete overview of course content or table of contents that is informed by the learning objectives.

 Learning objectives should:

  • Be actionable or measurable.
  • Course learning objectives should describe the core knowledge and skills that the student should be able to perform after completing the course.
  • Content, learner engagement activities, and the assessments should be consistent with the course learning objectives.
  • Learning objectives should be written to follow the clause "At the end of this course, the learner will be able to..." or something similar, followed by an action verb.
    • For example:  At the end of the course, the learner will be able to:
      • List the different symptoms of COVID.
      • Explain the importance of PPE.

For more information on writing learning objectives, click here.

Interactive self-paced learning and course navigation

Interactive self-paced learning is designed to allow the learner to control their learning experience. The learner needs to be able to advance the learning, pause it, and rewind it as needed. This means there should always be a seek bar in the training or some means for the learner to navigate the slide at will. Slides should not auto advance. Not only does this make it hard for the learner to revisit content, but it also does not allow learners with screen readers to know where they are in the training.

Online course navigation and formatting should be intuitive and consistent for the learner throughout the training. The learner should receive instructions for course functionality and navigation in an overview at the beginning. Ideally, the course should have an accessible navigation pane that lists the course content.

Learner engagement and interactive resources

Online courses should engage the learner and provide an active learning experience. A self-paced online course that only requires the learner to press “Next” will not be approved. Learner engagement activities should engage the learner in thoughtful participation to reinforce and apply the target knowledge, concepts, and behaviors directly related to course content and reflected in the learning objectives.

Learner engagement activities gauge the learners’ understanding of the material presented in the course and provide an opportunity to practice or think about how to apply their learning in their role. Relating to the actual experience of long-term caregiving illustrates relevancy and helps the learner retain the information.

 The learner should not be able to proceed through the course without engaging and successfully completing the activities. Examples of these interactive activities and checkpoints include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Scenarios or case studies with multiple responses and a best response
  • Multiple choice knowledge checks
  • True/false checkpoints
  • Fill in the blank activities
  • Links to additional details and resources

Learners should have access and opportunities to downloadable resources such as reference guides, handouts, or job aides that reinforce comprehension and provide the ability to deepen understanding after they complete the course.

Assessment policies

Online courses must include a final assessment that must be successfully completed before issuing credit for the course. If the material is long or complex, there should also be module reviews that require successful completion before the learner is able to advance.

Final assessment questions must reflect the course’s learning objectives. The questions should be clearly written and have one correct answer. 

When the course content is successfully completed, prior to the final assessment, the learner should have the ability to easily navigate back to review the course until they feel prepared to take the test.

Updated 10/2023