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Basics of Online CE
March 1, 2012 (published) | January 17, 2018 (revised)

If you need help navigating the CE course area, please refer to Find Your Course Area, Classroom, Library, and Message Board for instructions.


Online Learning is Convenient and Easy!

  • The beauty of VIN and VSPN online CE is you can participate and interact in multiple ways.
  • The course area is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for you to access.
  • The instructor is available in the real time sessions and on the message boards while the course area is open for maximum learning!

VSPN and VIN CE courses are entirely online; they are designed around live, interactive Real Time Sessions, message board discussions, and materials in the course area library.

VSPN and VIN CE courses utilize both asynchronous and synchronous learning to maximize your learning experience. We take learning one step further!

  • Asynchronous learning - self-directed study by the participant to read documents, interact in message boards, and complete homework quizzes, assignments, or exams; participation is recorded via computer, based on completion and/or time-recorded actively participating.

  • Synchronous learning - live, real-time interaction with the instructor and classmates (Real Time Sessions) provides for immediate interaction with the instructor and other classmates, active participation in polling questions/answers, and question/answer sessions. Attendance and participation in Real Time Sessions is not required, but highly recommended.

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Membership Requirements

It is not necessary to be a VIN member to participate in VIN CE. However, rates are reduced for VIN members. Generally, veterinarians and veterinary students, veterinary academia, and those associated with the veterinary industry can join VIN. Please use the following links to learn more about VIN eligibility requirements for:

If you are not currently a VIN member and would like to join, please enroll for your CE course and choose the option to join VIN during the enrollment process. Your application will be reviewed for eligibility within 24 hours of submission.

It is necessary to be a VSPN or VIN member to participate in VSPN CE. VSPN membership is free for veterinary support staff working with, for, or in the field of veterinary medicine under the direction of a licensed veterinarian.

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It's easy to enroll on-line for VIN and VSPN CE courses. Early enrollment will assure your place in class. After you have enrolled in your course(s) and your payment is processed, expect a return e-mail receipt confirming your enrollment within 48 to 72 hours. If so requested, this receipt will be sent via regular U.S. mail instead. Just prior to the course, you will receive an e-mail indicating that you now have access to the course area and providing directions on how to reach it.

The main means for sending course communications is via e-mail so it's important for enrollees to check their e-mail frequently prior to the opening date of the course and throughout the course duration. Course enrollees must ensure that their e-mail filters permit receipt of e-mails from all and domains.

To Enroll
Go to the CE Portal page ( and find the desired course under either the "Open for Enrollment - Veterinarians"  or the "Open for Enrollment - Support Staff" list of courses. Select the desired course to open the course information page.  On that page, select the "ENROLL NOW" link and follow the step-by-step instructions.

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Course Libraries

The required and recommended reading materials for the course, other than textbooks, are located in the special CE library established for each individual CE course. Real time session transcripts, slideshows and audio are posted to the course library after each real time session. These materials will be available for you to use throughout the course and will be archived, along with content of the course message boards, for your permanent access after the course is closed.

To receive the greatest benefit from the interactive sessions, please review the materials appropriate to each session in advance. As questions arise from your review of the course materials, you can post them at any time on the course message boards (please see the following section). Some course libraries include supplemental information, including links to helpful websites.

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Course Message Boards

The course message boards can be accessed only by those registered for the course and the instructors. These special boards are open for posting messages throughout the duration of the course and for one week after the final real-time session for the course. Questions and discussions arising from the course materials, interactive sessions, or clinical case material relevant to the course should be posted on the course message boards. It's best to read the existing discussions on the message boards before posting.

You can reply (i.e., add another post) to an existing discussion thread about the topic if it's already in progress or start a new discussion if your question relates to a new topic. Message board discussions are an essential element of a successful on-line class and of your course participation. This is where topics can be explored in depth and applied to clinical cases and real practice situations.

VIN and VSPN members will have access to their course materials indefinitely. The special course message boards are available for posting from the time their course opens until it closes, at which time the course instructor(s) will no longer monitor the course message boards. The course message boards are archived after the course closes.

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Practice Sessions

CE participants need to concentrate on course content, not on Unity "mechanics," during the Real Time Sessions. You are invited to attend one of the practice sessions held three times a week,to help you get ready for your first Real Time Session. During this session you will learn

  • How the Unity classroom works
  • How to participate in polls, ask questions, view session graphics, and seek help with computer problems
  • How to find and use the course libraries and special course message boards.

These sessions are strongly recommended for those taking their first VIN or VSPN CE course and for those who haven't taken such a course for a year or more.
Visit the CE Practice Area to see the schedule for the practice sessions, as well as a link to the Unity Practice classroom.

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Real Time Sessions

Real Time Sessions are held each week in the course area classroom (i.e., the Unity CONFERENCE ROOM designated for the course). The sessions include a formal presentation by the instructor and interactive questions and answers where the instructor answers questions posed by participants. The sessions usually also include slides and/or videos and automated polls (questions with multiple-choice answer options posed to all participants). The instructor directs the session, but active participation by all class attendees is encouraged.

Attendance at the Real Time Session is NOT mandatory, but it is recommended. If you cannot attend, please be sure to read Participation Requirements and comply with those instructions. 

Please note that the CE self-directed study courses do not involve participation in Real Time Sessions.

If you have not yet used the VIN classrooms or chat rooms (i.e., Unity CONFERENCE ROOMS), you will find them easy to access with links from each course main page to the classroom for that course. The Unity software used for the Real Time Sessions uses Macromedia's FLASH player, available via a free download from the internet. To make sure your computer settings will allow you to participate in Rounds and CE sessions, take the CE Readiness Test. If your computer does not have a sufficiently current version of FLASH for a successful Unity session, the FLASH player will be automatically downloaded for you. If you see a warning message about a download, please click "YES" or "OK" to complete the download process.

Please confirm that you can reach the classroom at least the day before your first interactive session. If you need assistance, please contact VIN technical support:

VIN Technical Support
Phone: 1.800.846.0028 x127 or
1.530.756.4881 (outside the U.S.)
during U.S. West Coast business hours
(i.e., from 9:00 AM through 5:00 PM PT).

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Asking Questions During the Session

During much of the session, the CONFERENCE ROOM will be in a special mode called "moderation." During moderation, you can type and submit your questions or comments at any time. They'll be sent to a special log rather than being displayed immediately in the CONFERENCE ROOM. All questions received will be addressed by the instructor as time permits. If you don't receive a response during the Real Time Session or if your question will require a detailed answer, you can post it on the course message boards for more thorough treatment.

When the CONFERENCE ROOM is in moderation, the text-input line below the main classroom window looks like this:


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On-Line Protocol

Chat protocol is often used during VIN/VSPN Rounds or CE Real Time Sessions. This protocol is used when the text-input line below the main classroom window looks like this:


This protocol is designed to keep order, NOT to inhibit participation--we encourage participation! On-line protocol for a class or rounds session is the same as in off-line lectures/rounds/large group discussions.

It is easy to comply by using the following easy rules:

  1. To avoid having multiple participants "speak" (i.e., send text) at the same time or interrupt the instructor/speaker, the instructor/speaker is the only one who should speak without being recognized.
  2. Type your question or comment into the text-entry field at the bottom of the main VIN Unity CONFERENCE ROOM window and then "raise your hand."
  3. To "raise your hand," click on the !/? button next to the SEND button at the bottom of the CONFERENCE ROOM window. If your question ended in a question mark, a "?" character will be sent into the CONFERENCE ROOM, otherwise a "!" character will be sent. The "?" indicates you have a question and the "!" character indicates you have a comment.
  4. You know it is your turn to transmit text when the instructor sends "GA" (go ahead), followed by your name, into the CONFERENCE ROOM window.
  5. Once you have been acknowledged by the instructor with a "GA", you simply click on the "SEND" button to send your text.

During some sessions, the instructor may wish to poll all attendees or otherwise encourage participation without adherence to protocol. If the instructor sends "GA, everyone" or "GA, all," you may enter your comment or question directly into the room without first raising your hand and being recognized.

Please do NOT "Talk in private" (i.e., initiate a PRIVATE CHAT) with the instructors. Their names are listed in bold blue type at the top of the list of users to the right of the main classroom window. In the following example, Vincent Guiermo is an instructor. Running the Real Time Session and answering participants' questions is a full-time responsibility for the instructors.

You are always welcome to contact a moderator or classroom assistant during the Real Time Session. Their names are listed in bold black type below the instructors' names on the list of users. In the following example, Peggy Hall is a moderator.


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Participation Requirements

For courses with Real Time Sessions, the VIN and VSPN course coordinators must account for a course participant's active involvement and participation during the course. You can participate by contributing comments, asking questions, and participating in the polls during each session. If you are not able to attend a session, you can compensate for your absence by studying the transcript and slides/videos of the session. You can post comments or questions about the transcript and library materials in the course message boards to accrue required participation points. Then, you will be prepared to engage in the message board discussions that result.

How is my on-line attendance tracked?

There are several ways.

  1. Complete transcripts of the real-time class sessions are kept for possible auditing by a state or provincial board. In addition, your participation in session polls and homework assignments and quizzes is tallied; the statistics are retained for review.

  2. A complete transcript of the course message boards is kept for 5 years for possible auditing by a state or provincial board.

What do you need to do to participate and receive a CE certificate?

You must demonstrate that you are actively participating in the course:

  1. Participate actively in the course an average of 3 or more times each week (exceptions may apply). This can include postings on the course message boards and/or participation in the Real Time Sessions. You can meet these requirements by posting to the course message board, by "speaking up" during the Real Time Session (i.e., answering the poll questions and submitting questions and comments during the session), by completing any homework assignments provided by the instructor, or by any combination of these. If you miss a Real Time Session or can't visit the boards in any given week, you will still receive credit provided you meet the requirement for total participation by the end of the course.

  2. As required by RACE and VIN, successful completion of the end-of-course test is mandatory. A score of 80% is passing. If you don't take the end-of-course test, we cannot award a CE certificate for completion of the course. You will have until the course area closes to complete the end-of-course test. You can take the end-of-course test repeatedly until you score 80% or better. You will receive one participation point for your highest passing score (80% or greater) on any quiz or end-of-course test. 

  3. For some VIN and VSPN courses, homework assignments, and/or completion of the end-of-course evaluation will be required. Please check the specific requirements of your course on the course home page.

At the end of a course, the VIN or VSPN CE office will confirm your actual participation. If you have met the requirements for a certificate of participation, you will receive an email notification indicating when your course certificate will be available for download from your MyCE. You can go on-line to your MyCE page and download your certificate anytime after the date specified in the email notification. 

Each participant is responsible for keeping track of each hour of CE credit earned and for printing or saving this completion certification for submission to his or her accrediting board(s). We provide certificate information to any state or province board only in response to a question from your accrediting board.

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Withdrawing from a CE Course

A complete refund of the paid course price will be issued when your withdrawal request is received prior to the listed start date of the course. If you wish to withdraw after the start date please contact the VIN/VSPN CE offices to discuss eligibility for a pro-rated refund.
VIN CE office: 800.846.0028; ext. 797
VSPN CE office: 800.846.0028; ext. 792. 

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Contact Us

If you need additional assistance with VIN or VSPN membership, CE enrollment, certificate requirements, or certificate documentation, please contact the VIN/VSPN CE staff:

Phone: 800.846.0028  or 530.756.4881; ext. 797
Phone: 800.846.0028 or 530.756.4881; ext. 792

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