One of the main functions of an association is facilitating the professional development of your members. This could mean providing networking opportunities (maybe through an online member community), posting job openings, and even providing continuing education (CE) programs. Today, we’re going to focus on CE opportunities.
It’s vital for industry professionals to stay up-to-date on their learning, whether that’s renewing certifications or diving into the latest innovations in their industries. However, it’s no secret that perpetual learning is less-than-engaging to some.
It’s vital to provide content that’s truly engaging to increase members’ productivity with continuing education programs. The easiest way to do this is by implementing a Learning Management System (LMS). Check out the following tips for doing so:
- Choose the right LMS for your association’s needs.
- Promote social and live learning opportunities.
- Create timely courses and keep members informed.
- Analyze trends surrounding your course offerings.
- Integrate your AMS and LMS for heightened abilities.
Continue reading to learn more about incorporating an association learning management system (LMS) to increase the productivity of your members.
1. Choose the right LMS for your association’s needs.
In order to use an LMS to deliver education to your members, you first must choose one that has the specific features meeting your association’s needs.
There are a few LMS features that are generally recognized as must-have across the board, and a few that are more specialized to meet your association’s specific needs.
As far as absolute necessities, however, look for the following features:
- Authoring tools with diverse content creation options. Choose an LMS that offers options such as video, webinar, text, graphics, assessments, and even gamification to address all learning styles.
- Intuitive, easily navigable interface. Ensure you’re working with an LMS that’s easy for learners to use, ensuring an enjoyable experience for those navigating it.
- Adaptive learning capabilities. An LMS with adaptive learning features, such as dynamic quizzes and automatic course suggestions, creates a personalized experience for each learner.
- Social learning features. Choose an LMS with social learning features, such as discussion forums and learner leaderboards. This motivates learners with healthy competition and provides them with another educational resource— each other.
- Ability to integrate with your specific AMS. For example, if you’re working with iMIS AMS software to manage your association, you want to choose an LMS that is compatible.
Finally, choose an LMS that allows for seamless branding to your association’s website and other distributable materials. That way, members are unaware when they enter your LMS that they’re entering a third-party system. This creates a cohesive learning experience for association members, one of the many advantages of using an association LMS.
2. Promote social and live learning opportunities.
Though online learning is taking the association learning world by storm, that doesn’t negate the fact that humans are inherently social. Luckily, you don’t have to sacrifice the convenience of using an online system to create social CE opportunities.
There are a few different ways you can incorporate socialization into your LMS-hosted course offerings to increase member engagement:
Messaging and Discussion Boards
Include discussion boards and live chat features to encourage learners to engage with one another.
They’ll be able to discuss materials with each other and solve problems, gain new perspectives, and better understand the course materials. This unity and quick solution-finding motivates learners to continue through your LMS offerings.
Competition and Gamification Elements
Encourage healthy competition between association members learning within your LMS to motivate them to be more productive.
Consider incorporating a leaderboard on your LMS’s main page displaying top learners, highest achievers, or some other distinction along those lines. Further, incorporate gamification elements within courses themselves such as flashcards, games, and dynamic assessments.
Host live-learning events for members within the same geographic region and allow these members to record their newly completed courses and certifications in your LMS.
Provide the reference materials used in the live event as online resources for members who want to access the course remotely— whether due to an inability to make the in-person event or a desire to refresh their memory post-event.
Ease the live event-hosting process by using management software that integrates with your AMS. Research this type of software before investing using Fonteva’s guide to event management software.
3. Create timely courses and keep members informed.
One way to increase members’ learning productivity using your LMS is simply by creating new material on the latest trends in their industry. Create courses that track these innovations in your industry, to ensure members are always privy to the latest skills needed to succeed. After all, as an association, your first concern is your members’ professional development.
Choose an LMS that offers easy course authoring and duplication features to assist you in doing so. You’ll be able to create new courses from scratch, as well as copy successful past courses and update them with new material.
Make sure you’re working with an LMS that can inform members of new course offerings as they’re made available. There are two ways this could play out:
- Your association releases a new course offering and members are informed via email or another method of the new opportunity.
- A learner completes a course and is looking for their next CE endeavor. Your LMS suggests courses that would best suit that learner’s professional development.
Providing courses relevant to your members’ field is one surefire way to entice people to join, and renew membership, with your association and be more proactive with their CE after doing so.
4. Analyze trends surrounding your course offerings.
Choosing an LMS that offers comprehensive reporting functionalities across your CE opportunities is a must because that data will help you determine what’s working and what isn’t. Use the data provided by these reporting features to analyze what’s working— and what isn’t— in the opportunities you’re providing to members.
Course data you should be collecting:
- Which have the highest/lowest completion rates?
- Which have the highest/lowest abandonment rates?
- Which topics are your members most familiar with? Conversely, least familiar with?
Member data you should be collecting:
- Which segments of your members have the highest course completion rates? Lowest?
- Which members are scoring the highest on courses?
Once you’ve identified the answers to each of these questions, consider the following: Why are each of these trends occurring?
Is a course unnecessarily difficult, or maybe even too easy? Is one segment of your population receiving less attention, and educational opportunities, than others?
Use this information, both the data and the “why,” to create better courses and certifications to serve your members going forward. By creating opportunities catered to their needs, you’ll motivate members to be more productive and proactive with their learning going forward.
Pro Tip: Connect your LMS with your Google Analytics account and eCommerce solution for an even deeper look into the performance of your programs.
5. Integrate your AMS and LMS for heightened abilities.
Choose an LMS that offers an AMS integration for increased functionality for both you and your association’s members. Integrating your LMS with your AMS allows data gathered in the former to flow seamlessly into the latter, and vice versa when needed.
This integration is beneficial for a few different reasons:
- Easy registration for live learning events. Integrating your systems provides more convenient live event ticketing and registration options for your members. Further, if you plan to offer merchandise in conjunction with the event, you AMS’s eCommerce features can host those sales.
- Heightened course suggestion abilities. Your AMS is the most comprehensive database you have regarding your members, and likely includes information on your learners’ goals and professional achievements. Provide your LMS with access to that information for more precise, personalized course suggestions for each member.
- Efficient, specific communication. Certain learning opportunities will only be relevant to groups of your membership, such as those in regional chapters or other member-run subgroups. Your AMS holds the information regarding these groupings and providing that information to your LMS ensures those groups are aware of the available opportunities.
- Easy transfer of completed courses. Your AMS likely hosts professional member profiles through which members can display their reigning achievements. By integrating with your LMS, whenever a course or certification is completed, these achievements can automatically reflect in a member’s AMS-hosted profile.
The efficiency and increased functionality provided by integrating your LMS and AMS will both encourage members to engage with your course offerings and encourage you to create the best courses possible. If something is convenient to do, you’re more likely to do it!
Check out this guide to association management software for more information on the benefits of this integration.
Keeping association members engaged and motivated in their own professional development via CE opportunities is both a challenge and a necessity. If you’re just beginning your search or looking to upgrade your association’s tech tools, check out Web Courseworks comparison of the top software for associations. With the help of learning tech, you’ll have an engaged community of learners in no time.