The growth of online learning will continue to increase dramatically over the next five to 10 years as associations increasingly need to train and further educate members for success in their chosen industry or profession.
Almost every association has considered initiatives to expand the reach of their education programs from live location-based events and the accessibility of other educational resources by providing online learning opportunities to members and non-members alike. Online learning allows associations to achieve these goals for less time and money while maintaining the quality of their programs.
Why Learning Management Systems?
The attraction of online education for associations is the ability to exponentially expand their reach. Associations can reach more people with learning resources in less time and for less money with a learning management system (LMS) than they can in person, or through an ad hoc-managed program.
The benefit for users of online education lies in the attraction of its ease of use and personalization. Regardless of where they live, their stage in their profession, or how much time they can commit, online learning provides opportunities for continuing education and fosters results that location-based learning cannot.
Four Essential Elements to an Association Learning Management System
Below are four prominent elements associations look for in their quest to provide not only more, but better online learning experiences through an LMS:
1. Use of simple and common tools to create content so courses can be created and updated quickly and cost-effectively by almost anyone.
- The desire for a clean, intuitive content management system that has a fresh look and is easy to use by staff and end users is one of the biggest motivating factors in their choice an LMS or switching to a new one.
- Not every association can or wants to hire instructional designers to create content in a third-party tool because doing so costs money and takes time. They want to use tools accessible to them like common video or audio files, PowerPoint slides and PDFs. Non-tech staff members also want to use tools that intuitively walk them through the creation of tests or certificates.
- Associations want administrators to be able to easily add and update content in the LMS without needing knowledge of code or HTML.
- Simple tools allow an association to quickly push out late-breaking content that is important to their industry so they become the go-to resource for industry professionals.
2. Easy access and better reporting/learning analytics to determine ROI and impact the design of future of learning
- Associations want accurate, reliable data that gives them quick visibility into the effectiveness of their learning programs and the ROI it is conferring upon their members.
- They want 24/7 access (and be able to grant access to reports for additional staff) with easy filtering of data and exporting to Excel. And many associations want their LMS to integrate with their AMS to sync with specific data.
3. The ability to repurpose valuable content easily
- Many associations take live webinars or recordings and wrap tests, surveys and certificates around them.
- Using recorded event content for access on-demand individually or to be repurposed at future live events, such as lunch and learns, expands the library of resources available to members, and helps ensure content will be consumed and valued by more people.
- In efforts to leverage the time and expense that goes into a location-based event like an annual meeting where killer content is shared, many associations record and place them in their LMS for future on-demand access. Depending on how your association gives access to different member groups — attendees, non-attendees, members and non-members — repurposing through an LMS can become a revenue opportunity. LMS-based content can be provided for free as a member benefit, or for a fee.
4. Mobile viewing – on any device, from anywhere, at any time
- Users want to be able to access learning on demand, and they want a consistent experience from any device. More and more users are taking advantage of additional learning outside of work hours. This means they may be watching a video from their living room on their tablet or on their phone during transit, and when they get to their desktop, they want to pick up right where they left off on their mobile devices. Some users find it important to access educational content while on a remote project/job or to prepare at their leisure for a particular task.
Many associations are finding relief and excitement in their search for the right partner and platform. The upfront costs and implementation time have decreased dramatically. In addition, many platforms can be scalable: It may start as a platform to deliver meeting or webinar content and later grow to include LMS features like tests and certificates. Association are also using LMS platforms as their webinar platform – a one-stop location to register for events, launch live events, and archive them for on-demand access.