If you’re considering a new Learning Management System (LMS), you’re likely realizing the vast amount of providers available to select from. LMS providers generally fall into a few major categories of focus:
- Corporate: Corporate LMSes emphasize employee training programs with features that support managing HR required training and tracking compliance.
- Higher-ed/K-12: Higher-ed LMSes emphasize formal degree program students with features that support classroom instruction and multi-year curriculum tracking.
- External Training: While there are many advantages to an LMS built for external training, highest on the list is its emphasis on continuing education for adult learners with features that support a wide range of delivery mechanisms and track lifelong learning.
An Association LMS falls into the external training category and offers a unique feature set and value proposition for associations compared to a corporate or higher-ed LMS. Association LMS platforms solve key problems that associations are faced with when offering education to their industry.
Industry education is broad and can take many forms. Associations offer a portfolio of education to serve their diverse audiences in the formats that meet individual learners’ needs.
Solution: No One-Size Fits All Approach
An association LMS must enable associations, not hold them back. No two associations offer the same portfolio of education, and an association LMS needs to be flexible enough to meet each industry’s learner preferences. This flexibility comes in the form of association LMS integrations with systems such as Association Management Systems (AMS), live webinar platforms, data analytics platforms, and community tools.
In addition to an integrated solution, an association LMS must offer native authoring tools that are easy to use and enable a wide range of content formats. Associations aren’t just launching webinars these days, their education portfolio includes a wide range of course formats. Content portfolios we’ve seen associations deliver include webinars (live and on-demand), micro-credentials, eLearning modules created via SCORM, instructor-led training, live workshops, multi-track certification programs, self-assessments and more.
Many associations have historically relied on member dues for revenue growth. In today’s learning business landscape, member dues are not enough and have seen declines in some industries. The education ecosystem mentioned above is a significant value that associations are contributing to society. Associations are building financial sustainability by treating their education programs as a learning business, tracking ROI along with learning outcomes.
Solution: Optimized Education Catalogs with a Personalized Experience
An association LMS should come armed with an optimized LMS catalog. What should you be looking for? Your members desire the ability to easily search through your education offerings. If they type in the keyword “surgery” they will be served up a listing of the most relevant courses the association offers on surgery. Even better, they should be able to sort and filter by credit type, price, and format as well. Searching isn’t the only important element. An optimized catalog also enables varied pricing models. Associations building a learning business will explore subscription-based education along with the ability to purchase individual courses. These eLearning pricing models should be easily accomplished and served to your members in your catalog. Lastly, a personalized association LMS catalog will help improve member engagement. Using your LMS-AMS integration, the LMS catalog can personalize recommendations so your learners know exactly what they should be purchasing to improve their skills.
The competitive landscape for continuing education is constantly changing. There is free content everywhere, and free content helps us build our audience. As Jeff Cobb from Tagoras noted in his lessons from big learning, ““Free” is powerful – as a way to attract prospective learners to you, build an audience, and build momentum.” However, it can’t stop at free. How can associations add value over the noise? They must harness that value from their Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and turn it into meaningful, impactful education. This can be hard to do without the right tools.
Solution: Instructional Design and Authoring Tools that Promote Higher Levels of Learning and Retention
We’ve learned more about knowledge retention the past few years after spending more and more time learning online. In order to add value over free education in the market, associations are creating learning experiences using learner engagement tools. Member engagement in your learning community leads to higher retention – retention of members and learning retention! Using your association LMS, you can add social elements such as discussion boards around a specific topic, enable learners to grade each other’s responses and offer their experience and feedback, and encourage a higher level of learning through micro-credentials or badges. Your association LMS then becomes a hub for knowledge sharing in your community, and a safe place to learn fearlessly!
Amber Winter, CEO
About the Author
Amber Winter started her career in sales and marketing and quickly grew to love learning about all aspects of business, leading her to take on the CEO role at Web Courseworks. Web Courseworks is an EdTech company specializing in building learning businesses for associations. In her role, Amber works closely with Association Executives to improve learning business strategy and innovation. As CEO, Amber has the objectives to make Web Courseworks a Best Place to Work Company, a scalable enterprise, and the top SaaS learning management system for Associations. She promotes a “Learn Fearlessly” mentality encouraging and embracing failure as an opportunity to learn. Amber was named one of In Business Magazine’s “40 Under 40” and the #1 LMS Salesperson by Talented Learning.