Your association provides your members with many opportunities to develop as professionals, from interacting with colleagues in their fields to completing courses that will provide them with the certifications necessary to advance in their careers. When your association integrates the software solutions that facilitate these member experiences, you’ll be able to better serve them and save your team time and energy in the process.
An association LMS is a learning platform that allows your members to enroll in and complete continuing education courses. Whether you’re thinking of adopting your first LMS or you’re upgrading your current system to a more robust solution, it’s important that this system is able to communicate with your other software systems.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important steps in selecting an association LMS and integrating it with your association management software (AMS). We’ll guide you through the process so that your association is ready to:
- Choose the right LMS to suit your members’ needs.
- Integrate your LMS with your AMS to gather valuable data.
- Use eCommerce features to distribute courses to members.
- Engage your members in live learning events.
- Gather member feedback to tailor future learning opportunities.
Before you begin setting up an integration, it’s essential that your association chooses the right LMS to suit your members’ learning needs. Do your research and compare features to ensure that you make the right selection.
1. Choose the right LMS to suit your members’ needs.
When you choose an association LMS that makes online learning engaging and fun for your members, they’ll be motivated to complete more courses. This benefits both your members’ professional development and your association. Choose an LMS that your members will love using and your team will find easy to keep updated.
A top association LMS offers:
- The ability to create course templates. This way, you’ll be able to make sure that your members are learning the most relevant knowledge and skills with each course they complete. Look for the option to save successful courses as fresh content for future use.
- Gamification and interactive learning features. Gamification features such as badges and scoreboards motivate learners to keep participating. Meanwhile, interactive learning features such as drag-and-drop areas and multimedia components keep them engaged in the content. You can check out Web Courseworks’ guide to association LMS features to learn more about features that engage members in online learning.
- The ability to scale up with your association. Choose an LMS that doesn’t require you to keep purchasing new features or options as your membership base expands. A scalable association LMS is more cost-effective and saves your members and your team time and energy.
By selecting the right association LMS, you’ve already surmounted many of the initial challenges of planning courses that arise in the online learning process. To ensure that you provide them with the best possible experience, integrate your LMS with your AMS to ensure that your educational content continues to address your members’ needs.
2. Integrate your LMS with your AMS to gather valuable data.
Ideally, your AMS is your system of record for member information. Whether you want to know:
- How many conferences or events they’ve attended.
- What their preferred contact method is.
- When they joined your association.
All of this data is easily accessible in your AMS. Integrate your new LMS with your AMS to supplement existing member information with valuable course completion data.
Integrating your LMS and your AMS or member database begins with a meeting held between representatives of your association and representatives from your LMS provider. Together, you’ll create an integration plan that will keep member data updated, synced, and stored in the right places.
To integrate your LMS and AMS, you’ll need to:
- Identify points of contact. On your association’s side, this means the members of your team who are most familiar with your AMS or use that system most frequently. They’ll meet with representatives from your chosen LMS provider to determine your goals for the integration and how the two software systems will communicate.
- Hold an integration meeting. At this meeting, your association will want to come prepared with the types of member information that will need to transfer automatically between your AMS and LMS once the integration is complete. You’ll also want to determine how members will sign into the LMS and how course completion records will be transferred back into your AMS.
- Review the use case document the integration team creates. Your association’s representatives should fully understand this document, which outlines the integration team’s plans for the integration, before the process of connecting the two systems gets underway.
Integrated systems provide members with an easier and more streamlined experience, minimize the risk of erroneous or lost data, and eliminate the need for outdated software systems that you may have been using to fill gaps in functionality.
Once your LMS and AMS are integrated, you can use the eCommerce features of your AMS as one convenient way to distribute courses to your members.
3. Use eCommerce features to distribute courses to members.
Whether you’re selling branded merchandise to attendees at your most recent conference or providing them with opportunities to upgrade their memberships, there are several ways in which your association can use eCommerce to boost revenue and better connect with members. Once your LMS and AMS are integrated, add continuing education courses to the list of purchases members can make through your eCommerce platform.
To get members excited about purchasing courses, you’ll want to:
- Identify opportunities for eCommerce. Let your members know that you’ve upgraded your LMS or expanded your course offerings during your next conference or event. Additionally, link to your eCommerce page or platform on the homepage of your website, on your social media accounts, and in your email marketing efforts to keep members informed.
- Market to your members’ educational needs and interests. With integrated systems, you’ll have access to your members’ course completion and certification histories. Recommend courses based on their past purchases to address their specific interests. Look for an association LMS that automates this process to offer more accurate recommendations.
- Ensure payments are secure. Your eCommerce page and any other online location at which members can purchase courses and other products from your association should feature your familiar brand elements to ensure trustworthiness. Additionally, you can check out Snowball Fundraising’s list of the top PayPal alternatives to help you choose a secure payment gateway for your eCommerce platform.
Online continuing education courses are convenient and effective ways for your members to learn the knowledge and skills that will help them move forward in their careers. They’re also not a solitary endeavor! With the right association LMS and the help of your other software systems, you’ll be able to engage your members in various forms of social learning.
4. Engage your members in live learning events.
When your members are able to interact with their fellow learners and approach course material using a variety of perspectives, they’ll be more motivated to take part in their courses. Choose an LMS that offers social learning opportunities and use your AMS to facilitate data management.
You can use your association management software to automate communications with members informing them of upcoming learning events. Once they’ve participated in the event, this will be recorded in your AMS.
Meanwhile, use your LMS to:
- Facilitate event registration. When your systems are integrated, your members will be able to register more quickly because some of their information is already stored in your AMS. Any additional data they provide during the registration process will be stored in both systems.
- Upload materials once your event is completed. Place-based, live trainings do not guarantee full attendance. You can use your LMS to upload materials distributed at the event so that those who couldn’t participate can still access them.
- Keep social learning going using the features of your LMS. Discussion boards and live chat features are important components of a top association LMS because they allow online learners to benefit from interaction with others in their courses. This way, social learning can happen wherever your members may be!
Your members will be motivated to attend your live learning events when it’s easy to register for them. Click here for more tips on using your software to facilitate the registration process.
Once your members have been using your LMS regularly and have gotten to know its features, gather feedback so that you can tailor future courses, as well as offerings such as live training, to suit your members’ needs and preferences.
5. Gather member feedback to tailor future learning opportunities.
The best LMS for your association is one that your members will be excited to use again and again. After implementing your new system, ensure that you gather feedback from your members to improve their learning experience even further in the future.
There are several opportunities to gather valuable feedback that will benefit both your members and your team. Try reaching out to your members when they:
- Begin using your system. Do your members find it easy to find, purchase, and complete courses? Is the information presented in ways that make sense to them and facilitate their learning? Feedback such as this is important to take into account as you create future courses.
Attend live learning events. Live learning events provide an excellent opportunity to speak to your members in person. What did they like about the event, what could be improved, and how can they apply what they learned from the event to their own professional development?
- Complete courses. As your members begin building up a course history, you’ll want to make sure that the additional courses that are being recommended to them are relevant to their professional goals and interests.
When the courses you create using your association LMS are easy to access, promote engagement, and address your members’ most pressing educational and professional needs, your members will be eager to complete them. Take their input into account as you expand learning options for your association.
Continuing education courses provide your members with a convenient way to learn new skills and grow in their professions. With the right association LMS and useful integrations with your AMS and other software platforms, your association will be able to create and distribute courses to members efficiently and effectively.
Amber Bovenmyer is the Director of Sales & Marketing at Web Courseworks.
She’s committed to helping association executives realize the potential of their education programs and turn them into high performing revenue generators. Amber was named one of Madison, Wisconsin’s 40 under 40 and the number 1 LMS salesperson by Talented Learning.