There are a few different reasons why people join associations. Maybe it’s for networking opportunities or to strengthen their position in the industry. Most commonly, though, people join associations to take advantage of the professional development opportunities that associations provide their members.
As a leader of an association, one of your priorities is fostering the continuing professional development of your members. This includes providing networking opportunities, posting job boards and directory listings, and most importantly, facilitating Continuing Education (CE) opportunities.
However, providing CE opportunities is no simple task. From creating courses and marketing them to your members via email to tracking your members’ performance, there are a number of things to consider.
This becomes particularly true as your association grows in size, with more and more members leaning on you for CE programs and certifications. Hiring a trainer and hosting in-person events, while helpful in some instances, is not enough to keep up with your association’s growing educational needs. You’ll need to implement an association Learning Management System (LMS) to truly cover your bases.
There are a wide variety of reasons that associations should implement an LMS, and we’ve gathered six of the most important. Utilizing an association LMS to create, manage, and carry out your CE program allows you to:
- Simplify the course registration process.
- Author original courses and duplicate successful models.
- Personalize assessments to specific learners’ needs.
- Engage learners with social experiences and gamification.
- Track course progress and completion.
- Maintain course quality as your association grows.
To put it simply, an association LMS can drastically streamline the way your organization offers professional development opportunities to its members. Follow along to discover why, and then bookmark this guide to technology for associations to refresh your knowledge of the various platforms mentioned. Let’s dive in!
1. Simplify the course registration process.
If you need learner registration, Regpack is a great solution. However, if you need to register learners and provide course material through online means, an LMS might be the solution for you.
Managing course registration can be a major pain point for association management. Gathering contact information, collecting payment, and providing access to course materials can become overwhelming — fast. If you already have a fleshed-out CE program, you might benefit from a registration solution such as Regpack, but if you need a more comprehensive solution consider using an LMS.
With an LMS, members can enroll and complete courses without the administrative burden that comes with manual course enrollment and management. Most importantly, it simplifies the course registration process by keeping all information (registration, course completion) in the same system.
The eCommerce features of an LMS allow you to sell and distribute courses to members, while integrations with your AMS (Association Management Software) and adaptive learning capabilities allow you to market courses to members who are most likely to respond to them. By bringing marketing, registration, and course completion under a central location, the process is made significantly more efficient.
2. Author original courses and duplicate successful models.
Providing ongoing education to members can take many forms, whether it’s about updates in industry best practices or news affecting your association’s members. You’re plugged-in to what your association’s members need and want to learn, so it’s important that you can create courses reflecting that. Access to pooled knowledge is one of the major draws of joining a professional association, after all.
Working with an association LMS allows you to:
- Create unique courses representing what your association’s members most need to learn.
- Boost engagement within your courses by adding interactive elements, whether gamification, social competition, or even videos.
- Duplicate successful courses, changing the course material to reflect updated topics but maintaining the familiar template for learners.
- Distribute these courses to members digitally, removing any lag time between industry updates and member awareness.
Providing professional development opportunities to your association’s members means constantly creating relevant and engaging courses. An association LMS gives you the tools to do so in a timely manner. Check out this Web Courseworks guide to association LMS platforms for more information.
3. Personalize assessments to specific learners’ needs.
Just as not every member of your association will have the same continuing education needs, not every learner will navigate content at the same speed and proficiency.
Ensure every learner’s ability and knowledge level is addressed in your course offerings. While this may be difficult to do with say, a single trainer-led live presentation to members, working with an adaptive LMS is an entirely different story.
An adaptive LMS system allows you to:
- Track course completion and success of individual members.
- Recognize courses with most (and least) success, as well as common pain points.
- Reinforce difficult concepts to specific members with adaptive quizzes and assessments.
- Recommend future content to supplement that which members have already completed. This is one of Regpack’s top course marketing ideas!
With adaptive learning processes in place, each and every learner can navigate your coursework at their own pace and truly get the most out of the experience.
4. Engage learners with social experiences and gamification.
As crucial as continuing professional development is, there’s no denying that at times, education can fall to the wayside if it’s less-than-engaging for those completing it. For associations, one major pitfall is offering CE experiences to members who ultimately aren’t interested in taking advantage of it!
It’s important to make sure learners are fully engaged in your CE offerings, and an LMS can help in the effort.
There are a few different ways to engage learners in their education:
- Incorporate social learning elements, including a discussion board for members to learn from one another and a leaderboard to inspire healthy competition.
- Use gamification elements to address a variety of learning styles, from adaptive quizzes to in-course games.
- Host live learning events alongside your e-Learning opportunities, leaning on an LMS integration-friendly event management tool and mobile event app (learn more here) to plan the experience.
The ability to incorporate these elements into your members’ education requires an LMS with robust course authoring capabilities. Make sure you’re using a system that allows you to create unique, engaging courses without placing too much of a technological burden on your association’s instructional designer.
5. Track course progress and completion.
One of the biggest benefits of incorporating an LMS in your association’s management is the information it can record, a positive for both your organization and its members alike.
Your LMS can record eLearning course and certificate completion as well as live event accomplishments.
For your association, this means tracking important metrics and compiling reports on live event attendance, course completion, course efficacy, and even top learners. Use this information to refine your course offerings to better serve members’ educational needs, whether that’s revising a particularly difficult course or adding more material about a popular subject.
For your association’s members, this means tracking course and certificates completed outside of your association, at live association events, and even within your LMS itself. Then, via integration with your AMS, learner information from the LMS gets seamlessly transferred to the member profile kept in the AMS. To learn more about the member information in an AMS, check out this guide by Fonteva.
6. Maintain course quality as your association grows.
As your association grows in size, providing CE experiences to members can become challenging. While hosting in-person training and doing manual course registration and management may work for smaller groups, the same cannot be said for associations with a large member base.
Growing membership is no excuse to drop the ball on providing valuable professional development opportunities to members. One of the biggest advantages of an association LMS is that the system can drastically ease the scaling-up process as your organization grows.
Whether you’re working with 100 members or 1,000+ members, the cost of providing educational opportunities remains the same. Traditional in-person training expenses, such as venue, travel, and catering are eliminated with digital training. This allows you to focus on course quality, and not on increasing overhead.
Further, courses in your LMS can be evergreen. That means that new members can access content provided to long-time members months prior, and navigate them at their own pace. Instead of hosting a plethora of new member workshops each time you have an increase in membership, you can simply direct them to tried-and-true content!
Though providing CE activities to members is a key facet of your association’s activities, that doesn’t mean doing so is an easy task. There are quite a few moving parts, including registration, content, and the members completing it.
Incorporating an association LMS in your efforts can streamline the process and provide benefits for your association and members alike. You’ll have access to improved course authoring, registration, and member engagement features. Not only that, you’ll also be able to compile valuable reports and scale the courses up as you go, ensuring your offerings continue to improve.
There are many reasons an association LMS can improve your CE offerings, and the previous six are just a start.