A key way associations provide value to their members is through offering training and education. Whether by helping members maintain licenses and certifications or teaching new skills, professional development opportunities boost engagement. And, in a world that is always changing, continuing education (CE) keeps your members up to date on best practices and trends in your industry.

Today’s largely remote work environment leaves no opportunity for in-person training sessions — yet the need for resources that help members succeed in evolving workplace conditions is more pressing than ever. A learning management system (LMS) can provide powerful educational opportunities to your association’s members, regardless of whether you are able to meet in person.

Let’s explore how an LMS can benefit your association’s educational efforts and promote workplace success in today’s climate and beyond. If you’re looking for a new way to upgrade your association’s current training and continuing education programs, an LMS could be a good fit.

Training Challenges in 2021

The unique conditions of last year likely illuminated opportunities to introduce new technologies across all aspects of your organization. Now, in 2021, your day-to-day operations still have to occur outside the office, and you’ve probably pivoted key efforts like association events to virtual platforms. But have you found a comprehensive solution for your educational offerings?

Piecemeal approaches to online training like one-off video seminars, printable materials and podcasts may have helped you fill in the gaps last year, but your system may pale in comparison to what you were able to accomplish in person. When it comes to your training needs, 2021 poses a difficult set of challenges. Your association is likely still struggling with:

    • Distance: Most in-person meetings are still impossible due to health and safety concerns. As a result, you are likely still modifying training and educational offerings to enable remote facilitation.
    • Attention: Remote learning can easily be interrupted by distractions like children, pets or ever-present digital notifications. Trainee attention and engagement is more difficult to maintain in home environments.
    • Volatile conditions: Ever-changing workplace conditions mean ever-evolving training needs. You want your members to have access to the most up-to-date information, but it can be difficult when things are shifting almost constantly.

An LMS will help you not only overcome these challenges but also develop a comprehensive training system that is powerful in its own right. Education experts have known the benefits of eLearning long before our current crisis, and the pandemic may be the prompt you were looking for to start implementing online learning for your members.

What Is an Association Learning Management System?

Associations use LMSs to provide high-quality continuing education opportunities to members. Within an LMS, you can create and host courses, offer certifications and accreditations, and provide the cutting-edge knowledge and techniques your members need to succeed in your industry. You can also track user progress and other information to draw valuable insights and make data-driven decisions. You may even be able to customize the design of the LMS to match the design of your association’s website.

When it comes to choosing the right LMS for your association, there are a number of factors to consider. A strong association LMS offers useful features that you can personalize to meet your organization’s specific needs and create the best learning experience possible for your members.

Overall, an LMS can help you build a comprehensive curriculum of training content that facilitates member development and drives data-informed improvements to your organization.

5 Ways an LMS Can Support Member Learning

One of your organization’s objectives is to support the professional development of your members by sharing industry knowledge. An LMS can facilitate this goal by providing an integrated learning experience. Here’s how:

1. Provide a Consistent Continuing Education Experience

An LMS helps guarantee consistency in your training program, no matter how chaotic the outside world may seem. When workplace conditions and industry practices are rapidly shifting, a stable continuing education system provides continuity and stability. Your members will be reassured by this guaranteed access, which will reinforce their trust that you have their best interests in mind.

These advantages will persist even once in-person work resumes. Once your association is up and running with an LMS, members will enjoy the flexibility of being able to work through learning materials on their own schedules. And, if an issue arises, you can rest easy knowing that your programming won’t be impacted by situations like inclement weather or venue booking conflicts.

2. Increase Member Engagement in Education

In order for a training course to be meaningful, your members need to be personally invested in their progress. Sometimes, creating that engagement is easier said than done, especially when your CE content has to compete in a learner’s hectic schedule.

Anyone voluntarily participating in a continuing education course should be committed to it, but there are still a few ways an LMS can help to maintain motivation throughout a course:

    • Interactivity: Even if members want to pay attention, one-way content delivery makes it too easy to click “next” without engaging with the material. Adding interactive elements like quizzes and hotspots helps to ensure retention and success.
    • Social learning: External motivation drives many learners, and a social atmosphere is possible in a virtual environment. Social learning features like leaderboards and messaging can facilitate competition and collaboration, both of which boost engagement.
    • Gamification: Gamification is growing in popularity, and for good reason — it works. Many LMS platforms use gamification elements to help boost learning outcomes. In-course games, points systems and badges encourage learners to see a training course as an engaging activity, not a boring class.

3. Improve Credit Tracking

An LMS enables you to offer your members access to the crucial licenses and certifications relevant to your industry. Additionally, you can use an LMS to keep better records of your members’ required CE credits. Your members should be able to easily access, export and share their hard-earned credentials with employers.

Be sure to look for an LMS that integrates with the association management system you use. Then, you’ll be able to see all the important information about each of your members in one place. When members finish a course, their achievement will automatically be added to their association profile.

Internally, credit tracking can provide valuable information to your association, especially when you look at trends and patterns. The ability to see which courses and programs your members gravitate toward can guide your future offerings. On the other hand, if the data indicates a drop-off in participation or a high failure rate, you’ll know where to make changes and improve materials.

4. Adapt Courses to Learners’ Needs

One of the biggest advantages of eLearning is the ability to deliver individualized instruction. Each of your members has different needs, and with an LMS, you can create training courses to meet them. A learning management system caters to your members through:

    • Personalization: An LMS can deliver powerful course recommendations based on user information. By learning from data about past courses and interests, the system is personalized for each member.
    • Dynamic quizzes: LMSs can adapt dynamic individualized assessments in real time based on user performance, providing more targeted feedback so learners know exactly where to focus their energy.
    • Accessibility: By using an LMS, you can more effectively cater to all of your members, regardless of geographic location, ability or immunocompromised status. You can also check that your content meets essential web accessibility standards, like providing transcription for videos.

5. Simplify the Course Authoring Process

Of course, you want your LMS to make the learning experience seamless and intuitive for students. But it is just as important to have a platform that simplifies and streamlines the process of creating courses. To that end, look for an association LMS with features that prioritize the authoring process. You’ll want a system that allows you to easily craft your courses without a huge learning curve. A good LMS will help you quickly launch timely content or adapt material to take advantage of trends in eLearning.

With an LMS, you can easily duplicate and update a successful course or start from scratch with a new topic. Either way, the process will be effortless, and your instructional designer will have more time to focus on what matters — researching and developing useful content.

An association LMS is a powerful tool to boost learning outcomes and promote professional success. And, with so many advantages, eLearning isn’t just for the era of social distancing. With an LMS, you’ll be better equipped to help your members succeed in both remote and in-person environments.