One of the challenges that associations face when choosing a learning management system is trying to focus in on what is truly needed in order to best serve the education needs of their members. This can get really confusing since there are over 125 LMS systems in the market today. Some have their own niches that they serve, others have all kinds of bells and whistles, and some are nothing more than content servers that give the association the ability to give members access to recorded web sessions. A recent blog post by Capterra highlighted several ways it could be possible to choose the wrong LMS for your organization. With so much to choose from it can be easy to lose the sight of the overall goal that the association had in the first place, and wind up with an LMS that doesn’t get the job done. What are the key features your Association LMS needs?
Focus on Features for Successful Education Programs
With this in mind we have made a list of five key components that every association should consider when selecting an LMS. Some of these may sound simplistic, but we are focusing on essential features to enable delivery of meaningful educational content. Many associations may also make use of other features included in many learning management systems such as eCommerce or event management, but these 5 features are the basic features needed to ensure the successful delivery and management of education and training programs.
- Easy to Navigate User Interface – This goes without saying. An easy to navigate user interface will assure your organization that members who use the system will come back to use it time and time again. If the UI is difficult to navigate, has too many steps, or the design just looks outdated, members and non-member learners will resist using it. Your learner’s time is valuable and if they can’t figure out the UI quickly they will leave and not come back.
- Ability to Deliver, Manage, and Track All Types of Content – In order for your training to be engaging and relevant it needs to encompass multiple delivery types as well as support all types of content. For instance your LMS should be able to track and manage classroom training, online training, webinars, on-the-job training, testing, external training, blended learning, etc. In order to support these training types the system must also support a whole host of content types such as: audio, video, text, webinars, HTML, recorded web sessions, etc. Being able to support these types of training modes and content types, while adhering to educational content standards, assures the delivery of engaging training to your members and learners.
- Solid User Tracking and Management – Members and learners need to know where they stand with regard to their training progress through a course, certification program, learning program, or other mandatory training requirements. An LMS that offers this type of user management will be of great benefit to their members and be a reason that they come back to the system time and again to review and manage their own training.
- Complex Testing Capabilities - Testing is an important aspect of a true learning management system. An LMS should offer assessment, quizzing, attesting, and survey capability. Having multiple question types, the use of question pools, question randomization, answer feedback, timed tests, and secondary password security will give the association a means to offer relevant assessments for education and credentialing programs.
- Collaboration and Communication with Member Learners – More and more, social media tools are becoming an essential requirement for member collaboration. With this comes the need for discussion groups, forums, and communities of interest. Enabling these tools in your LMS will allow your association members to create relationships with other members that are taking the same class, belong to a particular type of group, have like interests, and communicate for many other reasons that can all be tied to learning from within the LMS. This component will be just one more reason for your members to keep coming back to your LMS, as it becomes a form of informal learning support, especially for members dispersed across a large geographical area.
We realize that each association will have other needs and reasons for offering an LMS. However, we believe that selecting an LMS that has at the very least these five key components is crucial in deploying a successful learning management system solution to deliver meaningful education programs for association members and non-member learners.
TopClass LMS includes all of the features above, in addition to eCommerce, event management, and standard integration bridges to the top association management systems. To see the benefits of an LMS built with the education needs of associations in mind, request a demo of TopClass LMS today!