Game changer—that’s a pretty bold declaration about an LMS but we stand behind it. I read that a game changer is “the transformational magic that takes organizations from ordinary to exceptional.” An LMS can transform your educational programs and membership experience in just that way.
It’s not only the technology that’s the game changer—it’s the changes in your association’s culture and mindset that make this new bigger vision possible. An LMS can kick start the type of change that allows your association to have a much bigger impact on your industry or profession, and on your members. “Game changer” sounds about right.
Lead the lifelong learning competition
Associations aren’t alone in thinking about education as an essential part of their business model. In the last decade, several players have upped their lifelong learning game:
- Colleges and universities
- LinkedIn, Udemy and other online learning organizations
- Commercial training companies
Seeing the unending need for new skills and knowledge, they’re expanding beyond their traditional audiences and starting to play in your sandbox. Even your own vendor members are getting into the learning business, but for marketing reasons. For example, think about all the vendors in the association community who offer webinars and user conferences for CAE or CMP credit.
But your association has an advantage over these competitors. You are not purely profit-driven. You’re mission-driven. You share common goals, values and vision with your members.
Check out what your competition is doing and find ways to differentiate your educational programs. Take full advantage of your LMS so the learning experience you provide is as good if not better than any of your competitors.
Help industry employers bridge the skills gap
The world of work is changing so quickly that many employers have a hard time finding qualified candidates. Talk to employers in your industry about skills gaps and ways your association can help train the existing and future workforce.
Learning pathways can help employees who worry about keeping their skills sharp and remaining promotable and employable. These designated routes through online classes, courses, and other educational programs are designed to help someone prepare for a career or update their skills. Upon the completion of a pathway, the learner receives a digital badge, certificate, or certification.
Host your industry’s career advancement hub
Your association should be the first place professionals go when they want to learn something new or brush up their skills. An LMS makes it easy for learners to find and access educational content whenever and wherever they need it.
An LMS can support a wide range of educational programs beyond courses and webinars. You can offer certification programs, certificate programs, mini-courses, learning challenges, micro-credentials such as digital badges, learning pathways, and apprentice programs for professionals who want to advance in their career or switch careers.
Enhance the membership experience
Members don’t expect their life to stay the same when they join your association. Your association brings them opportunities for lifelong learning and lifelong relationships.
Personalized orientation experience
Start the membership experience off right by using your LMS for new member onboarding and orientation. The LMS gives you the opportunity to design a new member learning journey that fits the needs and interests of different membership segments. Eliminate the information “overwhelm” caused by traditional orientation programs, by spacing out the information into digestible chunks.
Identify the reasons each membership segment joins, the problems they want to solve, and the resources they need. Design a Membership 101 course that shows them how to achieve their goals and get the most from their membership. Because you’re using the LMS for orientation, it’s easy enough to introduce new members to the online learning programs that might interest them.
Accessible education for everyone
In many associations, the only members who benefit from education are those who can afford to take time off and travel to conferences. Online learning levels the playing field.
With an LMS, you can provide educational programs of all lengths and formats to every member—conferences are no longer the only option. You can even give them a free sample to show them what they’re missing and convince them to invest a little time and money in professional development.
Members no longer have to worry about FOMO when they can’t attend a conference. They can catch up on what their peers experienced by watching or listening to conference recordings.
Members connecting with other members
According to the latest membership marketing benchmark report, the number one reason members join associations is to connect with other members. If your LMS has social and collaborative features, your online learning programs provide an opportunity for learners to interact and develop relationships with peers.
Improve the learning experience
With an LMS, you have more control over the learning experience than you do with conference education. You can be sure the principles of adult learning are applied to online learning program design and delivery.
Education anytime and anywhere
With an LMS, you can provide education for all budgets and schedules. Learners can access programs on their phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop whenever they please.
Micro- and macro-learning
Not everyone is a dedicated learner. Even though it’s good for you, some people have to be encouraged to develop the learning habit. Give people the option to try out online learning in small bites, and gradually prepare them for making a bigger commitment.
Many learners today want time-efficient, engaging, useful, bite-sized learning, just like what they watch on YouTube. They think they’re too busy for a traditional course. Start them out with a few free samples of bite-sized learning and then point them in the direction of a learning pathway made up of short modules. As they progress through the pathway, their motivation to learn more will increase alongside their sense of accomplishment.
Proof of accomplishment
If your learners work hard, why shouldn’t they brag? They can let the world know about their accomplishments by displaying digital badges on their social profiles and websites.
With an LMS, learners have more options for getting the credits they need to apply for or renew certification. They can use the LMS to track their learning history and credits as well as the status of their professional credentials. Learners can import their external credits too so when it’s time to renew, they don’t have to go back through calendars, receipts, and brochures to figure out how many credits they’re earned—everything’s in the system. Once they finish a certificate program, their certificate can be automatically printed and displayed.
Try a blended or flipped learning approach to your conference. Give attendees who sign up for specific tracks the opportunity to start their learning experience online before the conference begins. Provide videos, readings, and an online discussion group where they can meet other attendees. With this approach, during the conference, instructors have more time for interactive activities and discussions. After the conference, invite attendees back to the LMS where they can explore related content and keep their learning momentum going.
Deepen relationships with members and prospects
You’ll develop lifelong relationship with learners as you help them manage their professional development. Include educational benefits in your membership packages to help attract and retain members.
- Provide a member discount.
- Offer organizational memberships that include a package of educational credits for their staff to use.
- Provide additional perks or bonuses to members.
- Include early career online learning programs in a young professional membership package. Give them a taste of education and they may develop a habit for it.
- Use webinars or mini-courses as lead generation for membership marketing.
Reach new audiences with online learning
Your educational content may appeal to people who are outside your traditional membership, for example, those who wouldn’t usually attend your conferences or who aren’t a part of your traditional audience.
- Students and early-career professionals
- Professionals in related professions and industries
- Industry partners (vendors)
Increase non-dues revenue
An LMS opens up new ways to bring in revenue besides the sales of online learning programs to individuals.
- Repurpose and sell conference content.
- Become the preferred educational partner in your industry by selling online education to corporate members and customers.
- Build stronger partnerships with industry vendors through online learning sponsorships.
An LMS creates new possibilities for your members and your association. Its benefits are practical—more revenue and less busywork—and transformational. Online learning programs transform members’ lives. They can also transform your association by making you an indispensable partner to employers and employees in your industry or profession. Why settle for ordinary when you can be exceptional.