Certifications within Your LMS: Three Reasons Why This Makes Perfect Sense

Certifications within Your LMS: Three Reasons Why This Makes Perfect Sense

In the past several years, we have witnessed significant development and expansion in LMS offerings. Today’s platforms provide a wide range of contextual education experiences including formal or curriculum-based education, informal learning, live events, and social learning.  Many of our communities value the opportunity to have a single, central repository that provides different leaning options and formats.

With so much invested in these online learning portals, it makes sense to continue to build and expand on what an LMS is able to provide. Including certifications in your online education strategy helps create a more impactful and recognized standard of achievement.  Certifications are the ideal component to augment and extend the value and the investment you have made in ensuring your LMS becomes a success. In addition, certifications enable education program providers to more effectively validate and reward achievement that is recognized by one’s peers and potential employers.  Essentially, offering certifications within your organizations LMS can extend the platform’s value and help build on your established success.

 

We have identified three key benefits of offering certification programs within your LMS:

  1. Create of a Pathway towards Achievement

Certification provides organizations the ability to configure a predetermined curriculum or pathway that serves as a navigator or blueprint towards a greater goal.  This added enhancement provides learners a sense of purpose as they can connect their work in the LMS to an overall strategic purpose and mission. Certifications and features of the LMS are an ideal match to present content, validate progress and award achievement.  Gaps in knowledge are easily identified which helps pinpoint areas for improvement.

 

  1. Leverage Your LMS more effectively

Being certified in something that typically translates into one’s expertise within a specific area of study or work.  It is understood that if you are going to be certified you will typically need to invest a significant amount of time and money to reach your goal. Given this commitment, it only makes sense to leverage these achievements within your current LMS platform by offering certification programs to your learners.  The days of sending learners to a third party site are coming to an end, and now it’s easier than ever to utilize your investment right within your LMS to validate course content and testing components. Bringing these participants to the LMS leverages your investment, increases traffic and avails learners to other opportunities to engage content experts and peers.

 

  1. Streamline Processes

There is a good chance your LMS is integrated with your ecosystem of applications. You may already have data reporting in place to transfer results from education activities to a third party database or AMS. Offering certifications within your LMS can piggyback on this integration and allow a seamless reporting of results without additional programming.

If you offer or plan to offer certifications to your community, consider an LMS platform that had a feature that supports these programs along with other education offerings.

 

To learn more about Elevate LMS and CommPartners Certification Module, please contact Meghan Gowen at mgowen@commpartner.com.

 

Introducing e-Learning to Your Association: An Easy Q&A

Introducing e-Learning to Your Association: An Easy Q&A

Jake Fabbri, Chief Marketing Officer at Fonteva, provides his perspective on prioritizing a well-conceived approach to education design and selecting the ideal LMS for your organization. CommPartners and Fonteva understand to achieve success with one’s learning initiatives, it’s important to have a seamless integration between your AMS and LMS. We appreciate Fonteva’s focus on education as a component of an organization’s online presence and value their contributions to the field of online education.  

Your association’s favorite job is providing value to your members in a variety of different ways. Some associations hold conferences, others hold networking nights, and others do both. But one new technology makes it easier to engage your members and provide value to them in an engaging and exciting way.

That way is through e-learning! Like with any new technology, implementing a learning management system (LMS) into your association’s member engagement strategy can be a complex process. That’s why we’ve created a list of some of the most common questions that your staff or members may ask:

  1. How does a learning management system work?
  2. What are the differences between an LMS, an LCMS, and a CMS?
  3. What features does our staff need in an LMS?
  4. What features do our members need in an LMS?

Armed with the answers to these questions, you’ll be more prepared to integrate your new e-learning software into your association’s strategies and help your members further their careers.

1. How does a learning management system work?

When you first introduce a learning management system into your association’s offerings, you’ll likely be met with a lot of questions. The first is, “How does this work?”

A learning management system works by creating an interface where instructors and members can both log on to watch webinars, read articles, submit their own work, and interact with other members and instructors.

There are usually three different types of logins:

  • Student or member logins. This level of access allows members to pick courses they want to complete, view their learning history and transcript, and work towards completing their coursework.
  • Instructor logins. This level of access allows instructors to view their learners’ work, grade assignments, upload or edit course documents, and post videos or host webinars.
  • Administrator logins. This level of access is for those who create the courses. In this position, your staffers can create and edit courses and view trends in attendance, popularity, and more.

Your learning management software should integrate with your association management software, so that the LMS acts as an extension of your AMS and your member data can flow easily between the two systems.

2. What are the differences between an LMS, an LCMS, and a CMS?

These three acronyms, while all important to the learning management industry, vary between their functionalities and their target users.

  1. An LMS is a learning management system. It is primarily used in professional training and higher education settings. An LMS is focused on providing training for certain topics while empowering the administrator to track progress, completion, deadlines, and objectives.
  2. An LCMS is a learning content management system. The main difference between this and an LMS is that the primary user of an LCMS is the course creator. An LCMS is used primarily to create, save, and organize different e-learning courses. It allows multiple authors to work together to create one course that is then available in a variety of formats.
  3. A CMS is a content management system. This system is less specifically geared towards e-learning and more towards information publication and distribution. CMS platforms allow the administrator to decide what is private and public information while allowing you to tailor access to both, but it is not focused on learning. WordPress and Hubspot are popular CMS platforms.

Your association should focus on finding and introducing the right LMS to your members.

3. What features does our staff need in an LMS?

When introducing a learning management system into your association’s strategy, you need to ensure that you’ve chosen one that can help your staff create the most effective and engaging courses possible. Simply put, you need to be able to track data and empower students.

In short, you need to have features that allow your staff to do what needs to be done easily and effectively. The most important features for your LMS are:

  • Custom design capabilities.
  • Brand matching capabilities.
  • Seamless integrations.
  • Comprehensive reporting.
  • Customer support.

When purchasing an LMS, make a list of features that your individual association requires. Depending on your own members, industry, or size, you’ll have different needs than other groups, so make sure that you get the right LMS for you.

4. What features do our members need in an LMS?

The needs of your members will be different than the needs of your staffers because they’ll be interacting with your LMS in a different way! Keep these needs in mind when searching for the right set of features.

Your members will be more invested in the courses that your LMS offers if it allows them the freedom to do three things:

  1. Learn in the ways that are best for them.
  2. Interact with their peers.
  3. Gain something valuable towards their careers.

These three things are crucial to creating a strong e-learning strategy for your association. If your LMS doesn’t click with your members, they will be less likely to stick it out to the end of the course. In order to offer all of these options, look for the following features from your LMS provider:

  • A personalized learner dashboard.
  • Recommended content based on previous history.
  • User profiles with interests and professions.
  • Forums and discussion boards.
  • Webinar and web conferencing options.
  • SCORM compliance and CLE/CME/CE/CPE credits.

When your LMS encourages members to get involved, work alongside like-minded individuals, and further their own careers and ambitions, it will be far easier to introduce and implement an e-learning strategy into your association.

Author Bio: Jake Fabbri is the Chief Marketing Officer at Fonteva with over 18 years of experience working in marketing management. He has experience with lead generation, content marketing, marketing automation, and events.

Making Marketing Simple for Associations

Making Marketing Simple for Associations

Guest blog by Sheri L. Singer, Singer Communications. 

Marketing can be confusing and overwhelming. Why? Because marketing encompasses everything your association does.  No wonder it’s overwhelming.

Here are some tips to break marketing down into bite-sized pieces.

1. Understand the difference between objective, strategy, and tactic.

A good marketing program starts with a strategic marketing plan. To write this plan you need to recognize the differences between objective, strategy, and tactic. Objective refers to an overarching goal such as grow membership or raise the visibility of the association. Everything in your plan needs to fall under the objective.

Tactics are the activities you undertake to achieve the objective. For example, draft a media list, post to Twitter, or write content for your e-newsletter.

Strategies fall in between your objective and tactics–so if you are going to draft a media list, a strategy may be to reach out to traditional and digital journalists to raise the visibility of your association.

2. Write a SHORT plan

Writing a plan isn’t where we make mistakes. We write beautiful plans that are 5 or even 15 pages long. The problem is that no one is reading a 15-page plan. So it sits on your shelf. Here’s a solution — draft a very brief plan. Use a one-page chart, or an infographic or video. Think about delivering your plan in an innovative way to keep it off the shelf.

3. Create messages that reflect your brand

From your elevator speech to the paragraph that closes your news releases, the way you describe your organization contributes to your brand–or the way people perceive your association. It’s critical to ensure that your leaders, members, staff and everyone else involved in your association talks about your organization with one voice. Creating messages and training your leadership to deliver those messages are a key element in creating a consistent brand.

4. Use compelling information to tell your story

Every association has a story. Figure out what makes your organization different and tell that story in compelling and personal ways. This is where testimonials — either written or through video, and photos come into play. Be sure to tell your story consistently, repetitively and through as many distribution channels as possible.

5. Add the personal touch

Research indicates that we join organizations and keep paying dues because we feel connected. That connection doesn’t stem from a group email that starts with “Dear Member.” Return to basics. At the very least, address members by name in your emails. Better yet, choose a small group of leaders and members and write them a personal email to see if you get an improved open rate or response. Make sure that every member gets a call from you once a year to touch base.

6. Know your members

Market research provides valuable insight into your members. But most associations believe they can’t afford market research. First, if you conduct a membership survey, you can get a great deal of member information if you ask the right questions on a survey you are already conducting. Second, market research can be conducted for $50,000 or  $20,000. If you adjust the scope of the research project, you can learn more about your members in a cost-effective way.

7. Focus on more than 1 distribution channel

Today, many associations are stuck between members that didn’t grow up using computers, mobile phones or social media and those who did. This technology gap is a challenge because we need to reach our members where they are — AND they are all over the place. That’s why most of us need to leverage several distribution channels (email, mail, video, website, digital media, etc.)

8. Engage your audience

Be honest. How many reading this post social media messages such as, “Join us at our annual meeting on April 12-15 in Denver.” These messages have a zero engagement component. What about asking a question or conducting a poll such as “How many of you are looking forward to hearing our annual meeting keynote and how many are more excited to participate in our first volunteer charity event?”

9. Be consistent.

Consistency is the way to build a strong, recognizable brand. Among your association’s targeted audience — leaders, members, potential and lapsed members, elected officials, journalists, related organizations, and other stakeholders — be consistent in the way you represent, describe and talk about your association.

10. Monitor your brand

Once you consider these marketing tips, you need to monitor your brand for relevance, consistency, and perception. There are countless ways to do this both qualitatively and quantitatively. With most association leaders asking for more and more result measurements, report to them using both hard numbers and successful anecdotes.

Sheri L. Singer helps associations solve their communications, marketing, and public relations challenges. She is president of Singer Communications, Chair of ASAE’s Healthcare Community Committee, and founder/organizer of the D.C. Idea Swap. She speaks and writes extensively on communications topics affecting associations. sheri@singercomm.com @sherisinger wwwsingercomm.com

5 Books to Inspire Leadership and Innovation

5 Books to Inspire Leadership and Innovation

In the spirit of today being World Book Day, we have compiled a list of some of our staff’s top book recommendations for e-learning leaders. These books fulfill different needs in our lives, whether it is to inspire or inform.

Through reading, we can learn skills, adopt new perspectives, and experience personal growth. Books embody themes that translate to our everyday lives, and additionally, convey new ways of thinking that can strengthen organizations. The five books we listed provide core strategies for empowering leadership and inspiring innovation.

I hope you enjoy our recommendations and learn something new!

 

CP Recommended Reads:
Competitive Advantage – Tracy King, CAE

In her debut book, Tracy highlights common mistakes associations make with their learning programs, and also provides a strategy that will take your association to the next level.

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box – The Arbinger Institute

Is your leadership style effective? Are you inspiring those around you? This book forces an interpersonal examination to combat self-deception and encourage an environment of trust, teamwork, and enthusiasm.

Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs is an icon and an inspiration whose drive for perfection revolutionized the technology sector with an emphasis on user experience. His life and work are a source of inspiration for not just those in the technology sector, but also those who aspire to pursue innovation, push boundaries, and lead a purpose-driven life.

Mastering Leadership – Robert Anderson and William Adams

Unlike other leadership books, this one provides a comprehensive model for leadership development, not just for yourself, but for the entire organization. By recognizing leadership is a collective effort, the authors outline strategies to become a mindful leader who can drive personal growth within the entire organization.

Don’t Make Me Think – Steve Krug

For those who work in web design, this book is a must-read for developing a common sense approach to web design and functionality. The author argues good web design begins with understanding the instincts of the user and should be so simple that users barely need to think to operate it. This is an excellent book to encourage approaching design in new ways.

10 Takeaways from CP’s Peak Bootcamp

10 Takeaways from CP’s Peak Bootcamp

1. Community Starts With Trust

To kick off Peak Bootcamp our keynote speaker, KiKi L’Italien, discussed the importance of community. Who is your community? What are some shared experiences or interests that bring your community together and create a purpose for them to engage and interact with one another?  

These are a few questions to ask yourself and your team to help develop a clear concept for the best approach to building a strong community. Take the time to understand your members and peers. By doing this, you are quickly showing them that they can have trust in you and your organization. KiKi’s keynote presentation really dove deep into how to build a core community and ways to incorporate virtual elements that allow you to extend your reach to every person that belongs regardless of location.

2. A Good Partner and Strong Communication Goes a Long Way

During Peak’s Devil in the Details session, the team from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) shared that their key to putting on successful virtual events consists of a good partner and seamless communication from beginning to end.  Building a strong event communication plan allows all key players to have clear expectations of their tasks from all sides of the event planning process and in return, increases productivity leading to a successful outcome.

3. You Have to Consider the Production But Don’t Forget the Function

Before you consider the production of your virtual event, you have to think about some key factors. This is where inspiration, learning, and training come into play. When planning an event it’s crucial to consider the inspiration. By doing this you are creating a learning opportunity that brings together a core purpose that is relevant to your audience and makes the remote learner feel like they are onsite with the speaker. Other things to consider are using best practices that can help your audience and think of specific ways that add to the training that they are receiving by including a credit or social opportunities. 

4. It’s Okay to Step Outside Your (virtual) Comfort Zone

Don’t be afraid to take risks, even if they include stepping outside of your organization’s niche focus. Today, sharing relevant thought leadership ideas that pertain to topics such as culture, diversity, and inclusion may not be relevant to your association, but they are relevant to the lives of your members. As we spoke with Tonya Muse, Executive Director at the Council of Manufacturing Association (CMA), she discussed their decision to take a risk by planning a session based around social bias within the association community.

5. Literally, the Devil is in the Details

No detail is too small and what is common sense to one may not be to another. It is important to think through every detail, including contingency plans, and to relay all relevant information to the key players. You may not think you need to tell a keynote speaker what to wear, but if your event is going for a certain look, make sure you share the dress code. Planning a virtual event is completely different than an in-person event, so when you are considering a hybrid event, it’s important to consider all details from content, production, staff roles, branding, camera placement, and so much more. A strong partner will help you navigate the planning and execution, though.

6. Don’t panic, most people are tardy for the party!

If you’re concerned about your registration numbers, don’t be! NASW discovered that most of their attendees registered the same week of their event. It is crucial, however, to have a clear promotion plan to ensure the event is reaching your intended audience via organic and/or paid social media, email campaigns, and word of mouth.

7 Don’t Underestimate Event Setup Time

One thing that our audience discovered during Peak was that a virtual event setup takes much longer than you might expect. According to CommPartners multimedia producer, Bryan Ranharter, the Peak setup at Spire took the team about 2 ½ hours to complete. It is essential to give your tech team ample time to test all the equipment, conceal the wiring, check the audio, and the list goes on.

8. Don’t Be Scared to Utilize Your Virtual Engagement Toolbox

When putting on a virtual event, it’s important to think of any and all ways to get your remote audience engaged in what’s happening on site and interacting with the speakers. During Peak Bootcamp, our team utilized our virtual engagement tool that allowed our remote audience to upload photos from their location, engage in a live chat, share their thoughts on the session through an interactive mood indicator, give input via live polling questions and even enter a live raffle for the chance to win a fun prize. During this session, they also encouraged our onsite audience to get involved by logging in and getting a glimpse at how we were engaging with our remote audience. It’s exciting to use these types of tools and see the remote audience come to life with their responses, comments, and questions.   

9. Monetizing Webinars Can Lead to Bigger Partnerships Down the Road

Peak Bootcamp speaker, Erin Snyder from Consumer Bankers Association (CBA), shared with our audience how they monetize sponsorship through webinars. A few key takeaways that Erin shared was to protect your brand by steering clear of sales pitch content, get insight from your membership to understand what it is that they want to learn about, and embrace your technology by working with your event partner to stay up to date with new features and ways to engage and interact with your online audience.

10. Give it a shot! The Reaction to Virtual Events Might Surprise You

NASW addressed the fact that, yes, some organizations have their concerns about producing and hosting virtual events. What will the registration look like? How will we engage the audience remotely? However, based on NASW’s positive experience, they confidently encouraged the Peak audience to take a chance!

At first, planning and implementing a virtual event might seem a bit scary, but try one because you might be surprised how well your community responds to the idea of virtual events. Looking for some direction on where to begin? Consider a hybrid event for the perfect starting point. By incorporating an onsite audience and a virtual audience into the event, your organization will still be able to have the in-person format that you might be used to, but also break the barriers of travel by allowing those who may have scheduling or cost conflicts to feel included with the ability to engage remotely. Additionally, virtual events do not take away from those willing to travel to your event, but instead, extend your organization’s reach to those who might not be able to attend otherwise.

CP’s Unique Outlook on Onboarding

CP’s Unique Outlook on Onboarding

The CommPartners Approach to Onboarding Your LMS

Last week, I was speaking with a colleague who had just returned from an all-inclusive vacation in Mexico. During our conversation, I asked what some of the highlights from her trip were. The response I received sparked a thought about the true value that comes with genuine customer service.

Now, you would think that the first thing she would tell us about is the delicious food or beautiful beaches, but to our surprise, there was something that she thought stood out above those luxurious details. What stood out to her the most was every time she and her husband asked for something, the staff responded with “It’s our pleasure.”   This made them feel valued for choosing to invest their time and money into this resort.  It’s our pleasure, conveys a feeling of appreciation.

At CommPartners, we quite often discuss how grateful we are to be involved in the association community, surrounded by an amazing group of people, who we value and feel so fortunate to work with and support.  We know education is a core component for most associations and what we do matters a great deal.

A learning management system is a significant investment, both financially and strategically, that can take months, even years, to make a decision on. Once the decision is made, the client and LMS provider come together to create a unified partnership and shared mindset, determined to fulfill the client’s overall vision.  The onboarding process that follows is a critical time where expectations are confirmed and a foundation for working together is set. This is where “It’s Our Pleasure” comes into play.

Like any first impression, the first moments of the onboarding process are a sign of what to expect down the road. The first thing you notice is the tone of the communication. How professional and courteous is the project manager? Is this person responsive?  Is he or she clear about what to expect, and with follow-up communications. Is this person detail oriented?  These are all critical elements?

Just as important, is if this person has a positive attitude and is enthusiastic about your project?  Do you, as the client, feel appreciated for the decision you have made and the faith you’re imparting on your selected provider? Are you truly in this together?

At CommPartners, we have gone to great lengths to support and empower our onboarding staff who in turn are giving and generous with their time and spirit. They recognize how critical it is that you are welcomed properly to our organization and that we are simply not just saying thank you for your business. Actually, it’s our pleasure to serve you.