The 2018 National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Virtual Forum, Opioid Crisis: No Community is Immune, was live streamed from the NASW national office in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, November 14, and Thursday, November 15, 2018.
Now, before we dive deeper into details about the event itself, did you know that 85% of opioids are used by US citizens? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, every day nearly 200 people in the United States die from overdosing on opioids. The addiction to opioids has become a serious national public health crisis that affects people of all walks of life and is a very real and relevant topic impacting the social work community.
For our clients at NASW, it was critical to reach and engage with their members to discuss how social workers are an integral part of the collaborative multidisciplinary approach in working to respond to the current opioid epidemic.
So you might be thinking, how? How can the largest membership organization of professional social workers, with over 120,000 members nationwide, reach and engage with their community from remote locations? Well, here is where the wonderful world of live streaming and virtual forums came into play for NASW.
We had the opportunity to speak with two key players from the association, Richard Loomis, Conference & Event Planning Manager, and Rafaele Vitelli, Director of Professional and Workplace Development, each weighing in on their virtual conference experience and the relationship that has evolved between NASW and CommPartners.
To start off the conversation, we wanted to get some background information on why the association chose to take the virtual route and how this type of event fit strategically within their organization.
“As an association that is committed to positioning as the premiere source for social work and related health care profession, NASW saw the live streaming of virtual forums and conferences as a key component in providing our community with high quality content while also allowing the association itself to extend its reach and footprint,” said Loomis.
They also spoke on the fact that not only does live streaming allow the association to extend its reach, but it shows the members that they are taking innovative approaches to provide both flexibility and value to their membership. Audiences can tune in from their phone, work, or even their own home office. This provides a great advantage for the members because they are able to save costs on travel and hotel, but still receive the same high quality content as a site based conference.
The virtual forum itself consisted of 4 plenary sessions and 8 breakout sessions where the audience had the opportunity to engage and ask questions through a live chat. In preparation for the event, NASW handled the content side and CommPartners handled the operation and technical side. This was the fourth event that NASW and CommPartners have collaborated on and the relationship continues to grow.
Loomis shared his thoughts on the partnership and how CommPartners contributes to the success of the programs, “The partnership with CommPartners has been phenomenal and in place for a long time. We have worked with the team on multiple events and the company does not fail to deliver. Over the years, we have formed friendships with the colleagues at CommPartners and when you have that relationship and trust in each other it contributes to a successful program.” said Loomis.
To conclude the conversation we touched on a few highlights from the forum, one being the remarks from the President and CEO of Addiction and Policy forum which provided outstanding context to what was being addressed, said Loomis. Overall, both Loomis and Vitelli agreed that putting together a virtual event takes time and effort to ensure success. The association received very positive feedback from the attendees with many requests to continue hosting virtual forums. Loomis said that their members can certainly be expecting two more virtual forums in 2019.
About CommPartners Live Stream Services:
CommPartners helps organizations grow their event attendance and revenue and create highly interactive webcast solutions. We’ve produced thousands of webcasts over the past eight years, from small single camera programs to multiple camera, multiple location productions. What separates CommPartners from other providers is we professionally manage every aspect of the event; we do all of the heavy lifting for you. Our team of experienced event planners manage every detail and our experienced multimedia technicians handle all of the technical details. Our webcast platform offers dual encoding, redundant back-up streams, mobile friendly, and offers attendees active engagement opportunities to help them be an active participant.
Click here to find out more about CommPartners live stream services.
When an organization begins the process of evaluating LMS options, they typically will start by developing a list of features that should be included. Confirming this list helps to identify ideal candidates. While the feature set is critical to narrow an organization’s search process, often an element that is overlooked, at least initially, is the User Experience or “UX”.
The UX as defined in Wikipedia refers to: “A person’s emotions and attitudes about using a particular product, system or service. It includes the practical, experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human–computer interaction and product ownership.”
So much of what we do today is defined by the user experience. An impactful example is the mobile device we interact with hundreds of times a day. UX design also applies to mundane products such as a coffee cup or the toothbrush we use. But how about interacting with an LMS? If we want to ensure that learners have an excellent experience when accessing education opportunities, it’s critical to make sure that every element of our learning management site is attractively designed, intuitive to navigate, is relevant and meaningful.
Here are five recommendations to ensure your Learning Management System fulfills your learners’ expectation of an exceptional user experience:
- Choose an LMS that provides complete control of every aspect of the design.
You have invested in the development of your website to ensure it presents your organization in the best possible way. You most likely do not want to implement an LMS that feels like a separate component. Ideally your learning site will be nimble enough to incorporate your website styling, navigation, layout, imagery, fonts and taxonomy. Having an LMS with visual congruence to your website will eliminate a disconnect of having two separately hosted online components.
- Ensure that your LMS works seamlessly with your ecosystem of applications including your AMS (database) and private online community.
When a learner moves to and from your LMS, does the experience feel disjointed? It is important to provide visual congruence through your entire ecosystem of web platforms so the user experience will be not be compromised. In addition, it is important to integrate with these systems to ensure login credentials are carried through all applications. This will create seamless navigation and enhance the overall experience.
- Establish a style guide to be applied throughout your site.
It’s important to have a set style guide that addresses every design element of your LMS. This applies to both the platform and contents. Choose a platform that provides you design flexibility for all elements. Make sure that your staff or anyone that works with your LMS adheres to your guidelines. It shows when certain elements do not adhere to the standards you have set, therefore compromising the User Experience.
- Create a relevant and simple process for accessing content.
Ideally the LMS experience can be personalized for each learner so when they login in, they are presented content that is relevant to their needs. This can be done in multiple ways. The first is using information you already know about a learner and presenting the right access, pricing and topics. A second way to is to allow the user to set their interests and prioritize the presentation of content based on those interests. Having customized experiences fosters loyalty and return visits to your site. To support simple access of content, avoid scrolling to find programs. Instead, provide the right amount of content per screen.
- Make registration and checkout clean and simple.
Ideally, in a matter of a click or two the learner will be able to register and access their selected program. When they land on the shopping cart page, it should be clean and simple. Once the registration is completed, the learner is seamlessly directed to the content that they register for. When the User Experience is exceptional, the exposure and value of your learning programs is increased. The UX represents you in a highly public way and it’s important to ensure it positions your organization for success.
If you would like more information on UX Design for your LMS or the CommPartners Elevate LMS, give us a call at (800) 274-9390 or fill out our online contact form to get in touch with someone.
Last year was a period of great movement with technology providers within our community. There was an increase in merger and acquisition activity as organizations sought to extend their presence and gain strategic advantages and market share. While some may tout that bigger is always better when it comes to technology, there is a flipside to the equation. Some mergers or acquisitions do in fact work out very well for the customer however there are others that primarily benefit the company.
I began thinking about all the examples of where bigger or well-funded is not better. One service I and many others use on a weekly basis is dry cleaning. Several years ago Zips, the well-funded, national cleaners came up with a new pricing plan where they were going to charge the same low fee for every garment and promise same day service. Hearing this, I left my local cleaners, the one I went to for years, whose name literally is “Cleaners” to try this new concept. After all, Zips had a big presence; they were growing and seemed to offer great value.
After being with Zips for six months, I just recently returned to my local option. Zips always had long lines, they damaged some of my clothes, and the staff changed often. I never got to know them or build trust. In the end, it cost me more and I was treated like a number, not a loyal, valued customer. Returning to “Cleaners” I now get in and out quickly and my clothes are nicely cared for and returned in great condition. Not to mention, I am greeted with the same friendly face each time I return.
So what does dry cleaning have to do with technology? Not much really… except that for associations, trust, understanding, and continuity are significant factors when choosing a strategic partner. The best technology option is the company that allows you to successfully meet your objectives.
When considering a new LMS technology partner, be sure to ask meaningful questions such as:
- What percentage of your budget goes into the development of your software or services vs sales, marketing or distribution to shareholders?
- How would you define your company culture? Will the people I am speaking with today, who are making promises, be here tomorrow?
- What challenges are you currently addressing? How does your solution make my organization better?
- Have you recently been involved in a merger or acquisition? Can you describe how this will affect your current product or service offerings?
We have seen examples when mergers occur, the people you built trust with are gone and the platform or solutions you are invested in are no longer evolving. At CommPartners we have grown organically and with a shared purpose with our staff and extended community. We believe strongly in a culture of responsiveness, centered on the client.
Yes, many mergers or acquisitions, when handled well can greatly benefit the client and simply makes sense. However to say in all cases that bigger is better is just not true. Thank you “Cleaners” for always being there. Sorry I was swayed by bigger is always better.
There are so many AMS offerings available. Most of us know the companies serving the association community. Names like: Abila, Personify, iMIS, Aptify, Association Anywhere and Protech, to list a few. Why is integration with these systems and others so critical to the success of an association’s learning management system (LMS)? After all, AMS integration done well will go completely unnoticed by the end-user. It is, if you will, the “unsung hero” of learning management systems – and this is why we at CommPartners have worked to ensure that our Learning Platform, Elevate, can be integrated with any AMS. Though the benefits of integration are not necessarily seen, they are very much felt. Here are some of the benefits:
Personalization – Cutting Through the Noise
If a learner is signed in with appropriate credentials to your AMS through your website, they are signed into Elevate. AMS integration allows for seamless movement with the proper access and credentials. In Elevate, this means the user will be greeted by name and is provided designated content, pages, rates, and their history; all keyed on their member record.
Relevancy – Building a Unique Experience
Through integration, specific content is presented to a learner based on their member-role, position, location, etc. Integration also allows an admin to display specific pricing based on the user’s role (ex. member v. non-member, student, faculty, seniors). Automatic authentication also provides for an added level of security and privacy – relevant content can be created to display specifically to a user group, or limited to a specific role or status. Additionally, every user has a home dashboard, which allows him/her to easily track their work within Elevate.
Reporting – Made Easy
Finally, AMS integration provides for ease in reporting. Elevate provides 30+ unique reports admins can run to gather data and receive feedback on member and product activity. This information is available through Elevate’s API to be pulled by the AMS.
If you have questions regarding your specific AMS or how it can integrate with our learning management system, Elevate, please reach out to Eve Finstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Eve Finstein, Elevate Project Manager