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.
We sat down with JJ Area, the Education Programs Manager at AILA, to understand their educational programs and how they have developed over the years.
Who is AILA?
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is comprised of more than 15,000 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach immigration law. Our mission is two-fold: to increase the level of knowledge and professionalism of our members and to encourage advocacy before Congress, the Judiciary, the Federal Agencies, and the media, for immigration-related interests. The association was established to promote fair and just immigration policy, advance the quality of immigration law, and enhance the professional development of its members.
Where does education fit into the overall structure at AILA?
All of AILA’s members have to be licensed to practice law in one of the US jurisdictions, and most of the jurisdictions require continuing legal education (CLE) courses. This means we have a built-in audience. Additionally, a large portion of our members are solo practitioners, so they aren’t members of large firms that have a large financial backing. Therefore, anytime we can offer quality education and save them a bit of money, they appreciate it.
One of our strategic goals is to increase the knowledge and professionalism of members so our education program is one of the main ways we accomplish that. We want people to have the most current information available. We offer a podcast feed as a way to disseminate information that we want to get out quickly and at no cost. These tend to be niche topics that we don’t feel our members would necessarily see a big return on investment for, therefore, our podcasts are a way to provide the information without a price point.
Can you describe the evolution of your learning programs?
I’ve been with AILA since 2010, and there have definitely been some ebbs and flows. When we began our distance learning offerings, there was a big rush initially since our members hadn’t seen this from us and found it as an easy, affordable way to earn CLE credit. As time went on, other organizations also began offering CLE courses and the market was saturated; our numbers dipped a bit, so we had to adapt. We have done that in a number of ways.
We started offering live webcasts of some in-person conferences to provide something a little more polished and technologically savvy. Also, rather than listening on the phone you can see somebody there in front of you on your computer and ask questions live, so you have that interaction. This is a new way for people to participate, earn CLEs, and save on travel cost. Plus, we have the recording of the webcast, which we sell and offer to participants to view anything they may have missed.
We heard from our members that they wanted more on-demand content considering their busy and unpredictable schedules. The webcasts and seminar recordings can be done at their own pace and have proven very successful.
How has CommPartners aided in the evolution and growth of your learning programs?
We have worked with CommPartners since 2007. We began with audio seminars, then webinars, and now livestream events. When Elevate was released, we found it a very attractive option, but weren’t sure how to implement it in our organization. At the end of the month we are excited to launch new offerings through Elevate.
Additionally, we’ve found everyone at CommPartners to be responsive, professional and dedicated to ensuring we provide exceptional educational programs to our members. It’s great to see that no matter where someone is in the organization, straight up to Rich, everyone is very professional and great to work with.
What’s next for your education programs?
We saw other associations hosting courses entirely online and we viewed that as the future of learning so we wanted to offer that to our members. At the end of July we will be hosting an online course using Elevate. Ultimately, we want to put together AILA University which will offer micro-learning opportunities for the busy, unpredictable schedules of our members. We want these to be specific, 5 minute videos that can address the questions of our members. These are topics that don’t need to be addressed in a 60 minute webinar, but can be a quick answer so our members can get back to their clients. We are starting this year and hope to keep building upon it and adding a robust curriculum that we can update as needed.
We also eventually want to get into digital badging with these offerings. We see it as an engaging way for our members to advertise their learning track. We see this as an essential element in the future of continuing education, especially with the new generation of lawyers graduating. Our team is always looking into the future and assessing what we need to do to accommodate our members.
To learn more about AILA, please visit: https://www.aila.org/
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.
A year ago we made the decision to host our first User Conference. Since this was our initial event, we had some trepidation about whether our community would embrace the opportunity to join us for several days of education, training and networking. Our decision to move forward was quickly validated as we reached the maximum number of attendees we could accommodate in the venue.
When the first day of the conference arrived, we were excited to see in-person the people we interact with on a daily basis. As I began the initial welcome, I mentioned to the group that this felt more like a social function as opposed to a business event. There was a warm feeling that comes when relationships evolve over time and there is continuity of working with the same team to share opportunities and solve problems. For our team, this conference was an important barometer of where we stand. It’s one thing to have one on one interactions, however it’s an entirely different situation to see many of your clients in one setting. We feel extremely blessed to have had this opportunity.
There are three insights that we walked away with from the event:
Click to view photos from Peak 2018.
- We have a vibrant community that has evolved organically with us over a long period of time. There are no shortcuts in getting to this point. CommPartners has an average employee tenure of 8 years with many staff being with us for 12 to 15 years. At times, we don’t think about how important a factor this is in building close client relationships that lead to greater continuity and trust. You could witness this in real time during the conference.
- Peak served an important purpose of facilitating ideas and proving attendees practical applications they can implement today. One of the greatest benefits was the sharing of best practices and hearing how people in the same position overcome day to day challenges of managing professional development within their organizations. We realized we need to keep this conversation going and not wait until we meet again. Therefore, we launched a number of initiatives to give voice to our clients and allow for ongoing engagement. They include:
- Elevate Advisory Board: This is a 13 member panel group made up of mostly clients to provide guidance and feedback on Elevate’s development, provide feedback on our services and share ideas with other Board members.
- CommPartners Mastermind Groups: These groups bring clients together for 4 sessions to engage around topics of leadership, creative thinking and professional growth.
- CP Connect Community: CP Connect is an online community. It will be launching shortly to continue the conversations and sharing of ideas that occurred at Peak.
- CP Cares: We are expanding our altruistic initiatives to support those in need. We are hoping to involve our clients in these efforts.
- We need to continuously come through for our community. You depend on us. This was evident through the passionate conversations that occurred at the conference. We understand this responsibility. In the coming year we have aggressive plans to bring innovation, additional resources and service enhancements to our clients. We’re excited about growing with you and helping you succeed.
If you have any additional feedback or thoughts about Peak or any other items, please contact me.
All the Best,
CommPartners is excited to announce the launch of an Advisory Board for Elevate Learning Management System. The Elevate Advisory Board is comprised of a variety of end users, staff, and industry partners. Our goal is to effectively share ideas and review valuable insight that can help frame our future organizational initiatives. Through hearing the different experiences and offering a deeper look into admin and user processes, we hope to advance how the system operates for both admin and end user optimization. The Advisory Board will meet every quarter and will serve a one-year term.
We would like to officially welcome the following members to the 2018 Elevate Advisory Board:
Erica Holman, LMSW, LNHA, CDP
Risk Management Consultant
Ahren Hoffman, CTRS, CPE
Director of Education & Training
American Specialty Toy Retailing Association
Pauline Judge, CAP-OM
Manager, Events & Operations
Weatherbee Resources, Inc.
Hospice Compliance Network
American Gear Manufacturers Association
Tara Bishop, CAE
Deputy Chief Executive
National Council of University
Solution Resource, LLC
American Society of Addiction Medicine
Josh Yavelberg, PhD
Online Education Manager
National Recreation and Park Association
Gail Smith, PMP, CTT
Senior Event Manager and Training Lead
Society of Petroleum Engineers
Manager, Member Engagement and
Council on Social Work Education
Holi Jones Kimbrough
Director of Education & Meetings
National Association of Enrolled Agents
Manager, Professional Development
American Academy of Audiology
Membership and Customer Service Coordinator
Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation
National Society of Accountants