So, You’re Picking an LMS: What to Look for and What’s Next
A learning management system (LMS) can make an enormous difference in the type of continuing education (CE) you offer and how it’s received by your members. The right system can enhance nearly every aspect of your association’s CE, but the sheer number of systems available–not to mention the individual options and features available on each!–can make the whole purchasing process overwhelming.
Don’t worry, though–we’re here to help!
In this article, we’re going to look at what associations really need from an LMS, while also clearing up some of the “unknowns” you may find yourself encountering.
Here are some common questions:
- What should you and your association look for in an LMS?
- What are members looking for from these systems?
- What do you do after you get your LMS?
Below, we’ll answer these questions and highlight what your ideal LMS will include–helping your association get the most out of its continuing education!
A User-Friendly LMS
User-friendliness is one of the most obvious (but also perhaps the most important!) thing to consider when establishing your LMS.
It doesn’t matter how powerful or how complex the system is behind the scenes–it needs to look and operate in a simple, straightforward way on the surface.
Because users possess a variety of technological experience and comfort levels, your system can alienate basic users if it’s too complicated. Besides that, an intuitive LMS and interface don’t mean they lack depth; rather, they’re just cleaner and easier to operate for everyone.
Another aspect of user-friendliness that associations should consider is that of training and operation resources and documentation.
While many LMS vendors offer training resources that come with the system, it is sometimes up to the association to create their own. Ensure that your documentation is as clear as possible and that users can access it easily. For best results, keep this material up-to-date and add a “Frequently Asked Question” section populated with answers to users’ most common queries.
Personalize the Experience
Whether your LMS does it for you or you find a way to accomplish it yourself, personalizing your training in a way that makes each learner feel like it’s been designed specifically for them can make for a very powerful learning experience. While this may sound like it requires a significant time investment, it can actually be accomplished fairly simply!
For example, most systems allow administrators to ensure learners see only the learning content that applies to their specific careers, experiences, and training levels. You can also offer training and certificates that help learners further develop their careers or make a change to their profession.
Allow learners to set their own goals and create a roadmap for them to follow. As they complete their training, they’ll move along the path and will be able to better visualize how close they are to realizing their goals! Now, that’s incentive.
(Mobile)ize Your Training
It probably goes without saying these days, but mobile access is absolutely necessary for modern training courses. Most learning management systems today include mobile-ready and responsive designs, which allow users to access the content from any type of device or screen size, but it’s important for associations to create mobile-friendly content as well. Remember, training should be designed with mobile users in mind!
For instance, training should be offered in small, snackable segments to allow learners to complete their training in short bursts. Few working professionals can set aside hours at a time for study, so small chunks of training allow them to complete and digest mini-lessons.
Additionally, to enhance engagement, mobile-compatible modules should be interactive. Have users complete in-lesson quizzes and knowledge-testing activity games to make the learning process fun.
Furthermore, allow users to connect to and from social media straight from your platform, as the majority of social media use is done via mobile devices. This can help boost your association’s social media status, too!
Learn from the System
Regardless of how good your training is in the beginning, it’s never a good idea to leave it unaltered and unsupported. Some of the most powerful tools provided by an LMS are the tracking and reporting options.
To get your training to its most effective, and to help your learners get the most from their training, use these tools to improve your CE components as much as possible. Get the system to track your learners’ progress and produce reports documenting weak points in your training. Are the majority of users getting hung up on a specific module? This can indicate a problem in the material!
By paying attention to analytics and spot-fixing any issues you encounter, your association will be able to boost your content’s efficacy quickly and easily. Don’t forget to pay attention to modules and courses that are doing especially well, either–you can set them as an example and learn from their popularity!
Basically, your LMS can offer you insight into how your users are interacting with your system: which courses are performing best, and which ones still need a little TLC? Determine what content and learning formats produce the best results, then replicate them.
In general, this process can help associations create highly effective training for their users. The better your content, the more value for your members, the higher the renewal rates!
Make No Mistake: Integrate!
Integration makes life easier for everyone on a platform, as users can seamlessly move between systems without getting lost or confused. An integrated system allows learners to access the association’s entire system–including the main website, the LMS, and the online store–all with a single login.
For administrators, system integration allows for better and easier reporting and transference of data. Learner activities can be shared with other department systems, and information can be accessed from a centralized location without having to move between management systems or transfering data.
Many systems contain built-in integration features, whereas some accommodate it through their customization capabilities. Either way, integration is quickly becoming one of the more important features an LMS can offer.
Keep It Updated
Updates are an essential part of both online learning and an association’s LMS. Content-wise, training needs to stay current and relevant. Industry changes and compliance mandates need to be reflected in your content, and learner feedback should be continually incorporated to ensure your CE offers the most effective training possible.
The system itself also needs to stay updated–in a number of different ways! Your security and privacy controls need to remain current and intact to keep users (and their information) safe and protected.
The way you keep your system up-to-date will vary based on your platform. If you use SaaS (Software as a Service), you’ll get automatic updates. If your platform is custom-built, however, you’ll have to maintain any updates yourself–or else hire someone to do it for you. This can get costly if your platform is especially custom, since anyone fixing your software will have to learn it first!
Any apps or plugins that the LMS uses should be updated as well to keep things operating efficiently. Have you ever left updating your computer or browser a little too long? Things start to get a tad buggy when you do, right? The same goes for apps and plugins, so to keep your system working smoothly, you want to keep everything current.
Finally, different system features and components should be updated regularly. Your association should stay on top of the latest developments in training and incorporate these new additions whenever and wherever necessary. Your members don’t want to waste their time on outdated education, after all!
After you’ve implemented your learning system and posted your training content, the next stage of the training begins: the support stage.
Ensure that your members and learners feel supported in every way. Keep traditional lines of communication (like phone and email) open and accessible. Post and update training materials to assist learners, and make sure these resources are hosted in an easily-found location.
Again, here’s where an association’s social media channels can come in clutch; by maintaining a solid social media presence, you can address issues and concerns as they appear. More and more, people are reaching out to organizations on their Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn feeds when they want a real human answer, so be sure to give them a friendly, helpful, and timely response when they do!
You May Also Like: 5 Things NOT to Leave Out of Your LMS
While choosing and supporting the right learning management system can feel like a daunting task, with the right checklist, it becomes a simple process.
First, it’s important to understand what your association and its members need, and how those needs will be met by your chosen LMS. Your ideal LMS should be user-friendly and offer personalized education options; mobile-responsive, snackable learning modules; and integration capabilities. Once implemented, you should be regularly updating its content and offering members support.
With the right system, you can take your continuing education to the next level. Provide members with an enjoyable, informative experience, and they’ll continue to come to your association for their needs for years to come!