Put yourself in your members’ shoes for a second.

There’s been a new development in your industry—and an exciting one, at that. Good thing the professional association you’re a member of has sent you an email announcing a course on these new developments. It’s the professional development opportunity you’ve been waiting for, so you sign up!

From here, the scenario plays out in one of two ways:

  1. You take the course. The value is clear, it’s educational, and you’re interested in the material from start to finish. Afterward, you dive into your association’s LMS to find the next course that fits your fancy.
  2. You take the course. It’s boring, rambling, and hard to see how it benefits you in the long run. You close out the course before finishing it and don’t look back—certainly not looking for additional ones to purchase.

Now, put your association professional hat back on. Clearly, you want members to have the former experience—after all, happy members lead to a positive reputation for your organization, increased non-dues revenue, increased recruitment, and improved retention rates.But what can you do to create e-learning courses and a program that sends members down route number one? Let’s explore a few tips.

Tip #1: Focus on subjects that are genuinely useful for members.

Imagine this:

You’re sitting in a conference hall, listening to a keynote speaker during the most-anticipated presentation of the event. They start off with a quick anecdote about their personal experiences… and take 30 minutes to tie it back to the main topic. It may be funny, sure, but is it the best use of your time? Maybe not.

For your association, e-learning is a non-dues revenue generator. You want to increase participation as much as possible. But, you’re not going to have high participation if your courses are the equivalent of a rambling keynote speaker, burying all of the useful information in fluff.

The solution? Build your content around what your members would find the most useful, such as:

  • Core certifications and licensure. If there’s anything your members need to complete to continue legally practicing in their field, start there. Examples include compliance training and healthcare licensing.
  • Navigating changes in your industry. Many workplaces are navigating a permanent shift to work from home, while others look to place a greater emphasis on diversity and transparency. Create content that empowers your members to adapt to change and supports them throughout the process.
  • General professional development topics. Everyone can benefit from a refresher in assertive communication and meeting etiquette.

No matter what, focus on creating content that empowers your members to do their jobs better.

Tip #2: Create courses that are engaging and educational.

Throwing it back to our keynote speaker example, imagine now that you’re attending a highly technical session. Each second is value-packed—as in, every sentence is crucial for understanding the topic at hand. However, the material is dense and perhaps challenging to keep up with, causing listeners to drift off.

You want to avoid this in your courses as well. E-learning courses shouldn’t only be valuable from a professional development standpoint but also interesting for the learners completing them.

Consider the following tips to keep your members’ attentions from start to finish:

  • Create realistic and relatable content. What do your learners’ day-to-day work environments look like? Are they in the field? In an expansive high-rise? In a home office, with a lawnmower across the street? Create content that aligns with their day-to-day environment and the people they’re encountering, making it easy to see how the concepts tie into their efforts each day.
  • Use microlearning to highlight core skills. If the past year taught us anything, it’s that nothing can slow down the busy schedules of a modern professional. If your members are struggling to pencil in time for an e-learning course, try offering microlearning courses to highlight the most important key concepts. These courses are hyper-focused on one specific topic and are often under 10 minutes long, so they’re value-packed and easy to fit into a busy calendar.
  • Include elements that force a learner to engage with the content. It’s easy to zone out when you’re staring at a computer screen. Use elements that force your members to play an active role in their own learning, whether it’s audio review, sliders and dials, labeling and sorting, or something else. This will not only keep their attention on the topic but also make it more interesting to learn.

These tips will help you create content that’s clearly applicable for the learner, cognizant of their time constraints, and enjoyable to complete. But, the success of your e-learning program isn’t dependent on your courses alone. In our next tip, let’s explore the role your tech plays.

Tip #3: Make sure your tech platforms are optimized for e-learning.

Have you ever participated in a group project and been the only person that did any work? Sure, you turned in the assignment. But, it was a grueling crawl across the finish line and you probably didn’t achieve the highest grade that you could have.

Don’t make your course content carry the entire weight of the success of your association’s learning program. Your association’s technology needs to step up and play a co-leading role!

Here are a few tips to configure your association’s tech to create a nice home for your e-learning programming:

  • Invest in an LMS that integrates with your AMS. If your learning management system and association management system aren’t working in sync, you’re leaving a whopping amount of data on the table that can help you understand the effectiveness of your courses.
  • Create a multichannel marketing strategy. Market your new e-learning courses across your association’s website, email newsletter, social networks, and even by word of mouth. 
  • Work with an e-learning content development expert. This partner brings instructional design and e-learning best practices expertise to create engaging content for your members. Plus, they’ll make sure the courses are compatible with your LMS and delivered to the platform.

Your courses are the star of the show. But, these tech tips will create a foundation for your courses to stand on—after all, it doesn’t matter how great your e-learning content is if members aren’t able to access it. 

Wrapping Up

With these three tips, you’ll create e-learning content that’s valuable for learners, engaging, and effective from a tech standpoint. Your learners will find a course, complete it and come back for more. Good luck!