When searching for the right online learning program for your association, you must consider cost, accessibility, and functionality. Learn more about the best way to approach the decision process with this short post.
Dos and don’ts of picking an LMS
If you’re going to leave this blog with one piece of advice, it’s to do —and NOT do — these things.
Keep your users top of mind
Yes, your members will be using your LMS and you’re getting it for them . . . but your staff will be using it too. Your team will be the ones creating the learning streams, uploading content and building courses. They need to report success to you and track member engagement. So pay attention to the member-facing experience, look and feel but also to the back end of how the technical side of the software works.
Pick a software that’ll pay for itself
A good LMS will engage your members and get them learning. A GREAT LMS will do that while also helping you earn some added non-dues revenue. Some top-rated LMS platforms will let you offer paid access to some courses for non-members and provide different levels of access for premium members. There are also sponsorship opportunities for course and advertising efforts as well that can help your software pay for itself.
Take your time
We know you want to provide this benefit to your members quick, but be picky. An LMS is only valuable to your members if they find it enjoyable to use. So do your homework, don’t skip the demos and ask you vendors lots of questions. (We have 5 steps to help you in this process below!)
Feel boxed in on what an LMS can do
Modern learning software can be used for videos, white papers, individual courses, webinars and more. Be creative when you’re planning how to use an LMS and think big.
When looking into a new software for the first time, the new language and use-cases can be overwhelming. Sometimes, we feel so overwhelmed we just nod and try to get through conversations.
We encourage you do to the opposite! Ask questions, say when you don’t understand something and request more than one demo if that’s what it takes for you to understand the software. Software is a big investment and it’s up to you to decide what will work for you. Definitely be picky!
5 things your LMS MUST have
Whatever vendor you end up choosing for your learning management software, these are the 5 things you must absolutely look for.
1. An exceptional user experience for learners and admin (aka, you!)
Your LMS will should make it easy for the learner to quickly navigate to their desired content. All of that content should load quickly, too. Also, make sure your LMS can be designed with your organization’s branding, or similar. You want your learners to be confident that they’re in the right place when they’ve reached your content.
Equally important is the user experience for you, the administrator! A great LMS makes it easy to manage content, learner profiles, certificates, etc. so you can spend more time creating, developing and delivering that great content.
2. A way to track learners’ efforts
Monitoring member engagement, course progression and how every individual interacts with each piece of content can provide a LOTIf continuing education is an important part of your mission and your industry, this is a MUST for your LMS! Look for a solution that allows you to share course outlines, test learners’ knowledge, provide certificates, control permissions on the backend, and, of course, track continuing education units (CEUs).
3. The ability to differentiate between members and non-members
This is key for an LMS solution, for a couple of reasons. For one, separating these two groups means you can offer free content access as a member benefit. More benefits means more member satisfaction, plus another thing to talk to your prospective members about!
That said, offering LMS access as a member benefit also allows you to offer it to non-members for a fee. Hello, new non-dues revenue stream! Managed wisely, an LMS could ultimately pay for itself.
4. Robust content library capabilities
Videos, MP3s, eBooks – oh, my! It’s likely that you have a few different types of resources. Find an LMS that can host everything – even things you may not have experimented with yet so you know you’re all set for future endeavors!
You’ll also want to make sure your entire library can be managed easily and intuitively. After all, that’s why you want to use an LMS in the first place! Being able to create custom content packages, assign content to multiple areas/lessons, and quickly upload content are all things to look for.
5. Superb customer service
As with any software solution, you want an LMS that’s backed by a supportive, knowledgeable, friendly team. When shopping for an LMS, consider asking about how the provider handles onboarding, support, and training needs (if that information isn’t available up front).
Better yet, partner with a company you already know you can trust with Classroom by Personify. Classroom, just like MemberClicks, is a part of the Personify community experience platform.
Existing MemberClicks users can integrate this add-on software to upgrade their member experience. Non-MemberClicks’ users can demo the product as an add-on feature or stand-alone software.
- Integrates with your association management software, including single-sign-on and permission control.
- Is built to be a robust content delivery platform at an affordable price
- Elevates the look and feel of your content with a beautiful member-facing platform
- Is backed by a team of product experts committed to helping you use your LMS to its fullest potential
5 Steps to choosing the best LMS for you
1. Identify what you need
The first step is simple but often overlooked. Before you really start looking into a learning management system, you need to think about what you need from it. Try to define:
- Who you’re educating
- What types of courses you want
- How many courses you want
- If you want learning tracks or individual classes
- What type of lessons you want (video and test-based)
- If you are creating your content from scratch or if they’re pre-built
Who you audience is and what you want to teach them can make a big difference in the type of LMS you choose. From here, you can start to get picky about what you’d require from your AMS.
You can also get crafty in how you can use an LMS in your organization. Member onboarding, staff training, meeting recording and post-event video sharing are all possibilities with this software.
2. Define your requirements
It’s okay to have high expectations of your software. In fact, we encourage it! Here are some things you should consider requiring from your AMS:
- Member learning tracking
- Secure storage of member data
- Creation of certificates and documents
- Online content database
- Building learning paths
- Reporting and data tracking
On top of these technical requirements, you may want to consider some more basic needs, too. Things like:
- A responsive website that can be used by members on all devices
- A software that looks good (member experience is key!)
- Easy sign up and login for members
- A software that connects to your member database for easy reporting
- Easy-to-build and manage tools for your staff
3. Book some demos & date some vendors
Doing a quick google search pulls up a LOT of LMS options. Book a bunch of demos and see some in action to get an idea of what could work for you.
But Google can be overwhelming. We have a full list of some of the best options out there if you want to get started.
When you sign up for an LMS, you aren’t just investing in software. You are beginning a relationship with a software provider. When you’re in your demos, ask questions about the company themselves and how they work with their clients.
We recommend some questions like:
- What does your customer support cycle look like?
- Who will I be able to contact if I have questions?
- What type of support do you offer to learn about this platform?
- What services do you have to help me grow after I purchase your software?
Too often, software companies say all the right things to get you to buy and then leave you alone to figure it out. We believe you should expect more from your vendor.
4. Make a short list
After your demos and questions, you should have a short list of 2 or 3 LMS options that you believe will work for you. Make comparisons. Book follow up calls with your top choices. And be honest with yourself about what platform will work best for your organization.
At this point, it’s a great idea to ask for current clients from each company that you can speak to. That way, you can ask other organizations how the software works for them! This type of insight is super valuable when making a final selection.
By this point, you should be confident in choosing an LMS provider. Get excited!! Now that you have your software chosen, you can get ready to add new value to your organization and give your members a whole new experience.
Choosing the best LMS for you
While we can’t tell you exactly what the best LMS is, hopefully these tips help you feel confident that you can choose the best one for you. Now, we do have a short list of the best LMS options out there to get you started.