Perhaps your educational programming is still in the ideation phase. Or maybe you’ve already launched your offerings, and you’ve realized quickly that your association management software (AMS) may be overtaxed by the demands of a growing audience of learners. In this eGuide, we’ll show you how to find the best learning management system (LMS) to optimize the value of your AMS.
It’s simple: without the right companion software, the capabilities of your AMS will be limited and difficult to scale.
With a generic LMS, your association will lose time, money, and human resources attempting to deal with the problems of rapid growth, with no guarantee that your efforts will result in a seamless system that makes your organization more efficient.
It’s essential to have a clear understanding of your association’s learning management system needs, even if you are currently happy with your AMS. That’s because when your educational program grows, so will the administrative and technical burden associated with an influx of new memberships. While you’re probably well aware that growth can be both a blessing and a curse, your new learners will have different needs than members not participating in educational programs. Those needs will only become more complex and broad as your courses increase in popularity. The time to lay the groundwork for sustainable success is now, regardless of where you are along the timeline of your program’s development.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the most important duties your AMS will need to handle and manage a growing educational program:
User Experience Design
Learning Experience Design
Don’t fret if your AMS isn’t up to the job. It wasn’t meant to take over the duties of an enterprise-grade learning management system. Read on to find out what else you’re missing and how to find it.
First, you don’t have to trash your AMS. It is likely that your AMS represents a significant investment of your time and your association’s budget, and you don’t want to give up on it even with faced with a challenge. We’re here to help you meet and exceed your goals. Here’s how to make your AMS earn its keep.
While enterprise-class LMS platforms like EthosCE can easily take on association management tasks, you may still love your AMS. Here’s are some important “Do’s and Dont’s” to get the most out of your AMS investment:
Expect your AMS to perform the tasks of an analytics suite. Manual data collection is risky and error-prone.
Use your AMS data as a reference when using a purpose-built data management system with your LMS.
Assume manual data entry will still be feasible as your program grows. The difference the resources necessary to manage a few dozen students and a few hundred can’t be overemphasized. Manual data entry is resource-intensive and can lead to a productivity drain.
Use an LMS that works seamlessly with your existing AMS to easily import old data and automate user document management.
Overlook usability issues when considering using your AMS as a basis for your educational programming. User experience determines the quality of your learners’ educational experience.
Use an LMS that was created using the latest learning experience (LX) design best practices and which integrates effortlessly with your AMS.
Forget the importance of a user-friendly FAQ and self-service options. One of the most frequently cited reasons that learners leave online courses is poor technical support.
Use an LMS that enhances the value of existing self-help options offered by your AMS by providing task-specific and on-page help for learners.
Rely on a standard email system to keep your learners engaged and on track in their courses. Your members are likely to have more than their share of “friendly reminders” clogging their inboxes: don’t let your communications get lost in spam or banished by a “promotions” filter.
Integrate an LMS that automates critical user engagement tasks such as post assessment messaging and platform inactivity reminders.
So you’re convinced that an LMS will make your life easier, but where do you even start to look? Don’t worry: a single Google search will result in more information than you’ll ever need. You’ll find a barrage of ads and more than 85 million results to comb through. If your association doesn’t plan on spending the next decade reading testimonials and research on the more than 1,000 LMS vendors online, then you’ll need to hone your focus. That means you must determine that compromise isn’t an option. With hundreds of alternatives, why settle? First, a pre-qualifying test:
1. It plays nice with your AMS. The right LMS won’t require you to scrap your existing AMS because it (or rather the company that owns the platform) wants you to purchase a lot of expensive add-on products to get the basic functionality that you need.
2. It isn’t scared of big data as your program grows, you’ll need to venture more deeply into user analytics. For larger enterprises, big data is the guiding force behind strategic management choices and long-term marketing plans: it should be yours as well.
3. It makes educational innovation frictionless. Even if your educational program is in the embryonic stages, you will need to anticipate the arrival of new learners with diverse educational needs. Adding components to your curricula like video, animation, and even games to reinforce challenging concepts shouldn’t require a web designer.
4. It helps you market your association with new members. Your LMS should add tangible value to your existing AMS features. An enterprise-grade LMS should provide features like member polling, automated follow-up emails, and options to create “teaser” courses that allow potential members to get a taste of your educational offerings.
5. It reduces the burden on your admin staff. All of those “little” tasks that have to be done (like payment reminders and updates on charity drive donations) won’t seem so little when they have multiplied hundreds of times over in a week. As your association grows, so will the size of the burden on your AMS. Since you want to do more than stay ahead, look for an LMS that can multitask efficiently, managing admin duties for your AMS and handling core operations for your educational programming.
Did your prospective LMS pass the test? If not, it won’t help your AMS do its job or support rapid program growth.
Many association directors are unaware that their AMS platform may not scale effectively.
More Than Your Bottom Line: Why AMS Efficiency Matters So Much
It’s a question of maintaining relevance.
While the number of associations in America continues to grow, some news organizations are beginning to question if professional associations can maintain their relevance in a world in which the bulk of modern network takes place digitally.
That’s where continuing education comes it. It’s not just a way to stand out in a crowded landscape. It’s a smart strategy to win and maintain the loyalty of existing members while engaging new prospects. A flawless user experience, from registration to course end, is an essential part of keeping your learners coming back to your program. The easiest way to do that is to trust your educational programming to a platform built for exceptional learning experiences. From navigational design to order fulfillment, you want your users to focus on learning, not operational quirks.
As online learning explodes in popularity, your association can become the trusted brand name your members turn to for their educational needs. From launching short teaser courses to viral video marketing, your AMS should empower your organization’s outreach to new potential learners. If it doesn’t (and most AMS platforms weren’t designed to do this), you need to find an enterprise-class LMS that can scale with your organization.
Seven Hallmarks of a Scalable LMS