An association learning management system (LMS) is an excellent way for members to learn and grow as professionals by taking continuing education courses. When your LMS integrates with your association management software (AMS), your association will be able to maintain accurate records of your members’ continuing education and better facilitate their learning.
Offering continuing education opportunities makes your organization more engaging to your members and encourages participation in all that your association has to offer. Today, we’re taking a look at how your association—and its members—can make the most out of an integrated LMS and AMS.
We’ll show you how your association can:
- Choose an LMS that allows you to be the center of learning for members.
- Help your members display their achievements in their member profiles.
- Provide social learning opportunities for your members.
- Recommend more courses for your members through your AMS.
- Keep your members updated on additional learning opportunities.
Providing the best possible learning opportunities for your association’s members begins with selecting the right LMS. Choose a highly configurable software system that can satisfy your members’ unique learning needs.
1. Choose an LMS that allows you to be the center of learning for members.
Your association should aim to provide your members with courses and materials that are tailored to meet their specific professional needs. Select an LMS that allows you to be the center of learning by tracking all of their continuing education, even if they take it outside of your association.
It’s likely that your members are already using your AMS to connect with other members, register for your events, and find new ways of engaging with your association. Your next goal is to be seen as the provider for their lifelong education. When your AMS and LMS are integrated, your members will have a lifelong view of their continuing education (CE). They’ll also be able to track their CE with features such as:
- Self-reported learning. Make sure that your LMS allows your members to self-report any education and CE earned outside of your systems. By offering them this feature, they will look to you as their main source for their CE information and tracking.
- Migration of existing continuing education earned. If you’re transitioning from one LMS to another, you’ll want to make sure you can migrate your member’s existing transcript records (credit earned at a minimum) into the new system.
- Lifelong transcript. A transcript that tracks all of your member’s education is invaluable for professionals to report their CE to their respective board and/or employer. Typically a three-year history is required for tracking CE.
The right association LMS can transform your members’ experience with continuing education and encourage them to participate in more of the activities and opportunities that your association has to offer, both online and in person. If you’re thinking about selecting or upgrading your LMS, you can check out Web Courseworks’ guide to association LMS features.
Once you’ve found an LMS with all the right features for your association, you can integrate the system with your AMS so that members can showcase their achievements in their courses on their member profiles.
2. Help your members display their achievements in their member profiles.
Your members’ profiles within your AMS are important locations for making valuable professional connections, as they often contain information indicating each member’s levels of certification and areas of expertise. When your AMS and LMS are integrated, your members will be able to show the courses they have completed on their member profiles.
Make sure that your association management software provides a positive user experience by allowing members to indicate their achievements on their profiles with badges or other representations. This way, other members can gain insight into their colleagues’ certifications and specialties. They may even be encouraged to participate in continuing education courses themselves!
Member profiles that contain information derived from your LMS are just as helpful to your association’s team as they are to your members. Automatically updated member profiles help you clean up your data in your AMS and better understand your members’ current goals and interests, as well as:
- Their certifications. In certain fields such as healthcare, course completions are accompanied by certifications necessary for professional advancement. For association members in these fields, having their certifications displayed on their member profiles is highly important to their professional standing.
- Their course completions. Knowing which courses your members have completed in the past helps your association create the courses they’ll want the most in the future, as well as recommend to different members the right courses based on their demonstrated interests.
- Their goals. Your members will likely complete courses in the areas of their fields where they would like to develop new or stronger skills. This indication of their goals can help your association plan the right events for your members and facilitate the most helpful professional connections among them.
In addition to using your association’s LMS and AMS to provide your members with opportunities for individual professional development, you can also use your software systems to bring them together in person and online for social learning opportunities.
3. Provide social learning opportunities for your members.
Social learning provides your members with opportunities to learn from one another by gaining new perspectives on the materials contained within their courses. This way, members can benefit from their colleagues’ varying areas of expertise. Use your integrated LMS and AMS to make the most of social learning opportunities for your association’s members.
Social learning can take place online or in person. Whichever approach your association chooses to take, you’ll be keeping your members engaged in the learning process and appealing to their different learning styles. With the help of your software systems, you’ll be able to offer them social learning opportunities in the forms of:
- Discussion boards. Relatively simple yet highly effective, discussion boards within the courses offered through your LMS allow members to offer their individual questions and viewpoints about the course material. This keeps them more engaged with the content.
- Live chats. Opportunities for live chats with other members in a course provide your online learners with one of the most valuable components of classroom learning. Discussing the material helps learners explore it from different angles and increases retention.
- Live learning events. Look for an LMS that allows you to host live learning events for members within the same geographic region. You’ll want to make sure that you can transform any materials used in the live event into online resources for members accessing the course remotely.
Integrating your AMS and LMS is especially important when it comes to conferences and other live events. When your systems are integrated, members will have more convenient options for registration. You’ll also be able to use the eCommerce features of your AMS to offer attendees customized event merchandise designed on a platform like Bonfire, which can help fundraise for your association.
Event tickets and merchandise aren’t the only items you can offer your members through your AMS. With integrated software systems, you’ll also be able to offer them more courses based on those they’ve already completed.
4. Recommend more courses for your members through your AMS.
Your AMS—and especially your members’ profiles—provides your association with comprehensive information on your learners’ professional achievements and goals. Your association can use this information in your AMS to offer individualized recommendations for courses via your LMS.
With the help of your association’s member database, you can further your members’ professional development by offering them the right continuing education courses. These recommendations can be based on:
- Their past course completion. It’s likely that your members will want to develop or improve a skill set through a series of related courses. Recommendations based on individual members’ past course completions within your LMS are some of the most appreciated and effective.
- Their peers’ course completions. As professional expectations in various fields shift to meet new needs, certain courses are likely to become popular among your association’s members. These can be highly effective recommendations as well.
- Their professional sectors. If your association has members in a wider range of professional sectors and subsectors, you’ll likely use your software systems to recommend very different courses to different members.
Personalized course recommendations can help your association re-engage lapsed members and encourage your most active members to participate in more of your association’s offerings. For all of your members, it’s important that you use all of your software—your AMS and LMS as well as your association’s website—to keep your members updated on all of the opportunities available to them.
5. Keep your members updated on additional learning opportunities.
Your members value the insights and opportunities that come with being a part of your association and want to learn as much as possible from their experience. Whenever you add new course offerings to your LMS or develop more ways for your members to learn and grow, make sure that you share these opportunities through your AMS and association website.
Helping your members learn more and reach their professional goals is an important component of your association’s brand and story, so you’ll want to place learning opportunities front and center on all of the platforms that you use to communicate with your members. These include:
- Communications sent via your AMS. Offering courses that your members are sure to be interested in? Select an AMS that allows you to send out automated communication about the new offerings to all of your members. You can also segment your member database and send the communication to the appropriate groups of members.
- Committees and regional groups within your AMS. Some opportunities, especially live learning events that take place within specific regions, may be of special interest to regional chapters of your association or other member-run subgroups. Make sure that these groups are aware of the learning opportunities available to them.
- Your association’s website. Members should be able to visit your association’s website to learn more about the opportunities you provide for their professional development, including in the form of on-demand course offerings. This can encourage current members to register for courses and potential members to join your association.
When your software systems work together to help your association create and distribute valuable learning materials, your members are sure to benefit from the opportunities that you provide. Integrated systems make it easy to expand and share your offerings, facilitating your members’ professional development.
If your association is already using an AMS to manage your members, an LMS to create and offer continuing education courses, or both of these software systems, integrating them can better facilitate your members’ learning. Choose comprehensive systems that make it easy to provide your members with the materials they need to learn and succeed in their specific fields.
Amber Bovenmyer is the Director of Sales & Marketing at Web Courseworks. She’s committed to helping association executives realize the potential of their education programs and turn them into high performing revenue generators. Amber was named one of Madison, Wisconsin’s 40 under 40 and the number 1 LMS salesperson by Talented Learning.