Jack McGrath: Hi and welcome back to another in our series Ask the Experts. My name is Jack McGrath and today we’re going to be talking to Bree Sutherland of the Emergency Nurses Association. Welcome Bree.

Bree Sutherland: Thank you Jack.

McGrath: Couple of questions for you. So, how important has eLearning been to ENA’s overall education strategy and what advantages do you think it brings to your members?

Sutherland: Well, online learning has been really important to our educational strategy. Probably the biggest benefit is that you’re able to access your members anytime, anywhere. They’re allowed to stay, you know in our case as they’re nurses, at the bed side. They don’t have to leave their jobs to go take a face-to-face course and it’s something that they can take in their free time, on demand, and it’s easy for them to access. So, we’ve really been able to integrate a lot of online learning in the last twenty-four months and it’s something that our members, now that they’re accustomed to it, it’s really taking off for them. They’re really, really asking for more.

McGrath: Yeah, I would imagine there’s a little bit of a behavior change you’ve got to get used to and then-

Sutherland: Absolutely.

McGrath: -after, they assimilate.

Sutherland: Right.

McGrath: So, as an eLearning administrator yourself, what should organizations look for in a Learning Management System and in their provider?

Sutherland: Well, when selecting a Learning Management System the main thing you want to do is something that allows for a platform that’s easy to access for your members. It needs to be easy to use, there needs to be a component of providing a community for your members so they can interact with one another after they’ve gone and taken an online course. Very often as an online learner you can sort of feel out on your own going through this educational program and it’s great to have a community for them to be able to interact, bounce ideas off of one another, and also important to provide support to the learner on the platform so you’re meeting all of their needs and they continue to, you know, take more courses and become more accustomed to the online environment.

McGrath: Yeah, that’s an important thing.

Sutherland: It is.

McGrath: So important because if you’re there, you’re trapped, you need help if you need it. Another question, what do you think- I know your background is instructional design, and what do you think makes for a really good online course?

Sutherland: Ooh, that’s a great question. I could- How much time do we have? What makes a really good online course, first of all something that’s needed, you’ve determined that there’s a need for it and really making something that’s interactive and something that’s fun. Learning doesn’t have to be so serious. You can make something that’s really engaging, has interactions built into it, knowledge checks, and things that are keeping the learner fully, fully engaged and they will complete the course. The completion rates are much, much higher when it’s something that’s engaging.

McGrath: Yeah, I think that’s probably really interesting to compare, what the retention or the completion rates are on a linear, webinar-style versus a more interactive course.

Sutherland: Right.

McGrath: What advice do you have for associations who are just getting started with eLearning?

Sutherland: Ooh. Well, the first would be to partner with a Learning Management System vendor that is able, has gone through the process before, has been able to take another organization to success, because they’ll really be able to take you through that process and guide you so you’re not on your own going through this brand new experience. It can seem a little bit overwhelming. Also, start small. Once you’ve identified that there’s an educational need, even if the results that you have are small, you have developed a need, start with a small course before you start tackling a large, fifteen module, full curriculum course on a topic. Start with one online course, get your users, your learners, your members more accustomed to online learning and then from there you’ll be able to start to grow and branch out with hiring instructional designers, or outsourcing that, and getting a team to build much larger courses for your organization.

McGrath: That’s probably great advice. Sometimes we’ll hear people say, “Let’s go for a small home run first.”

Sutherland: Right, yeah.

McGrath: And I think then your board can actually see that and see a win and say, “Oh okay, now we’re willing to invest.” So that’s great. So Bree, thanks so much-

Sutherland: Thank you.

McGrath: -for being involved. And thank you and please look for other videos in this series. Thanks very much.