Getting Started with Online Member Education

Way back when I was just a marketing minion working in development at a nonprofit, I used to attend workshops and classes that would help me learn more about my industry. Although I didn’t  join the associations that put these things on, I voraciously ate up the content they were offering, as often as my employer would allow me to attend.

I have since moved on, from marketing minion to marketing maven, but have never forgotten the associations that taught me a thing or two. Yet, how much more could I have learned if I didn’t have to drive across town to take the course? I often lament that “if only I’d had more time and access to the tools that would have helped, I could have made a bigger difference.” In short, associations, I was your target audience. I needed your courses, and attended what I could, but if I’d had access to those courses on my time, my employer would have paid for them. I might even have joined if I didn’t have to take so much time out of my day to get to the association in question and then get back to work within the same day. Can you imagine how many other people felt like me, and how much non-dues revenue was lost because other people couldn’t spare the time? Maybe it’s time to get started with online member education.

Where Do I Start?

Start compiling a list of questions:

  • What do I need?
  • Will I need an LMS?
  • How about content?
  • Will I adapt existing content?
  • Will I need a tool to do that?
  • How many members do we have?
  • Do they take courses often?
  • Do they need continuing education credits?
  • Are we large enough to support online learning?
  • How much will it cost?
  • What will the ROI be?

These will be some of the questions you’ll need to answer to convince your board that online learning is a smart choice for your association. To answer the ROI question, use an ROI calculator. Try different scenarios and see if online learning is right for your association.

I Want to Offer Online Learning. What’s Next?

Next, you’ll need to present your ideas to the board. Contact a few Learning Management System (LMS) providers to determine which ones offer the features your association needs. Submit a Request for Proposal (RFP) outlining your association’s goals and needs. Have the finalists provide you with a demo and, if possible, a free trial so that you can answer the board’s questions about the platform with confidence. Will their LMS integrate with your AMS? Will you need a separate content authoring tool? Remember, when approaching the board, your goal is to offer solutions. What’s your association’s biggest issue: revenue, engagement, marketing? How are you going to solve those problems with online learning? Communicate solutions and ROI.

The Board is On Board. Now What?

Assuming you’ve chosen a few LMS providers to consider, you can now choose the provider that’s right for you. There are many aspects of your new overall learning program that will need to be managed and implemented.These include administrative tasks like deciding how to organize the program, choosing the objectives and strategy, and determining success criteria. In terms of content, your association will need to create a curriculum and use training goals and competencies to decide what courses to offer. The education director will probably need to address technical planning and develop a deployment strategy. You will also need to determine your target audience, figure out how to raise awareness and market your new learning opportunities, and eventually launch the program.  Choose an LMS that allows for branding and marketing integration with your AMS for the smoothest transition into eLearning. It is critical to have your vendor’s support in the implementation of your learning program. Make sure they offer some assistance and training to help you implement your new program effectively.

Getting started with online member education can provide many benefits for your association, including providing a source of non-dues revenue. Best of all, you will not only be transforming learning, but possibly changing the lives of your learners. Of course, the ROI doesn’t hurt either.

For more great information, check out our resources page. 

Ready to start offering members access to courses online? Check out our LMS for associations.

Ready to find out what Digitec can do for you?

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