The rapid growth of technology and internet capabilities over the last two decades has allowed associations to deploy a variety of eLearning certification programs to facilitate professional development. No longer dependent upon expensive and time-consuming in-person learning programs, they are now reaching more members than ever with powerful learning management systems (LMS). Learners can access these platforms from anywhere through a web browser to obtain the valuable training they need to take the next step in their professional journey. For that reason, building a sustainable and impactful eLearning certification program should be a top priority for every association.
Why eLearning Certification Programs Are Important
One of the best ways for associations to support their members is to provide industry-specific certification and credentialing eLearning courses. In fact, according to a recent survey by Community Brands, 62 percent of association members identified these programs as an important membership benefit. That’s because online certifications are the primary source of education and training for many members. In many cases, people join an association or renew their membership specifically to gain access to these courses.
Completing an eLearning certification program helps these members acquire new skills that can improve their career opportunities. In some industries, continuing education is also required in order to comply with state and federal guidelines. Legal professionals, for instance, must complete a certain amount of continuing legal education (CLE) coursework every few years or face significant fines. With pandemic conditions making it more difficult to attend in-person learning sessions, eLearning certification programs are becoming more valuable than ever when it comes to meeting these requirements.
For associations, the increased demand for online courses also represents a potential source of revenue. Rather than raising membership dues and running the risk of people opting not to renew, they can offer additional eLearning options to those who need them for a modest fee. While the majority of these educational services should be reserved for members, associations can also make some certifications available to non-members to generate easy revenue and potentially encourage them to become due-paying members.
5 Essential Features of an eLearning Certification Program
Developing and promoting a successful eLearning certification program requires a fully featured learning management system (LMS) capable of delivering engaging course content. There are a few important features that every LMS platform should provide to associations and their members.
- Engagement Tracking
One of the early concerns of eLearning was the worry that course participants would simply start an on-demand video class, ignore the course completely, and then get credit for the class after it ended. Fortunately, instructional design specialists solved this problem long ago by implementing a variety of tools for measuring and tracking engagement. By deploying interactive features that require participants to perform tasks or provide feedback throughout the course, LMS platforms can ensure that learners are engaging with eLearning materials as intended.
- AMS Integration
Integrating an eLearning certification program into an existing association management system (AMS) makes it far easier to track learning progress and award certifications when courses are completed. Rather than relying on manual processes to transfer data from the LMS to update member details, associations can instead use automation to improve efficiency and accuracy. The integration also creates a better user experience for learners, allowing them to easily transition between various association resources without having to switch between multiple programs.
- Event Capture Capabilities
Interactive webinars and livestreams leverage both audiovisual and demonstration eLearning methods, both of which feature much higher retention rates than pure lecture or reading coursework. Dynamic LMS platforms make it easy to set up and deliver live video content to learners without requiring associations to invest in additional audiovisual software. Adding Q&A functionality to live courses introduces a discussion element that can further increase learning retention.
Of course, after live events are completed, they can then be converted into on-demand course content and incorporated into a branded course catalog or learning library. This allows associations to easily curate educational content as part of an ever-evolving eLearning certification program without having to rely on external services or vendors.
- Content Creation Services
Building effective eLearning content can be a major challenge for associations, especially when they need to comply with strict guidelines for professional certifications. In some cases, they need to convert existing educational content into an industry-standard SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) format to create an online course. Associations can get better results, however, by leveraging an LMS platform’s content expertise to build courses in close consultation with subject matter experts (SMEs). This allows eLearning certification programs to offer highly professional and engaging educational content that can be adapted over time to accommodate changing industry requirements.
- Responsive Mobile Support
Today’s asynchronous learners want to be able to access course materials on-demand so they can better fit continuing education into their busy schedules. In many cases, they will be accessing eLearning content from their mobile devices rather than sitting in front of a computer. That’s why eLearning certification programs need responsive LMS software capable of adapting to mobile screens without compromising user experience. Considering that almost three quarters of internet users are expected to be accessing online services solely using their smartphones by 2025, adding dynamic mobile support is vital for continued eLearning growth.
Creating an eLearning Certification Program with Freestone LMS
The innovative Freestone LMS specializes in delivering video-based eLearning content for both live and on-demand courses, which makes it an ideal solution for certification programs that require high engagement from learners. Building dynamic, interactive sessions is easy thanks to its built-in interactivity and administrative tools. The Freestone Content Creation Services team can work directly with associations and SME presenters to create a truly comprehensive eLearning curriculum that meets the professional development needs of members.
As part of its AMS integration features, Freestone makes it easy to manage learning certifications as coursework is completed. Associates can set up interactive engagement trackers to ensure that learners are giving content their full attention throughout the course. They can also require test questions to be completed to assess how well viewers absorbed the material. After meeting whatever engagement requirements have been set, members can easily submit the results to receive their certification of completion. Thanks to Freestone’s AMS integration capabilities, those certifications can be credited to member profile’s instantly to keep their professional information up-to-date.
To learn more about how Freestone can enhance your association’s eLearning certification program, visit our resource center or contact one of our eLearning specialists for a guided demo of our LMS features.