Before an association can provide a continuing education program to its members, it needs to implement a learning management system (LMS) that’s capable of delivering an engaging learning experience. If that experience doesn’t meet the expectations of learners, it could seriously undermine the program’s effectiveness and even cause members to question the overall value they’re getting from the association.
Are Your Members Learning or Leaving?
One of the best ways to evaluate an LMS platform is to look at how consistently learners are beginning and completing courses. If a handful of classes are performing poorly, that could simply be an indication that their content isn’t where it needs to be. However, when a large percentage of courses aren’t being completed and learners are not starting additional courses, the problem likely goes much deeper and could indicate an issue with the overall learning experience.
If learners have difficulty navigating course contents, they will frequently quit and try to satisfy their education needs elsewhere. With so many options available to them, they can typically afford to walk away from software they find frustrating or unhelpful. Once those learners are gone, they’re not likely to come back again unless they’re forced to for some certification requirement they can’t satisfy elsewhere.
Relying on exclusive trainings alone is no way to build a thriving learning program for an association. Members may log in to complete those courses when they have to, but they won’t have any interest in sticking around or taking additional courses if the learning experience is poor. Even worse, they’re less likely to recommend those courses to non-members, closing off a potentially lucrative source of non-dues revenue.
4 Questions to Ask When Evaluating an LMS Learning Experience
When associations are looking to implement a learning solution, they need to put a lot of thought into what kind of experience they want to provide to their members. If they’re hoping to create a scalable learning program that encourages learners to return, there are a few important questions they should ask about their continuing education tools.
Does It Prioritize Usability?
It’s important to emphasize usability when thinking about the elements that go into a quality learning experience. The Nielsen Norman Group, one of the world’s leading user experience (UX) researchers, defines “usability” by five essential components:
- Learnability: Can users perform basic tasks the first time they encounter the interface?
- Efficiency: How quickly can users carry out tasks once they’re familiar with the interface?
- Memorability: After being away from the interface for a period of time, how quickly can users reacclimate themselves to it?
- Errors: How many mistakes do users make and what is the severity of the errors?
- Satisfaction: How much do users feel about using the interface?
If an LMS falls short in any of these areas, it will struggle to consistently create a good learning experience. While content quality is incredibly important for a learning program’s success, even the very best content will be wasted if it’s trapped behind an unintuitive, inaccessible user interface that turns learners away in droves.
Does It Engage Learners?
Building a learning program that simply delivers large quantities of content is easy. Delivering content in a way that holds a learner’s interest and encourages them to actively engage with the material is much more challenging. Good instructional design tools can promote higher levels of engagement even for prerecorded, on-demand video content. Progress bars, checkpoints, chats, and polls are all effective ways of holding a learner’s attention as they work through courses.
Associations should also make sure that they’re able to curate their content to create clear learning pathways that guide learners to material that’s most likely to benefit their development. Members are more likely to consume related content if it’s more readily available to them. This is essential for building a learning program that consistently generates revenue.
Is It Device Responsive?
The days of people sitting down in front of a desktop computer to complete their online learning requirements are long gone. Today’s learners need a platform they can access on their own terms and according to their own schedules. If an LMS isn’t responsive to multiple device types and screen sizes, the learning experience will suffer significantly.
While the learning platform doesn’t need to be specifically designed for mobile devices, it should be able to accommodate them to provide the same functionality and basic experience. Course materials should not be limited to certain devices as this will quickly result in frustration. When evaluating an LMS or building a course, it’s important to test it on every platform to ensure consistency.
Is It Overwhelming?
One of the hallmarks of good instructional design is organization and clarity of purpose. Learners should be able to quickly identify what action they need to take next and what idea they should be taking away from each lesson. For an LMS, the interface should not contain so much information or provide so many options that the user becomes overwhelmed or confused about what steps they should be taking at any given time.
The same approach should be taken to designing courses. While there is often a temptation to pack as much information as possible into a lesson, learners will have a harder time engaging with content that isn’t focused on key points and takeaways. A good LMS should be able to support a variety of learning paths that help ease learners into material and guide them seamlessly from one course to the next.
Create a Better Learning Experience with Freestone
Implementing a learning strategy that involves video content takes more than just finding a platform to host course content. In order to build a truly engaging learning experience, associations need LMS tools that promote interaction and track the progress members are making toward their professional development goals.
Freestone LMS is an accessible, web-based solution that easily connects learners to live webcasts and prerecorded, on-demand video content. For live broadcasts, presenters can use polls, Q&As, and checkpoints to encourage viewers to engage with one another and with the learning material itself. Recorded videos can then be repurposed as on-demand content, complete with checkpoints and assessments that satisfy certification requirements. Freestone’s simple, intuitive design makes it easy for learners to chart the next steps in their learning journey and allows associations to build curated learning pathways that meet the unique development needs of their members.
For a first-hand look at how Freestone is creating a better learning experience for association members, talk to one of our continuing education experts today and schedule a free demo.