The last decade has seen a profound increase in the demand for online learning resources. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations to provide more virtual education, many professionals were turning away from in-person courses in favor of more convenient channels. As continuing education becomes even more important within many industries, having the ability to deliver content in a variety of forms is critical for maintaining engagement with potential learners. That’s why every successful professional development strategy needs to begin with implementing the right learning management system (LMS).

Making a good LMS first impression

When an organization launches a continuing education program, the last thing it wants to see is potential learners struggling to use the platform. When prospective learners can’t intuitively navigate the interface or find the resources they’re looking for, they’re far more likely to give up and look elsewhere for their professional development needs. Losing out on providing continuing education means that organizations will struggle to engage with learners in other ways as well. This is particularly troublesome for professional associations because members may begin to question whether it makes sense for them to renew their membership.

Making a good LMS first impression increases the likelihood that learners will keep coming back for additional professional development and guidance. Much like a website experience, however, there’s often only one chance to make that impression. Organizations often make the mistake of implementing a solution that’s far too complex for their learners’ needs rather than focusing on the core features necessary to deliver an outstanding learning experience.

Essential features for your first LMS

When selecting an LMS platform, it’s important to focus on the capabilities that match learning needs and the capacity to deliver content. A small professional association, for instance, could make a huge investment in a robust learning system that provides extensive course creation tools and testing capabilities, but if they don’t have the instructional design resources to build out those offerings, those features will likely go unused. Similarly, if learners are primarily looking for webinar and webcast resources, asking them to navigate a complex LMS interface to find that content may create a frustrating user experience.

Here are a few key features to look for in a first LMS platform:

Video streaming and hosting

Today’s learners are increasingly turning to video for their professional development. This is especially true of association members looking to meet their continuing education requirements. The ability to organize and deliver both live and prerecorded webinars and webcasts through a streamlined, browser-based interface should be a baseline feature for any LMS platform.

Interactive video tools

Most continuing education guidelines stipulate that a certain portion of coursework must be interactive or in-person. Fortunately, video-based courses can usually satisfy these requirements if they feature live, interactive elements like Q&As, chats, surveys, real-time polling, or checkpoints. This allows rebroadcasts of previously recorded live video courses to qualify for continuing education credits. An LMS system that provides these engagement tools makes it easy for organizations to deliver a variety of professional development content.

Customization

Just because an organization is implementing its first LMS doesn’t mean it should have to sacrifice flexibility. Customization features that allow them to incorporate distinctive branding, promote sponsorships, and adjust the user interface to achieve the right look and feel are essential for creating a cohesive learning experience.

Credit tracking

Learners want the ability to easily track their course credits so they can easily satisfy their continuing education requirements. An LMS platform that allows them to quickly submit for credit and receive custom certificates for their records is much more appealing than one that forces them to go through a complex submission process to receive credit.

AMS/CRM integration

An LMS platform that integrates with leading AMS and CRM solutions makes it much easier for organizations to manage customer and member data. In addition to tracking engagement over time, they can also use that data to build comprehensive learner profiles for future marketing and course content strategies.

Content administration

Creating content that learners want to engage with is only part of the challenge facing organizations. If they don’t have LMS tools in place to easily manage that content and repurpose it effectively, they could be missing out on significant opportunities to engage learners year-round.

Going beyond LMS first impressions

The ultimate goal of implementing any continuing education software is to encourage learners to keep coming back over time. While an LMS first impression plays a huge role in this, it’s also important to provide a flexible, streamlined user experience that makes it easy for learners to engage with content and meet their professional development needs.

Freestone is an online learning platform that was designed for the specific needs of associations that deliver high volumes of live and prerecorded video content. Whether an organization is leveraging webinars, webcasts, or on-demand courses, Freestone provides an intuitive, user-friendly experience that makes it easy to both present and participate in events. Featuring a variety of interactive tools that help online courses meet live learning requirements, this customizable solution not only makes a powerful LMS first impression, but also provides a seamless administrative experience for organizations seeking to build content offerings and identifying potential revenue opportunities.

To learn more about how Freestone delivers a powerful learning experience that meets the needs of both presenters and participants, contact us today for a guided demo of the platform.

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