In yesterday’s post, I had the opportunity to dig into the first five ingredients of a winning learning management system (LMS) recipe. Today, I’ll share the eight remaining elements to ensure your association has sweet success with its continuing education programs. 

  1. CE Management: Providing learners with an easy way to report and claim credits is paramount. At a basic level, CE management should include the ability to assign CE credits for course completion, but it can get complicated in a hurry. Many CE LMSs let organizations define credit types (CLE, CME, etc.) and rules (1 hour = 1 CEU), assign multiple credit types to a course, and dynamically assign credit, based on a learner’s license type, location, or other demographic data. More sophisticated capabilities let learners upload completed content from third-party CE providers, centralize CEU management, and automate status reporting to accreditation bodies.
  1. Integration: The CE LMS is part of an ecosystem of related applications – association management system (AMS), ecommerce, content development, website, marketing automation, email platform, social, customer support, and more – that must work together as one. Sometimes the LMS provides all the capabilities, but most often, multiple third-party, best-in-class, non-training applications are expected to operate seamlessly. Many integrations are now automated – provided as LMS features – including data sharing with applications like netFORUM, iMIS, Salesforce, Zoom, WebEx, Shopify, Marketo, Freshbooks, WordPress, Twitter, ZenDesk, and more. 
  1. Usage-Based License: CE content sellers should always license an LMS based on actual usage or unlimited usage – not on a concept of “named users” (a model typically found with LMS solutions in corporate or academic settings). Usage license fees are based on log-ins, content registrations, purchases, or content completions, which more closely fit a CE business model.
  1. Mobile Content: No longer optional, the ability to deliver all content via mobile devices is now a critical requirement. Many CE LMSs provide mobile “responsive” design for the learner interface and sometimes for administration. However, we increasingly see custom mobile apps delivering highly personalized, premium learning experiences. 
  1. Globalization: S.-based associations and other CE providers are striving to extend their brands globally. It’s too expensive to try organically, but very possible and affordable with a CE LMS designed for global delivery. Features include language localizations, global commerce, taxation, and enhanced security, as well as options for local deployment and multi-language content management and administration. 
  1. Content Creation Management: CE LMSs have strong content creation and management tools. You’ll want the ability to upload and manage disparate pieces of digital content and assemble them into training plans and paths. Progressive CE platform providers are migrating to a quasi-website/course concept, where the content assumes a modern web feel and is easy to edit, but all the tracking and reporting you expect from an LMS is also there in force. 
  1. Test Creation and Prep: When people prepare for the SAT, MCAT, LSAT, or any other certification or examination, they buy test preparation from associations and other CE providers who guarantee that their programs will lead to a passing score. If you are in this camp, you’ll want a system that includes the ability to create question banks tied to skill, competency or topic, and serve questions randomly and strategically to learners as practice exams and simulated exam environments. 
  1. Video: One of today’s hottest learning trends involves delivery of short, relevant video “bursts” at the moment a learner needs information or learning reinforcement. Your CE LMS should support this through integrations with Wistia, YouTube, Vimeo, and Brightcove – where video is stored and integrated into learning environments via content or video libraries, a la Netflix. Look for smart related features, such as interactive transcripts that let learners quickly skim and search captions to pinpoint video content of interest, as well as integration of assessment questions and social functionality. Live video is also on the rise.

Conclusion – CE Learning Technology is on Fire!

These baker’s dozen LMS requirements – in varying combinations – are the new face of continuing education. Although you may find other learning platforms that offer some of these ingredients, only CE LMSs are designed to support all of them well.

Not long ago, it was acceptable for continuing education providers to post content online in any format or context (and it showed). But a new standard of excellence has emerged, thanks to the efforts of multiple innovators in the CE LMS space. Now, it’s not only possible to marry state-of-the-art learning content and ecommerce capabilities – it’s expected. And this functionality, combined with the ability to integrate business systems and third-party applications, is shaping a strong future for the highly competitive CE market.

Join me and Community Brands’ Tamer Ali, as we explore how modern learning technology can help you achieve CE LMS success. Register for our webinar, “How to Drive Association Success with Continuing Education,” scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, September 21 at noon CT.

About the Author

John Leh is CEO and Lead Analyst at Talented Learning, LLC. Named one of the Top 20 Global Elearning Movers and Shakers of 2017, John is a fiercely independent LMS selection consultant and blogger who helps organizations develop and implement learning for business technology strategies. John’s advice is based on 22 years of industry experience, having served as a trusted LMS selection and sales adviser to more than 100 learning organizations with a total technology spend of more than $65 million. You can connect with John on Twitter at @JohnLeh or on LinkedIn.