There’s a good reason certain recipes stand the test of time. Why reinvent the wheel when a tried-and-true, taste-tested method is sure to bring the best results. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for variations and creativity and finding that right combination to suit personal tastes, but certain steps are non-negotiable. You wouldn’t, for example, omit the sofrito from paella or attempt a gumbo without a nice, dark roux, because like most things, creating a great meal requires a strong foundation.
The same holds true for organizations preparing to launch an elearning program. For many association professionals, the thought of creating an online learning environment is the equivalent of being asked to prepare the Thanksgiving meal in under two hours – not enough time and not enough resources. And yet, offering online learning to your members is one of the single most valuable benefits you can provide.
Fear not, after delivering more than 3.2 million continuing education hours over 14 years, we’ve got a recipe that’s sure to keep your members coming back for more.
To get things cooking, consider your members. What do your “Super Members” or highly-engaged members want. If you don’t know the answer, it’s time to find out. Surveys, one-on-one conversations, or focus groups can help determine if members prefer attending live webinars with direct interaction with presenters or taking courses at their own convenience. Maybe it’s a dash of this and pinch of that, but either way, learning more about members’ needs as a means to inform your programming is a worthwhile undertaking to ensure a yield of satiated members.
Next, you’ll want to research the different technologies available in the market. A learning management system (LMS) should be able to scale with your organization. You wouldn’t bring a can of tuna to a potluck, so why would you choose a platform that only offers live webinar delivery tools to your members? Find an LMS with on-demand functionality that’s all-inclusive and allows your organization to build out its offerings as it grows.
Once you’ve chosen your LMS, it’s time to prepare your content. Again, consider your members. At what stage are they in their career? Are they technologically savvy? Gen Xers or Millennials? Boomers? In what format do they prefer to consume content? Do you plan to seek continuing education credit approval through your state or credentialing body? Each of these factors should inform the type of content and topics offered to members.
Now that you’ve decided on the content, let’s talk about virtual presenting. Offering a one-sided online lecture, devoid of flavor, is the quickest way to lose member engagement. Spice it up! Maybe you want to poll the audience after each section or incorporate a chat window so the audience can converse. Or, perhaps you want to incorporate YouTube videos. Whatever route you pursue, be sure the technology is equipped to accommodate if you want your audience leave your sessions satisfied.
Finally, you’ve done the research, chosen your LMS, designed content, and thought about speaker strategy. It’s a lot to digest, and you may feel like stopping there, but there are additional steps needed to ensure online learning success. To learn more about launching your elearning program, including information on how to price and package, download our “6-Step Guide to Launching Epic Elearning Content.”