In last week’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 (CE) programs.
CE Management: Providing learners with an easy way to report and claim credits is paramount. At a basic level, CE management must 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, all 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.
Integration: The CE LMS is part of an ecosystem of related applications—association management system (AMS), ecommerce, content development, website, marketing automation and email platform, social, customer support and more—which all 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 YourMembership, netFORUM, iMIS, Salesforce, Zoom, WebEx, Shopify, Marketo, Freshbooks, WordPress, Twitter, ZenDesk and more.
Usage-Based License: CE content sellers must 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 logins, content registrations, purchases or content completions, which more closely fit a CE business model.
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.
Globalization: S-based associations and other CE providers are striving to extend their brands globally. It’s too expensive to try organically, but 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.
Content Creation Management: CE LMSs have strong content creation and management tools. You 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.
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 their programs will lead to a passing score. If you are in this camp, you want a system with the ability to create question banks tied to skill, competency or topic, and serve up questions randomly and strategically to learners as practice exams and simulated exam environments.
Video: One of today’s hottest learning trends involves delivery of short, relevant video bursts the moment a learner needs information or learning reinforcement. Your CE LMS must 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 to 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.
CE learning technology is on fire!
These baker’s dozen of LMS requirements—in varying combinations—are the new face of continuing education. Although you may find other learning platforms which offer some of these same 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, but 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.