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Creating Impactful Credentialing Programs with the Right Systems and Processes

Associations are finding themselves in the midst of a landscape that is constantly shifting. From tackling new technology to generational shifts and competing resources, associations need to take a closer look at why they exist -– what exactly their value proposition is as an association. It’s an evolution, but a fast moving one, and the time to embrace change is now, especially when it comes to eLearning, certificate programs, and credentialing. Whereas associations used to be the masthead for industry professionals to network, access relevant knowledge, and get professional development, the tides are rapidly changing.

As Keith and Adrienne poignantly noted, the shelf life of a degree is 18 months, and it takes an average of 12 months for a graduate to find a solid job. Millennials are changing the workplace as well; the average worker will change jobs every 4.4 years, while 91 percent of Millennials expect to change jobs (and often even careers) at least every 3 years. With all of these shifts, the need to prove proficiency in an industry is becoming increasingly important.

Get ready associations, because this means there is a huge opportunity for you to prove your value to your existing base, attract new members, and drive non-dues revenue. That opportunity lies in embracing the world of continuing education and making your association a major player amongst MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), free online university classes, LinkedIn courses, and on-the-go learning platforms like lynda.com.

If done well and with the right technology, your association can actually be the leader in your industry by offering benefits like stackable credentials, micro-credentials, and digital badging to name a few. In fact, if you can create impactful, engaging, and credible programs, universities will actually drive their students to your association for eLearning to make their students more employable and increase their own ratio of graduating students finding jobs.

Sold on eLearning for your association? Great! Now what? Keith and Adrienne have identified some key steps you’ll need to take to make sure your credentialing programs are impactful, competitive, and respected.

First, you need to have the right systems in place. If you’re not set up with the right technology, you’re not set up for success. Be sure you have a strong association management system (AMS) to effectively manage your membership base, analyze data, and track both dues and non-dues revenue. You will also need to make sure the learning management system (LMS) you choose can seamlessly integrate with your AMS and offer a single sign-on to make the member experience easy. Robust LMS platforms offer you the ability to deliver live streaming and on-demand courses, track a member’s progress, and deliver certificates in real-time.

Next, you’ll need to chart a path for eLearning and credentialing success, which Keith and Adrienne have broken down into five steps:

Ask your members. Get buy-in from your members and board about what courses and types of credentials are meaningful to them. It is also a best practice to get feedback from employers about the types of credentials they’re looking for in prospective employees; after all, a credential doesn’t help much if it’s not advancing careers in an industry.

Build a credentialing business plan. From pricing models for members and non-members to content bundling and course mapping, it’s important to know where you want to go with your eLearning, how you’ll get there, and how you’ll prove value to members and industry professionals.

Incorporate key trends. Whatever eLearning programs you want to create, they’ll need to be revamped every five years at a minimum. If you think things are changing quickly today, the exponential growth of technology will only move things along faster. Don’t let your association or eLearning offerings grow stale – competitors are chomping at the bit to get their piece of the pie.

Don’t forget about the end user. Be sure your eLearning is easy to use, can be accessed on multiple types of devices, and can be adapted to different learning levels.

Work with a partner. There are a lot of options out there for LMSs and credentialing engines. Choose a trusted consultant to help you navigate through the different vendors out there and find the one who will meet your needs and budget.

Don't miss Adrienne and Keith at Learnapalooza, where they'll dive even deeper into creating impactful credentialing programs. In their session, you'll:

  • Learn the step-by-step process to implement a credentialing program.
  • Understand the key technology to consider in order to deliver a robust end-user experience (LMS).
  • Understand the key trends and possible environmental threats out in the lifelong learning world.
  • Build the “golden-handcuff” of membership for your association.

Grab your tickets today.


Avoid these 5 LMS shopping pitfalls

Selecting the wrong LMS is a costly mistake

By Tracy King, M.A., CAE | 01/05/2017

Selecting the wrong LMS is a costly mistake. It’s like investing in a new house and figuring out your family doesn’t fit when the moving truck pulls up. With lean budgets and even leaner staff resources, how can we ensure we’re on the right track?

As you make your move into the LMS market, look out for these five pitfalls.

Missing stakeholders. Your Learning Management System (LMS) selection will impact the entire enterprise. Organizations that think of an LMS narrowly as a content delivery vehicle miss the mark. This key piece of technology infrastructure must be integrated into your overall member experience strategy. Ensure absolute executive support. Representatives from each division should be appointed voices within your stakeholder team. Incorporating key stakeholders will result in critical insights otherwise missed. And fewer surprises later.

Unrealistic budget. According to an industry users study, organizations lowball the expected cost of acquiring an LMS by about 59 percent. Profound sticker shock leads to decisions that sabotage success. Such as, selecting a cheaper option but being stung again and again by costly customizations. Or, blowing the budget on a great system but failing to reserve funds for eLearning software, multimedia production, content licenses, and qualified instructional design staff to ensure you are offering the amazing member experience you envisioned. To build a realistic budget [link], multiply your expected costs by 1.59. Consider the type of learning formats you intend to offer and what it will cost to acquire the licenses and equipment to produce them. Don’t forget to save room in your budget for eLearning staff; you’ll need an LMS administrator and at least one instructional designer. And if your team does not have the bandwidth or expertise to lead your LMS acquisition process, budget for a consultant as well.

Demo debacles. It may seem reasonable to start scheduling demos as soon as you’re thinking about acquiring an LMS to preview what’s out there. Beware. When organizations skip to directly to demos they experience frustration, feature confusion, and are overwhelmed. Why? Because initial demos will by default present all of the features the solution provider thinks you may be interested in vs. the select feature set you need. Before scheduling your first demo, discover what is unique about you. Complete your discovery discussions fleshing out your objectives, needs, and wants. Draft your requirements documentation. And then send out an RFI so you’re only looking at options that may qualify for your RFP. This effective approach allows solution providers to show you exactly what you need so you can compare options based upon your priorities. For more LMS demo best practices, read my blog post here.

LMS vs. LCMS confusion. Increasingly Learning Management Systems are offering Learning Content Management System (LCMS) capabilities, but these are actually different animals. An LMS will host your content. You produce it and then you publish it within your LMS, which will track your selected reporting metrics. In addition to publishing your content and tracking metrics, an LCMS allows you to build your courses right in the system. Distinguish which you want. Do you want a system that will host content you’ve created with other tools? Take a look at LMS options. Do you want a system that offers the added capability of creating eLearning right there in the admin of your system? Look at LCMS options. Insider tip: When viewing LCMS options, make sure you define the precise learning formats you intend to build. This will prepare you to ask the right questions during feature demos to ensure the system supports the learning experiences you wish to offer.

Learning experience letdown. One of the top reasons organizations seek to replace their current LMS is because they aren’t happy with the experience it offers. We can all agree there are systems out there that need a UX overhaul. But it’s important to acknowledge that part of the experience letdown for members is the content design; chiefly, the fact it’s not designed to be eLearning at all. Your LMS or LCMS is a powerful piece of technology, but the software does not design learning. You do. You can fill your LMS with capture recordings, webinar recordings, and PDF files, but these info resources are not the learning experiences that members will bookmark your portal and return for. Online learners bring different expectations to digital learning than classroom training. We must prepare to invest in what it takes to design learning to maximize the native features of digital learning environments. Associations that think beyond acquiring an LMS to what’s required to deliver learning experiences their target audiences will get excited about, set themselves up for the ultimate win.

Navigate around these five pitfalls to acquire the just-right-fit LMS to deliver upon your vision.

Don't miss these tips and more at Learnapalooza! Grab your tickets today.


Association learning: State of disruption but exciting time

TRENDS Attends: DigitalNow 2017

Data, the Internet of Things and innovation continue to be of interest to association executives, but learning strategy became one of the top topics at this year’s DigitalNow Conference.

Top association executives from across the country gathered this week in Orlando, Fla., for what is considered a “must attend” event in the association space. Attendees have come to expect executive-level discussions and presentations at DigitalNow, where intellect is stimulated by peers and executives from the for-profit world. Among those was Britt Andreatta, president of 7th Mind Inc., who returned this year as a keynoter.

The former chief learning officer at Lynda.com, Andreatta discussed the evolution of adult education and the role that associations can play in the development of their members, and their own employees. TRENDS talked with Andreatta about evolution, revolution, technology and the future of education.

You had a lot of interesting things in your session this morning about the difference between training and learning. What do association professionals need to understand about that when considering what their own learning programs?

I started talking at the beginning of the presentation by placing people in time, in terms of the major evolutions and revolutions happening – the shift from training to learning. We’ve also shifted from employee to talent, and we’ve shifted from management to social science to neuroscience. So all of that happened kind of simultaneously and was pushed by technology.

Everything is in a big state of disruption, and it’s really an exciting time. It really means that learning is shifting in significant ways. We have entered a time where millennials are lifelong learners and they are seeking a place where they can grow and develop, so we know that people want more and want better. And bringing out the best peoples skills means giving it to them when they need it, not having them sign up for a class that is going to be four weeks from now and they need the information today.

We also talked about the difference between learning and training. Training is really an event or an activity, and it is usually framed from the organization’s perspective and what they need learners to know. It came out of compliance training and risk mitigation. Training can often miss the mark. Many of us have sat through bad training and wondered why we were wasting time on this.

Where learning is really a holistic life long process. It’s really about helping people develop their potential and have a skill set where they can innovative and be creative on the spot solving a problem not just knowing a prescriptive way to do something. And learning is always designed from the learners’ perspective; so really thinking about what are their pain points. Where are they starting in their skill set? Where do they need to go? And really making sure that the experience shifts them both psychologically and behaviorally to that new place. It’s an exciting time to be looking at learning.

You also talked about technology being the driver in this. Millennials and all of us have the world in the palm of our hands. Many of our readers are taking this into consideration, they’re also adopting learning management systems and creating more distance learning. What technologies are we maybe not aware of yet, and what is just out on the horizon?

I did some show and tell from the stage today of a few of my favorites. Everything from looking at digital badging and it’s important because learners want to be able to track everything they are doing. A lot of learning comes from so many sources and not just the course catalog, whatever that is. People want that learning, that digital resume to be transportable to other experiences. We looked at LMSes and many of those are pretty static the way they currently are framed. One new product on the market that I like is Degreed. It’s an Experience Management System (XMS), so people can keep a living portfolio of all their learning experiences and enterprises…instead of trying to put everything in an LMS. The LMSes that will survive will be the ones that become more adaptable and able to house all kinds of learning from mini bite-sized to six-week intensive.

Speaking of the mini and the intensives, what should we be considering when creating a learning strategy?

What I like to try to help people understand is the three different components. Information: People need access to pieces of info and data, and once they have it, they can take action. Then there is instruction. This is where you need someone to teach you and show you how to do something. There you need an instructor and a learner. It can still be a one-to-one or a video. But someone with expertise will show you how to do something. This should include the learner trying it themselves, so they build that skill. Something else to consider here is how many repetitions it takes to make a habit. This ads some practice elements.

The third thing is inspiration. This taps into purpose and the why behind things so that people can get excited about why they are doing something. When people have that, and they find themselves in a situation where their skill or knowledge is not sufficient, they can innovate.

Executives should also look at the difference between a beginner level versus master status, and that you provide the right learning path to get them to where they need to go. Sometimes that path is not clearly delineated, so someone could have a lot of content but have tons for the novice but they need more for the expert. It’s really important to have a clear strategy, multitiered approach built around growth mindset strategies.

Contact Andreatta at www.brittandreatta.com. Her books, Wired to Grow and Wired to Resist can be found at Amazon.com.

Editor's note: TRENDS was a media sponsor for DigitalNow 2017.

More from DigitalNow 2017 to come in future issues.

Learnapalooza Details:
When:
Conference: Oct. 3-4, 2017
Deep-Dive Boot Camp: Oct. 5, 2017
Where:
Hilton Crystal City
Arlington, VA
Credits:
Up to 14 CAE credits
Who Should Attend:
  • Chief Learning Officers
  • Executive Directors and CEOs
  • Education Program Managers
  • Instructional Designers
  • Credentialing Program Directors
  • Training and Content Developers
  • LMS Coordinators
  • Marketing Staff
  • Membership Staff
What's Included:
  • 2 Days of Interactive Training Plus Bootcamps
  • Networking events, Breakfasts & Lunches
  • Opportunity to test various LMSs and other learning tools
Headliners
Community Brands NTBenchPrep
Side Stage
GKGCommPartnersHLT

Supporting Sponsors
cdm Alanic

 

Association TRENDS is a CAE Approved Provider. Our programs meet the requirements for fulfilling the professional development requirements to earn or maintain the Certified Association Executive credential. We will maintain records of your participation in accord with CAE policies. For more information about the CAE credential or Approved Provider program, please visit www.whatiscae.org