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Online Learning for Trade Associations

Posts Tagged ‘e-Learning Guild’

December Quick Clicks

Posted by Ellen on December 28, 2011

As usual, here’s aLearning’s attempt to provide you some valuable, quick PD — for you! We know that you give more time to your association members and fellow staffers than you do to nurturing your own professional acumen, so we’ve gathered some links to articles, sites, blog posts, and other resources that we think would be worth your time.

This is a brief version… whenever it’s quiet on this blog, you can be sure there’s a lot of activity behind the scenes. Watch for an end-of-the-year post for a peek.

In the meantime, if you have suggestions for Quick Clicks, send them along for a future post!


Help With Tutorials

Thinking of creating some online courses yourself, but don’t know where to start? Feeling intimidated about learning how to use an elearning authoring tool? Patti Shank’s “Beginning Instructional Authoring: Learning How to Author” at Learning Solutions e-magazine breaks it all down and provides a plethora of resources. Take a look.


But Which Tools to Use?!?

Craig Weiss at the E-Learning 24/7 Blog has evaluated what’s out there and has posted his Top Ten “Best of the Best” list. Find out who made the list and why popular choices like Articulate Studio and Captivate didn’t make the list.


When Brainstorming Fails

“Even though groups generally enjoy their brainstorming efforts, it turns out that people in groups actually tend to generate fewer ideas than they would if they were to brainstorm individually and then submit their ideas to be compiled later,” writes Mary Arnold in another great Learning Solutions article: “The Human Factor: The Trouble with Group Brainstorming.” Here’s the best part: she gives specifics for how to create an environment for the best brainstorming. Don’t assume you can bring people together in front of a whiteboard or flip chart and that amazing things will happen.


Posted in Asynchronous Learning Types, eLearning Resources, Learning in General | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Quick Clicks

Posted by Ellen on October 10, 2011

A big THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to the recent aLearning Association Survey… while we compile the results into readable posts for you (watch for new posts with the results)… here are some quick resources for you.

eLearning Glossary

ASP? CMS? CMI? ILS? Looking for a great glossary of common elearning acronyms and terms? Look no further than the e-Learning Guild’s Learning Solutions’ magazine glossary, found here.

Tutorial Tools

And here’s another great article from Learning Solutions. If you’re considering a tool for creating your own tutorials and asynchronous, online courses, don’t assume Articulate Presenter or Adobe Presenter are your best choices. See “Making Sense of PowerPoint Pandemonium” by Mark Simon in the September 14 issue for a great summary of these tools, plus iSpring’s Presenter (aLearning’s choice) and Lectora’s Snap.

Should You Charge for a Webinar?

If you haven’t read Jeff Cobb’s great post, “Webinar Strategy — The Inform/Perform Distinction,” you’re missing some great advice on how to decide whether to charge for a Webinar or not. What’s even better, his recommendation for those you should offer free should cost you less (if anything) to provide than it will cost you to offer those you would charge a fee for. When the financial numbers make sense, the instructional design makes sense, and the strategy makes sense, then you know the idea is sound.

Thinking of Producing Your Own Webinars? Here’s Help

See Susan Kistler’s summary of some “Low-Cost Webinar Production Tools” at the AssociationTech blog — note that she isn’t comparing different Webinar platforms but describes GoToWebinar by Citrix and the tools one organization uses for editing, archiving, and hosting. I’ve not used GoToWebinar, but if it requires post-production audio editing, you’ll want to try it out before you commit to it so you can reduce the amount of extra work involved in making the session available in recorded format.

More on Learning from Webinar Recordings

What are the advantages to recorded/archived Webinars? Take a look at this post from Donald Clark. His point is related to higher ed lectures, but the same likely holds true for our purposes as well.

Encouragement for Starting Your Social Learning Initiative

Looking for inspiration about how easy it is to get started with social learning? See “Implementing Social Learning: Start Small, Start Now” by Bill Cushard.

Want more specifics on how implementing social learning can be accomplished? See Cushard’s post, “Practical Ways to Design Social Media into Your Training Programs” at his Mindflash blog.

Ohhh… and there’s so much more, but that’s all I have had time to review for now… !


Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Trends, Asynchronous Learning Types, eLearning Marketing, eLearning Resources, Financing eLearning, Social Learning | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why are So Many LMS Buyers Dissatisfied?

Posted by Ellen on July 15, 2011

Patti Shank, in her 2010 “Getting Started with Learning  Management Systems” research report for the e-Learning Guild cites some important findings:

  • Of the 909 survey respondents, “more than a third think that the LMS can be an “impediment to learning.”
  • “Only about 62% of respondents said that their LMS lives up to vendor promises.”
  • “Almost 13% plan to abandon their LMS.”
  • “On average, most respondents spent two to six months on each phase of implementation except for administration, which took longer.”

Do a Google search on “dissatisfied with LMS” and the number that keeps popping up is 25%. That’s a lot, considering the time and expense it takes to select and implement such a system.

Is it the fault of the vendors? The products? The buyers?

Well… probably a combination of all these.

Garry Kranz adds a bit of perspective. In his article for the February 2011 issue of Workforce Magazine Online, “eLearning Hits its Stride,” he cites these findings:

  • More than 70% of enterprise organizations [multi-unit corporations] have an LMS
  • Of those who have an LMS, fewer than 20% have a formal, documented learning strategy
  • Of those with a documented learning strategy, under 7% have a content sub-strategy

Ikes! Think maybe the lack of a learning strategy has something to do with their LMS frustrations?!?

Creating an elearning strategy isn’t just about deciding which content to put online. It involves planning around (and for) personnel and systems. You might find you won’t even need an LMS! Instead, you might decide to focus on something that will lead you closer to ICE (see the previous post for more on intelligent content engineering).

The moral of the story is to do your homework.  Taking the time to strategize your elearning involvement should help you make decisions that will lead you to success (you’ll recall that this is what Tagoras found out in their recent study as well).

Don’t ignore the data!

Don’t let your association leaders ignore it, either. If you’ll need more resources or time to create a meaningful strategy, use these reports to support your position. To do anything less is to shortchange yourself, your organization’s leaders, and your membership. You don’t want that, do you?!?

Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Surveys, aLearning Trends, eLearning Resources, Financing eLearning, Justifying aLearning, LMS | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

LMS = Losing My Smile

Posted by Ellen on February 5, 2010

[Association LMS Vendors, Take Note!]

Every time I see a report that shows what an organization can expect to spend on an LMS (learning management system), I lose my smile. Worse, I want to hang my head and weep.

In her “Building the Business Case for e-Learning,” published by the eLearning Guild, Temple Smolen writes, “Most off-the-shelf LMS products require some customization. The costs can vary widely for a LMS with customization, but under $100,000 is a reasonable starting assumption for most organizations with less than 2,000 employees.”

Ikes! Those prices!

But wait — there’s more!!

Notice the word “employees”?

It’s fair to say that most LMS providers are still oriented to delivering learning modules via an LMS to employees — individuals within the same corporation. The corporate business rules often allow LMS costs to be leveraged across various departments in ways that associations cannot model.

For now, let’s ask the companies providing instructor-led options to stand aside (companies such as Blackboard, CommPartners, etc.) and focus on LMS systems that facilitate asynchronous, online access to uploaded courses and tutorials.

As colleagues of mine know, I’ve been advocating for an association-specific alternative for a long time. We need something that reaches past our staff offices so our statewide, national, and international members can easily and affordably access.

Doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to work.

Did I mention the need for affordability, too?

It’s funny how what seems like a few dollars to many LMS providers adds up a lot faster on our side of the table.

Let’s take the data Jeff Cobb and Celisa Steele at Tagoras uncovered in their Association Learning Management Systems report (October 2009), which showed that for small associations, the average start-up cost for an LMS was:

 $50/user/year (at the low end)

Sounds reasonable.

Until you do the math:

$50 x 1000 members (we assume 1/2 our members might access?) = $50,000/year!!

Double Ikes!!

And don’t tell me to add that $50 onto the registration fee.

Because that $50 will be on top of marketing costs… and any revision costs we’ve set aside in case there’s a boo-boo we need to fix or an update we need to add… or any other items we need to include in our overhead (pay extra for e-mail service? how about registration processing fees through an outsource agency?)…

It’s not like we can charge that much money for an online course in the first place (though some organizations do — you know who you are; that’s why I haven’t signed up for your online courses).

Ready? Let’s walk through a one-year budget for one online course (after development).

Cost of doing online business (marketing, updates, etc.) = $1200/year
Hosting fee/LMS fee = $50,000

Total = $51,200

Now let’s say I think my members would pay — AT MOST — $200 for a course. That means I need 256 learners EACH YEAR just to BREAK EVEN.

But that’s not all!!

According to the Tagoras report, the average cost per learner goes down only slightly over a three-year average, so you can’t expect much savings over time.

This is too bad, as associations are generally known as loyal clients and willing references to other associations seeking services and products.

Something that will bring my smile back is a business model for LMSs that suits small associations and non-profits, not just large organizations.

One company is listening — and is willing to work with associations to forge a partnership that will help alleviate costs while providing quality LMS service.

More about this company and its program for associations and non-profits in the next entry.

Posted in aLearning Strategies, eLearning Resources, Financing eLearning | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 22 Comments »


Posted by Ellen on February 1, 2010

In the eLearning Guild’s 2009 white paper, “Building the Business Case for e-Learning” Temple Smolen writes, “In an April 2009 survey of eLearning Guild members, 48% reported a positive return on investment (ROI) from e-Learning, while only 5% reported no return or a negative ROI. In fact, not only do most members generate a positive return, but 50% report a ROI greater than 15%.”

For advocates of alearning, this is a great sliver of data.

But is ROI always the best thing to be measuring? How about measuring how successfully we delivered what our members expected? Or how about determining if the investment we’ve made in elearning really paid off more than offering the same content in a face-to-face format?

As with all things, you need to know what your original success criteria were before you determine if you met them. (Sounds obvious, but come on, haven’t we all measured success without a baseline one time or another?!?)

If you want to demonstrate to your board of directors that the investment you made in alearning will break even or generate revenue, then an ROI is a great measure. The formula for ROI is Net Benefit/Cost. The Net Benefit could be cost savings or revenues. You also want to consider whether your costs should be recovered within the year or over a longer period (for example, the cost of hiring a Webinar production company should be recoverable within the year whereas an LMS investment should be calculated over several years).

Measuring expectations is a little different and unless there’s a formula for ROE (return on expecations) I don’t know about, you’ll need to be more creative. Let’s say you introduced elearning and expected it would engage otherwise non-active members. Start with the number of members who did not participate in an online offering and, over time, measure the change. Let’s say 40% of your 2000 members (800) were non-participants in learning offerings prior to online learning. After the first measurement period (A month? Six? Twelve? It’s really up to you), 40 of those members took an online course (5%). You could say that you’ve experienced a 5% return on your expectation.

According to Smolen (who cites Wikipedia), “For people in finance, EVA (Economic Value Added) is considered a more accurate measure of profitability” because it “is a measure which assumes there is an opportunity cost to the money you are investing, and it might yield better returns elsewhere. The calculation allows for an adjustment to compare one project to a hypothetical alternative investment.”

In other words, if you want to, you could use EVA to calculate the variance between what your elearning investment has delivered versus a face-to-face (FTF) version of the same course. You need another piece of the financial picture for this formula than you do for calculating ROI:
(Net Benefit – Cost of Capital) / Cost Investment = EVA

Her white paper provides all the details for making this calculation (or see Wikipedia for an explanation there).

Here’s an alternative: Let’s say a FTF program is suitable to adaption online. In the FTF format, because of overhead, the program costs $30,000, reaches 30 learners, and generates $2000/year in revenue. It costs $1000/attendee (in association costs; costs to attendees for travel, lodging, etc. are separate and not included because of the wide variance in calculating them). Your waiting list for the program is long, with many people dropping because the program is only held once each year.

After calculating the cost of development, you determine that an alearning version of the program would cost $60,000 but because it’s online, you can allow any number of members to access it at any time. You decide that your members would be willing to pay $200 for a year’s access. If you have 150 people register over two years, you’ll earn back your investment.

If your alearning offering will still be viable after three years, and/or if you know at least 75 people per year will register the third year (assuming 50% attrition because the offering doesn’t have the shine of a new penny anymore), you stand to gain $15,000 in revenue. Okay, subtract some ongoing costs for your LMS, marketing, and other stuff, and your revenue shrinks, but it will still generate more than the $6000 over three years that the FTF session delivers.

Finally, over three years, your cost per learner is just $160, rather than $1000.

In the long term, your alearning offering will reach more people and do so at a much lower per-member cost, even though your up-front investment will be twice as high.

ROI isn’t the only financial measure that you should calculate and consider — EVA might be more appropriate. And when it comes to our members — ROE should always be considered!

Posted in aLearning Strategies, eLearning Resources, Justifying aLearning, Measuring Results | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »