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Online Learning for Trade Associations

Posts Tagged ‘LMS’

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 »

Quick Clicks

Posted by Ellen on July 11, 2011

Once again, aLearning is pleased to be able to save you enormous time and energy by perusing hundreds of blogs and resources to summarize those likely to be of particular interest to you. If you have any links that have been especially insightful or helpful to you, please feel free to add them to the comments section or send them to me directly for inclusion in a future Quick Clicks post.

These are in no particular order…. so scroll the entire post to be sure you won’t miss anything.


LMS? LCMS? What’s the Diff?

Thanks to this article by Nic Hinder, courtesy of the “Funderstanding” ( site and brought to our attention by Julien R. Barlan, Research Associate at Funderstanding, we’re all a little bit clearer on what distinguishes the two types of systems, the features that most often overlap, and when each system is put to best use (and by whom). That’s a lot to cover, and the article does it clearly and succinctly. You can find it here.


iSpring Free Update

If you’ve browsed our aLearning Fundamentals tutorials lately, you’ve noticed we went from a pure PowerPoint download to using iSpring to compile the PowerPoint for easier access and viewing. Though we use iSpring Presenter for most of the tutorials, we want to pass along this update regarding the iSpring Free version, which is available to non-profits for — you guessed it — free (although the Presenter version is not that expensive, compared to its competition).

According to an e-mail from Tanya Mosunova at iSpring:

iSpring Free 5.7 can generate Flash content that is compliant to SCORM 2004 R3, the most popular standard used in today’s eLearning. This means that with iSpring, courses created in PowerPoint can become compatible with Learning Management Systems (LMSs) that also support SCORM. Moodle LMS is a perfect example of an LMS that is great to use with iSpring-generated courses and is also free. We have just released a new version of iSpring Free, which upgrades it from Flash creating software to eLearning authoring master.

I’m not sure what upgrading to an “eLearning authoring master” means and haven’t taken the opportunity to test it out, so feel free to explore it on your own. Try this link (and let me know if it doesn’t work for you).


Ideas for Getting More HOW Into Your Face-to-Face Sessions

Trying to figure out how to make your sessions focused on “HOW” rather than “WHAT”? Though written for elearning development, the process and examples described in this article by Patti Shank can help you think through how to handle a session for FTF. This great Learning Solutions Magazine article, “The MOST Crucial Learning Activities and Media,” can be found here.


Flipped Classroom

Maybe you’ve tried this… it’s new to K-12 and catching on in higher ed.

You provide links to recorded lectures, discussions, and readings prior to the event, then focus on hands-on activities during the face-to-face (FTF) session. Though we should make it a goal to make this a model for educational sessions at conferences, established, stand-alone FTF events (institutes, seminars, etc.) are a good place to start. We often know more about our attendees, earlier, which is essential for making this model work.

I’d add that refusing to support poor learner behavior would also be critical to its success: if pre-event preparation is necessary for the FTF session to go well, you must resolve to start those sessions on time and with the assumption that learners have completed the preparatory assignments. No coddling those who “just didn’t have time” — doing so only punishes those who followed the rules and it jeopardizes your timeline.

So — keeping in mind that such a model will probably require managing some change around the current culture of the event — here’s more on the flipped classroom (or reverse instruction, as it’s also called). Note that these are just a few of the many resources a general Google search is likely to scare up for you:

“Flip your classroom through reverse instruction,” from The Electric Educator blog 

“Reverse Instruction: Dan Pink and Karl’s ‘Fisch Flip'” via the Connected Principals blog. 

“3 Keys to a Flipped Classroom” from the “David Truss: Pair-a-dimes for Your Thoughts” blog.

“The Revolution of Reverse Learning” from 2footgiraffe’s Blog.

“Advancing the Flip: Developments in Reverse Instruction” from the Connected Principals blog.


Why Knowing How the Brain Works Isn’t All You Need to Know

Yes, it’s important to know how we process new information and experiences, and that’s all about how the brain works. But don’t stop there. See “We are not our Brains,” from Norm Friesen’s blog  for more.


Need Coaching for Your Volunteer Online Content Leaders?

Looking for resources to provide guidance to your online volunteer content leaders? The University of New South Wales in Australia has provided some great tutorials, available free here. (Of course, don’t forget to access the free aLearning Fundamentals tutorial on “Leading Learning Events.” Just click the aLearning Fundamentals logo on the left.)


Help in Selecting an LMS

Janet Clarey’s “Wait. What? I can buy an LMS with a credit card?” doesn’t just provide a summary of her review of Intellum’s Rollbook LMS, but includes some great tips for your LMS/LCMS selection process. If you’re shopping for an LMS, you must read this post.


Ads on Twitter?

Mike at the electronic museum blog says it’s likely and cites the evidence he sees that your Twitter stream will soon carry advertisements in his post, “What if Twitter goes rogue?”

Don’t shrug this off. If you rely on Twitter, you need to think about what this could mean. Will you have any control over what those ads are for? What could it mean for your members, following a backchannel for your conference, to suddenly see an ad for something your organization doesn’t support? Ads on Twitter could mean a change you need to be ready to face.


Who Owns Your Photos In Social Media?

Kathy E. Gill at MEDIASHIFT asked this question, and answered it as well. Don’t assume you know the answer! (BTW… Facebook’s fine print on this matter is why I axed my account there.)


Attention K-12 Education Organizations!

If you or your members create online educational content or resources for students, teachers, administrators, or parents, you need to know about the “Learning Resources Framework Initiative” which will “improve search results for educational content on the Web” using a “common language of codes [that] Web producers and developers should embed within a digital learning object…”

Read about it in Education Week’s Digital Education column here.


Higher College Tuition Opens Opportunities for Associations

What could you be offering through your organization to those who might be affected by the rising cost of college tuition?

Here’s the data.

Because tuition and fees at public universities “have surged almost 130% over the last twenty years” while “middle class incomes have stagnated” fewer people are able to afford higher education. This creates a learning gap that your organization could fill… or some other organization could fill that gap, if you don’t. Why take that chance? So I’ll ask again: “What could you be offering through your organization to those who might be affected by the rising cost of college tuition?”


Social Media Tutorials

…Okay, they’re not tutorials in the sense that we use the term here at aLearning (the few links I clicked led to blog posts), but they’re still chockfull of great information, leads, and how-tos. Get started here, courtesy of Socialbrite.

Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Trends, eLearning Resources, Learning in General, LMS, Measuring Results, Social Learning | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

From FTF to Online

Posted by Ellen on July 6, 2011

The past couple of posts have tackled the myth that waiting lists are a good thing [see “Wait Till Next Year”] and that multiple offerings of the same program are the best option [see “Waiting Lists are Overrated”], and I promised to walk through a process for adapting face-to-face (FTF) sessions for online delivery…

…because, as I said in the previous post, “Offering a series of Webinars that imitate what happens in the FTF sessions won’t cut it.” Won’t even cut a tiny little slice of it.

Which isn’t the same thing as saying that Webinars can’t be a part of your mix of delivery modes. I’m just saying that you can’t simply schedule a series of Webinars that follow the same general format as your FTF session and assume you’ll have the same success. They’re different teaching and learning modes, and need to be planned for accordingly. That’s what I’m saying.

First, you need to understand how the various options deliver training online. aLearning: A Trail Guide to Association eLearning thoroughly covers this, so we’ll use a case study to highlight some key points.

Let’s say you offer a multi-day FTF program on Financial Planning in Our Industry. A look at the agenda shows segments on the following topics:

  • Software spreadsheet basics
  • Basic accounting
  • Industry-specific accounting
  • Industry-specific price-setting
  • Industry-specific regulatory/reporting requirements
  • Case study

Although what follows isn’t the only way to tackle repurposing this content for online delivery, here’s a start:

The spreadsheet basics segment could be delivered via asynchronous, online tutorial — either purchased off-the-shelf (OTS) or created specifically to address the learning points required for the program either in-house or outsourced. As a prerequisite so learners will be prepared to use the spreadsheet program in the program activities, the tutorial could include a pre-test option so those who are already familiar with the software could efficiently test out of the session while those who don’t do well on the pre-test will be routed through the tutorial.

Basic accounting could also be offered as an asynchronous, online course and probably purchased as an OTS course as well. Ideally, because some learners might have an accounting background (if not in the association’s industry) the accounting prerequisite should include a test-out option as well.

The industry-specific segments will probably need to be custom-developed.

To transfer the principles of general accounting to the specifics of the industry, an asynchronous course should incorporate interactive spreadsheets and activities. These could be supplemented with an online-accessible mentor to answer any questions. If the mentor’s e-mailed (or text message) responses aren’t adequate, the learner and mentor should be able to set up a call for a more detailed conversation.

Price-setting is a skill, so it requires opportunities for learners to see the skill performed and then practice it themselves. It’s likely there are many ways for prices to be determined (regardless of the industry), so providing a general overview of the price-setting options is imperative. This could be provided in a short tutorial that provides simple opportunities for learners to see examples of the various price-setting options, practice each, and make some general applications to their own situations. Questions learners have could be submitted for the basis of a followup Webinar. Because the questions would be specific to the learners, the content would be timely and relevant. And because learners will have covered the basics in the asynchronous tutorial, the focus of the synchronous Webinar would be on price-setting trouble-shooting, unusual pricing options too complicated for the tutorial, and — of course — answering learners’ questions.

Addressing regulatory/reporting requirements requires someone to call on their understanding of those requirements — so this is a fact-driven segment (rather than skill-driven) that could be started with required readings (rather than a tutorial) and followed up with an asynchronous discussion using an expert moderator. By posing particular “what if” scenario questions, the moderator would generate discussions about how the regulations/reporting procedures would be followed.

And the case study? Might not even be necessary if the focus throughout the other segments is on what learners can transfer back to their own situations. A case study is often used in a group as a sort of simulation to demonstrate transference from theory to reality — but if the course itself is doing that, is the benefit of the case study still worth its inclusion? In many cases, it probably isn’t.

So there you have it.

Were you keeping score? Did you see how much can be covered on the learner’s schedule, rather than on your schedule? Here’s what I see from the learner’s point of view:

  • One possible phone call (if I have questions about applying general accounting principles to my field)
  • One Webinar on price-setting

Everything else is covered on my time (and one could argue that the phone call was set up with my schedule in mind, too).

And the budget? That’s another post. But I will say this:

  • …if you end up investing $54,000 (our estimated expenses for two FTF sessions on the same topic for 80 members — see the previous blog post, “Waiting Lists Are Overrated,” for the full discussion)
  • …and you could charge $650 for the “course”
  • …and all 120 people for your next three sessions of the popular FTF program signed up for the online version
  • …you’d net $24,000 in revenues.

Yes, that’s after expenses. Here’s the math:

$54,000/120 learners = $450 per learner

$650-$450 = $200 revenue per learner

$200 x 120 learners = $24,000

And my bet is that you’d have more than 120 members register for the online offering.

Which means you’d increase your revenues $200/registration. Not bad!*

So you’ve accomplished many things: you’ve eliminated your waiting list — learners who need a specific program will get it, when they want it, when they need it. You’ve eclipsed any temptation they might have had to slip over to your competitor to get their learning needs met.

Most of all? You’ve continued to deliver meaningful, effective education and training to your members and do so at an affordable price.

Isn’t that what it’s all about? Isn’t that more important than keeping some “waiting list” so you (or your boss) can feel popular and desirable?!?

Of course it is.

*Okay…. there’s no ignoring the fact that you’d probably need an LMS for this to work, and that would cut into your expected revenues — maybe even put you in the red that first year or two, but over time you’ll earn that investment back. The fact remains that you will have instituted a system of delivering a popular program in a way that retains its value while eliminating that dreaded waiting list.

It’s all good!

Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Trends, Asynchronous Learning Types, Financing eLearning, Justifying aLearning, LMS, Webinars | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

aLearning Announces Affiliation

Posted by Ellen on June 2, 2011

We’re pleased to announce our new affiliation with Tagoras, respected association-focused consulting and research firm. We’ve supported their efforts for some time — as you’ve seen from our glowing reports of their research. We hope you’ll investigate their offerings if you haven’t already, and will continue to watch the aLearning Blog for future notices of their releases.

Remember: the more informed you are about the decisions you make, especially in elearning, the more likely you’ll get the buy-in and support your online learning initiative needs for success!

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

DBs for LMSes

Posted by Ellen on May 17, 2011

Of course, your first step in any comparison of LMS/LCMS products is to get a copy of Tagoras’ 2011 Association Learning Management Systems Report (see “Tagoras on Target” post for more info, or go directly to, but if you want some comparison information for other systems, here are a couple more resources to check out.

PAY ATTENTION TO THIS FINE PRINT: Unlike the Tagoras report, these are corporate-focused, so the systems aren’t generally aligned with what we need. Why check them out? Maybe they have something unique that you need. Or maybe you just want to be able to convince the powers that be that you’ve done your due diligence, and other systems out there just don’t fit your needs or price.

I’ve already mentioned Craig Weiss’s fabulous work on his online database of LMSes (haven’t seen it yet? Go here… and don’t forget to subscribe to his very helpful blog).

And if you haven’t discovered the valuable resources provided by Brandon Hall Research, you need to check out their KnowledgeBase: “an online, database-driven repository of information about learning management systems.” You can register for a three-month access ($995) or a one-year access ($1595). It covers 130 systems. That could be overwhelming to analyze each yourself — not to mention compare and contrast the various options.

So here’s the real value in what BH is offering: it includes

  • an LMS Comparison Tool so you can see how similar systems actually differ
  • an LMS Selection Tool containing 31 filters so you can narrow the broad options to those that include the features you seek
  • profiles of the  LMS companies so you can find out their size, length of time in the business, client lists, and generally assess for yourself their “fit” with your organization and get an idea of their long-term viability and stability

Think it’s pricey? Well, think of it as an investment. Think of it as part of your risk mitigation plan.

You know what we say about computers: garbage in, garbage out. You input bad data, and you’re going to get lousy results. The same is true in your hunt for the best LMS. Without the best information in hand, you won’t make the best decision.

Check out the details or subscribe to the database here.

Want an overview of the KnowledgeBase? Register for BH’s FREE Webinar scheduled for Thursday, May 19, 1-2 p.m. EST. Details on this event and registration can be found here. 

Posted in aLearning Strategies, eLearning Resources, Financing eLearning, LMS, Social Learning | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »