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Adrian Sallis

Oct 27, 2022

Breaking Down E-learning Barriers For Associations, Not-For-Profits And Charities

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Associations, charities and not-for-profit organisations do an amazing job of advocating, educating and supporting our communities. Yet their very nature means they rarely have the resources that private and public organisations have at their disposal. As a result it can be a challenge to introduce new technologies and digital solutions even though these systems can be very beneficial to the organisation. 

The challenge is usually a combination of financial, expertise and human resource to manage and own the project. Indeed, in an informal poll of association executives at a recent national conference, nearly all executives expressed a desire to move more professional development online, yet didn't have the resource to do so. Let’s face it, kicking off a new project is hard for anyone or any organisation. It requires research, internal and external consultation, planning, execution and of course funding. When the project involves new technology it can seem even harder, with e-learning projects seeming harder still.

Building a case for e-learning

E-learning is one of the fastest growing technology sectors today. Far beyond being restricted to academic use, e-learning is found in organisations of all sizes, impacting all types of roles in many different types of training. Some typical uses include:

 

  • Staff onboarding, health and safety and compliance
  • Volunteer training
  • Supplementing and replacing face-to-face professional development workshops
  • Hosting webinars, code of compliance and new member training for associations.

 

Like any new initiative some planning and set up is required before launching an e-learning programme. However, it is not as onerous as you may think. In short order you'll be able to provide 24/7 accessible training, manage learning across your organisation from one platform and access real-time reports on learner engagement.

So why is e-learning so hard?

E-learning has a reputation of being hard, costly and time consuming to implement, likely because there are more moving parts than many other types of projects. Some of these that you need to consider are:

The technology

To effectively manage, deliver and report on e-learning you need to have a Learning Management System (LMS). This can cause consternation in and of itself as there are a lot of solutions to choose from all with long lists of features, benefits and different price points.  Don't sign up based on snazzy features that you don't think you need but may use one day. Do look for an LMS that have customers similar to your organisation delivering similar courses.

Creating e-learning courses

Creating e-learning and online training can be daunting. In large enterprise organisations the role is typically undertaken by Instructional Designers who specialise in working with subject matter experts, creative media designers and other stakeholders to build online courses. This expertise and process can equate to weeks or months of development costing anything from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Of course not all online courses require this much work initially, especially if you already have some content which you want to digitise to create e-learning equivalents. At Intuto we have our own in-house Course Production Team who can take your existing content and digitise it for you at a fraction of the cost. This is a great option especially if you don’t have the internal resource to create the courses yourself.

Support

One perceived barrier raised by some, especially smaller organisations, is not wanting or being able to provide technical support to their learners for fear their learners won’t be able to manage the technology. While the concern is genuine to a degree, support and customer service has evolved significantly over the years and any good provider should be able to provide you with the reassurance and examples you need to satisfy yourself that you won’t end up spending all your days triaging emails and calls from learners needing tech support. When considering vendors, look up independent reviews on sites like Capterra to get a feel for how the vendor treats their customers and their level of service. Ask to see the vendor's service level agreement (SLA) as well.

Integrating with other platforms

Very few things happen in isolation these days, especially in technology. Data privacy, security and interoperability with other systems you use may be a valid concern and should certainly be a consideration. A good vendor will have the ability to integrate with other online systems like your association memberships system (AMS). Just remember that there are an awful lot of different systems out there and while your LMS vendor may not have a current integration with your AMS now they will likely be able to do something about it in the future if your use case is valid and you’re prepared to facilitate the process.  Once again, it is useful to go with a vendor with existing customers similar to you who are likely to build relevant integrations.

Getting Buy-in

Ensuring buy-in at all levels is crucial to the programme's success. If you are planning on replacing or supplementing face-to-face training you may face resistance from existing trainers and the managers responsible for training. They may feel like their jobs are threatened or that their control is being supplanted. Nothing could be further from the truth. These trainers and their managers, understand your learners best and are in an ideal position to help ensure that the new online training material is fit for purpose. They can also provide an invaluable role assisting with leaners queries and helping with any areas they are struggling to understanding on a one-to-one basis. 

Your leaners also need to be brought on the journey with you, especially if you have ambitious plans for your programme. Some resistance from those with less technical literacy can happen so it's vital to provide those people with support, encouragement and motivation, early on and then to seek their feedback from initial pilot rollouts. 

What we’re doing about it

All of the above can be daunting. Professional associations, charities and not-for-profit organisations can’t afford to make the misstep of going down the wrong path and wasting time and money on a solution that isn’t fit for purpose.

At Intuto we’ve looked at how we can can help organisations get started with e-learning by removing any barrier to get started. We’ve come up with an offer to provide organisations with all the consultation, systems, support and content loading for up to six months at no cost and with no ongoing obligation. That's well over $5000 worth of support for free. We’ll help ensure your goals and e-learning align, map out a plan, digitise your content, support you in delivering it to your learners. We’ll even help with the evaluation process so you can present the results to your management team and board. We hope this will give organisations the support they need to try e-learning for themselves and determine if it might be the right fit for their organisation.

Apply now

If you’ve been thinking about implementing e-learning and haven’t had the resource to pursue it but you think it’s something you might benefit from now’s the time to learn more and apply.

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