In a previous blog post I shared my tips for making an initial pitch for online learning to your association’s board of directors. How’d it go? Are you ready to move on to the “exploration phase” of your quest to implement online learning at your association?
As promised, in this follow-up post I will prepare you for your final meeting with the board and share tips for sealing the deal to move forward with online member education. In your initial meeting with the board the objective was simply to gain their approval for exploring eLearning, preparing a budget, and contacting vendors for information and demos.
Now that you’ve done your homework, researched the various options for learning management technology and course production and authoring, it’s time to share your vision for eLearning at your association and gain the board’s final approval to move forward with selecting your LMS and building courses.
If your organization has never offered any form of online education and training, such as webinars, it’s best to start small. The eLearning industry is incredibly advanced and has grown to include very innovative technology and methodologies such as immersive 3D learning environments and multi-player learning games. Although there is a case to be made for game-based learning and it is proven to be very successful in certain situations, it’s best to set realistic and attainable goals for your first online member education offerings. Rather than going “all out” on your first eLearning course, look to cost effective authoring tools or vendors who can help create visually appealing, interactive content – without breaking the budget. Present the board with no more than 3 potential learning management system options and 1-2 authoring tools or custom eLearning content development companies to choose from.
It also helps to have a recommendation for your LMS and preferred method of course production prepared. In most cases, you will have become the “eLearning expert” during this process and know the pros and cons for each option better than anyone.
Give it appeal
“Visual aids” go a long way with just about any audience; your board wants to see what they’re considering. If time permits, arrange for abbreviated demos of your LMS options. You can either request that the LMS provider present to the board; share a clip from a previously recorded demo; or do your own demo of the platform with permission from the LMS provider (either with a “sandbox” account or with screen captures). If you can, distribute product datasheets, company profiles, and case studies during your presentation as well – give your board all the information they need to make an educated decision.
Throughout your presentation, do your best to stay focused on the member needs and overall mission of this initiative. Online learning can create or grow a community of learners, so don’t get distracted by personal ideals on either end. When board members and staff use “I” and “we” phrases it’s easy to lose focus of who the real stakeholders are. Be sure you are consistently referencing the community’s learning preferences instead of your own, and encouraging your board to do the same.
Like with every board meeting, be sure there are clear action items. If a decision is not made on the spot, be sure there is a clear understanding of what information is needed to complete the process and a timeline for when the decision will be made. It’s very easy to get sidetracked or to let deadlines slip when making such a big decision for your association; do your best to stick to your schedule and steer the board towards the finish line. Remember, you’ve already conducted the research and convinced your board that members want and need eLearning, now it’s just a matter of executing the plan.
These reminders can help pave the way for a swift final decision from your board and successful implementation of your new online learning program. Keeping an objective approach and an open perspective is important as well. Have you ever made the case for eLearning to your association’s board? What worked for you and what didn’t? Comment below and let me know!
A relative newbie to the eLearning scene, Sarah is no stranger to the association and non-profit world. Before joining the “dark side,” Sarah served as a marketing and communications specialist at various organizations including the American Lung Association and the Association of Corporate Contribution Professionals. Today, Sarah serves as Digitec’s Digital Marketing Coordinator or “SM Queen” for short. In her new role, Sarah enjoys blogging, tweeting and sharing membership engagement tips for association professionals. Sarah earned certificates in non-profit and volunteer management as well as a B.A. in media and communications from Rollins College in Winter Park, FL.
Spirit animal: Lion
Comfort object: Sunglasses
Personal vice: #longhashtags ;)
Useless talent: Can fall asleep in seconds
Unreasonable paranoia: Tsunamis
Wishes more people cared about: Recycling and the environment