It’s that time of year again—annual planning. With October almost over, we’re on the downhill coast (or breakneck race…depending on your organization) to the end of 2015. With a new year comes new resolutions, new plans and new budgets, and updating your online continuing education should be an important initiative. Now is the time to start preparing to ensure your plan covers these critical components.
The world of online learning is ever-changing so preparation involves lots of things. It means knowing what you want and need, knowing what the logical next steps are, what is available in the market, what’s new in the market, and finally, how to convince your organization to make the change you want. Let’s start with a review of current trends that will set the standards for the upcoming year. Just as car manufacturers come out with updated models that raise the bar on what is “standard”, LMS systems undergo continual development and what was an add-on or expensive upgrade a year or two ago is now considered standard and essential.
The first “new” standard that jumps out is mobile capabilities. You can’t read anything in the world of CE without hearing about Mobile Learning or m-learning. The ability for learners to access educational content on a wide variety of devices is now expected and commonplace. So as you evaluate your current LMS, or consider upgrading, look at the platform’s mobile capabilities. While most platforms can deliver content on a variety of devices, not many have invested in optimizing the browsing and purchasing experience for the mobile environment. Ask if the platform recognizes whether a learner is on a computer or handheld device and adjust the view accordingly (dynamically resize content to the screen, use mobile-friendly menus etc.). A mobile-friendly catalog not only ensures happier learners, but also ensures that your site shows up on a Google search from a mobile device. With Google prioritizing mobile friendly content on searches from a mobile device, you run the risk of learners never even finding your educational catalog if your don’t have a mobile-friendly site. No wonder mobile capabilities are now an industry “standard”!
Another hot topic in 2015 was accessibility. What does accessibility mean? It means that a site contains code that assistive devices can leverage to help individuals with visual, auditory or other impairments access the site and its information. For some states, such as California, web accessibility is now mandatory, leading many thought leaders in the world of technology to predict that web accessibility requirements will only continue to grow in the future. Why should you care? First, there’s the good business practice of ensuring your educational content is applicable to as wide an audience as possible. Also, when you pick your LMS provider you are looking for a long-term partner and generally enter into a long-term contract. You don’t want to get mid-way through that contract and find out that your LMS provider can’t meet the accessibility requirements your learners (and possibly your government) require.
LEVERAGE EXISTING CONTENT
As you think about changes you would like to make in 2016, consider your content. Most of us are always tempted to do more, and that can be a great goal. But when it comes to creating content, “doing more” usually translates into “creating more content” which can often be a challenge. So as you consider 2016, you might want to consider doing more with existing content. If you offer in-person events you might consider recording certain sessions and then turning them into on-demand content or replaying them at a later date will allow you to generate additional revenue long after your event is over.
Seeing what’s new in the market is just the beginning of your 2016 planning. Next, you need buy-in across your organization, and we’ll tackle that important topic in next week’s blog post. Stay tuned!