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Learning Management Systems for Nonprofits – Net2van July 9 2019


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A Learning Management System (LMS) might be just the tool your organization needs to deliver your education or program content—or maybe not. Investing in an LMS is a big decision that requires ongoing resources to successfully implement and maintain. There are some key questions to ask before acquiring an LMS and best practices to follow when moving ahead with purchasing, implementing and administering an LMS.

Get the inside scoop from non-profit colleagues and non-profit learning consultants who will share their tips for success, pitfalls to avoid, and demo how they’re using this online learning technology.

What you’ll get from attending:

• Clarity on what an LMS is (and isn’t) and what it can (and can’t) do
• An eLearning terminology cheat sheet (re: the basic nuts and bolts of online learning delivery)
• An overview of some of the most common LMS options for small to medium non-profits
• Top LMS mistakes to avoid and tips for success
• LMS use case stories from a panel of 3 small to medium non-profits (why they invested in an LMS, and how they’re using it).
• Steps your organization can take right now (or later) to determine if an LMS is right for you.


Leah has 16+ years of combined experience in education working with non-profits, private companies and public authorities to develop online and classroom learning. She specializes in Learning Management System matching, configuration and workflow, systems learning and instructional design. She loves learning about new systems and tools that might shape the future of work or help non-profits streamline their operations. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Arts Council of New Westminster, and worked with Pain BC Society as a communications and education consultant and Education Lead.

Published in: Education
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Learning Management Systems for Nonprofits – Net2van July 9 2019

  1. 1. When is a LMS Right for Non Profits? And when is it not ?
  2. 2. GOALS 1. What’s an LMS? 2. Do we need one? 3. Are we ready for one? (If yes, what’s the next step?)
  3. 3. LMS EXPERTS Leah Chang Erin Melvin
  4. 4. MY 1st LMS 39.5 ft pole
  5. 5. LMS HUH? ?
  6. 6. YOUR TURN Image source:
  7. 7. eLEARNING JARGON eLearning 1 Asynchronous 2 Virtual/online 5 Web-based training (WBT) 6 Self-directed 11 Cohort/time-based Instructor-led training (ILT) 3 Classroom/in-person training 11 Cohort/time-based Blended learning 4 Mix of eLearning & classroom training Learning asset/object 7 Rich media file (video, PDF, quiz, webinar recording, etc.) that can be part of a course.
  8. 8. eLEARNING JARGON Course authoring tool 8 , 9 Storyline/Captivate Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) 10 Typical file format of a standalone eLearning courses, shareable on most LMSs
  9. 9. Source: Jodi Sansone, eLearning Heroes (Articulate Storyline Community) Source: Dominic Michael, Adobe Captivate & Presenter Examples
  10. 10. WHY DO NON- PROFITS USE AN LMS? – Increase accessibility – Low-barrier delivery of educational content – Translate knowledge – Professional development & training – Profit neutrality Image source: :
  11. 11. Internal External WHO IS AN LMS FOR? Employees Volunteers Board of directors Partner organizations General public Constituents Clients
  12. 12. LMS OPTIONS 1. Out-of-the-box 2. Open source 3. Shared
  14. 14. WHAT CAN AN LMS DO? 1. Host Content – SCORM – Learning objects / packaged courses – Question banks 2. Track & manage data – Course assignments, registrations, completions – User/group profiles, competencies
  15. 15. WHAT CAN AN LMS DO? LMS = Utilitarian tool that is part of a larger system
  16. 16. WHAT CAN’T AN LMS DO? 1. Replace your website 2. Administer itself 3. Create content* not a ...It’s a power tool
  17. 17. Common LMS Mistakes And how to avoid them
  18. 18. COMMON MISTAKES Image source: Puppy-Care-Amy-Shojai 1. Under allocating resources 2. Underestimating work 3. Unavailability during configuration or data migration 4. Missed training opportunities 5. Lack of ongoing maintenance plan or resources Be good to your LMS. Don’t “get it and forget it”.
  19. 19. COMMON MISTAKES Image source: 16999-Swiss-Knife-Giant 1. Choosing an overly robust LMS 2. Underutilizing functions 3. Paying for LMS subscription before course content is finalized 4. Not integrating the LMS with your CRM and other automated workflows Size your LMS project appropriately.
  20. 20. COMMON MISTAKES Image source: 1. Lack of expertise in-house 2. Not working with a consultant when necessary 3. Project management gaps 4. Lack of strategy or planning 5. Misunderstanding what an LMS can/can’t do 6. Missing requirements 7. No project scope or timelines— implementation drags on and on Work with a pro; you’ll save time and get a better outcome.
  21. 21. COMMON MISTAKES 1. Missed branding & communications opportunity 2. No LMS launch plan 3. No course promotions 4. Inconsistent branding or communications Image source: Leverage your marketing & communications teams. Promote.
  22. 22. COMMON MISTAKES 1. Lack of data management & governance 2. Poor organizational continuity 3. Infrequent or inconsistent use 4. Ineffective or unsustainable work practices Manage your data sustainably. Clean data is sexy.
  23. 23. LMS Myth Busters Well, sort of…
  24. 24. MYTH BUSTER 1 Image source: You don’t have to use SCORM. Alternative: • Combined learning objects can create a course
  25. 25. MYTH BUSTER 2 Image source: Maastricht University Online Library There are 1,000s of LMSs but they all do the same basic things.
  26. 26. MYTH BUSTER 3 Image source: Sam Saltis, CEO, Open source MIGHT be a horrible idea…
  27. 27. CASE STORY: 2 NON- PROFITS Learning/education mandate Similarly sized organization, staff, funding, etc. Learning objects developed and ready to deliver Learning content = general public Learning content = targeted audience Host learning objects on their website: • YouTube • Webinars (live & recorded) • PDF downloads Courses consist of/provide: • Variety of learning objects SCORM • Registration for online, blended and classroom learning • Certification/accreditation for course completion • Analytics facilitate reporting to funders NO LMS YES LMS Does my organization really need an LMS?
  28. 28. HOW READY IS YOUR ORG? Image source:
  29. 29. TYPICAL DEAL BREAKERS – Canadian data storage requirements – Privacy policy (PIPEDA, CASL, updated BC Societies Act) – Cost-benefit: # of potential users
  30. 30. 7 TAKEAWAYS FOR SUCCESS 1. Designate key admin resources 2. Get to know all your LMS functions 3. Set aside time to build, test, and maintain (leverage stakeholders, employees, users) 4. Outsource when needed: Hire a pro 5. Document as you go: Create templates for workflows to use for internal training 6. Use APIs for automation wherever feasible 7. Follow a project management framework
  31. 31. NON- PROFIT LMS “MUSTS" 1. The Administrator Experience (“AX”) is just as important as User Experience *(UX/UI) 2. Choose a vendor with quality support & training 3. Configure your LMS with your CRM & other web tools in mind
  32. 32. GRANTS – WorkBC grant for training of use of software – up to $10k/person – Arts BC Digistarts Program – Others?
  33. 33. 4 STEP VETTING PROCESS Info Gathering & Needs Analysis • Interview stakeholders, administrators, instructors, users • Create user/learner personas • Gather & script use cases Requirements Matrix • Confirm IT requirements • Create comparison chart • Begin researching vendors Vendor Demos • Longlist - sales contacts, attend group demos • Shortlist - schedule live demos • Interview other NGOs Proposal • Confirm exact costs: Year 1, Year 2+ • Write Organization Case or grants • List
  34. 34. RESOURCES • Discuss articles or use cases to start your team off with best practices • Rely on project management resources for configuration & implementation stages • Take full advantage of vendor- provided training • Become BFFs with your customer representative Image source: Success-Step-Step-Administration
  35. 35. HELP IS OUT THERE! • Ensure & measure LMS project success • Create templates for internal workflow or SOPs • Devise strategy for online course delivery • Advise or broker LMS partnerships • Use functionality creatively & build workarounds • Assist & guide regular internal audits • Troubleshoot tricky problems efficiently • Collaborate on marketing campaigns, launch plans
  36. 36. Erin K Melvin
  37. 37. GOALS 1. What’s an LMS? 2. Do we need one? 3. Are we ready for one? (If yes, what’s the next step?)
  38. 38. JOURNEY: HOW I GOT HERE – The Beginning: ESL Instructor – The Journey: Non-Profit Education Coordinator, Moodle Administrator and Course Creator – Here: Director of Client Engagement, LMS Implementation & Product Engagement for Moodle, Totara, Zoola
  39. 39. 7 THINGS I’VE LEARNED 1. Know why you are doing this 2. Take stock of your resources 3. Know your Audience, Create an Experience 4. Map the Learner’s Journey 5. Look at the Big Picture, Work in Small Chunks 6. Reporting: Who needs to know what? 7. Really want to do this
  40. 40. QUESTIONS – Questions?
  41. 41. DEMO – Moodle 3.6
  42. 42. QUESTIONS? CONNECT WITH US Leah Chang Erin Melvin