Why Learning Credits Should be a Key Feature of Your LMS Caroline Lawless Published on November 5, 2015 If you manage the delivery of training and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) within an association, you'll know that learning credits can be essential to the success of members. Providing learning credits can create structure, meaning and professional recognition for programs that really incentivize and reward the efforts of participants. Association members are also likely to consider integration with industry standards an essential element of the service you provide. But not all learning management systems are equally equipped to handle the range of internal and external credits your members may require. Read this guide to consider the key features your online learning platform should include to make managing CPD as simple as possible for all learners in your association or professional body. Manage all learning credits together An LMS that can only manage a limited range of learning credits is of little use to associations. The support of successful members demands a learning platform with the ability to fully integrate with all standardized credits, including CPD, CEUs and CMEs. Your association's learning and development programs do not exist in isolation. To truly deliver value, they must have the capacity to fully integrate with members' external training programs to form one cohesive learning experience. What this means in the most practical sense, is that learners should be able to track the progress of all learning credits when they login to your association's LMS. The alternative scenario in which members can only manage a portion of their credits risks creating a fragmented experience that undermines learner confidence and growth. Your online learning platform should also allow you to narrow the range of credits offered, so that learners are not confused by those irrelevant to their professional development. If your LMS is appropriately flexible, you will be able to choose exactly which credits to support and issue through your programs. The ideal solution offers an open credit system that integrates with industry standards yet remains fully customizable by your admininstrators. The most flexible learning management systems, like LearnUpon, enable users to track internal and external credits, awarded both within and beyond the LMS. LearnUpon, for example, allows users to manage all external learning credits, including CPD, CEU, CME and CLE, and avoids the need for intervention by a support team or administrator. Credits for all learning activities The need for flexibility extends beyond the types of learning credits supported. An effective LMS must also be able to award any number of credits to the full range of potential courses. It's crucial that your learning management system can recognize and reward both online and offline learning. Your training and development programs may assess performance on quizzes and assessments delivered within the LMS itself. But you may also need to assign credits to other kinds of activities - the reading of technical journals or other industry publications, attendance at mandatory events, or the submission of notes or reflections on an annual basis. Not all learning management systems are able to offer the requisite level of flexibility, so it's important to ask these questions early in the process. In LearnUpon, each course dynamically displays a list of credit options that can be easily implemented with a few clicks. To properly assess this requirement, you will need to explore the related features of your chosen LMS. Depending on the structure of your learning and training programs, you may need to ensure that the learning platform includes features like ILT functionality or is compatible with Tin Can API (xAPI) technology. The most flexible learning solutions will allow you to issue credits in the desired format for a full range of behaviors and activities, from the completion of online and classroom-based courses to reading relevant materials and attending conferences. Automated features For associations, in particular, the ability to award credits and certificates automatically on the successful completion of courses can be essential. Ken McCreight, Vice President of NTMA, described LearnUpon's automation functionality as one of the key reasons the association switched from Blackboard to our LMS. Automation removes resource-intensive manual interventions from managing learning credits for your members. An LMS with this level of functionality will automatically award learners who successfully complete a course with a certificate which they can download, save or print. You will also need to ensure that the automation features of the LMS are themselves flexible, able to link the awarding of credits and certificates with all courses, certification programs, Learning Paths, and events. If branding is important to your association, you should ensure that the LMS will allow you to customize certificates awarded. With LearnUpon, for example, you can import existing certificates into the platform, and link them to whichever course or path is most relevant. This feature also makes it easy to edit certificate design and layout, tailoring the inclusion of dynamic data variables, such as first name, last name, course title, score achieved, completion date, as well as the type and number of learning credits awarded. The ability to effectively manage learning credits is one of the key features most associations require from a learning management system. If external training obligations matter to your members, you should align your offerings to create the most seamless experience possible. But not all learning platforms have been developed with the specific needs of associations in mind. The ability to effectively manage learning credits is an area where some fail to perform. This oversight is why LearnUpon built an LMS specifically to provide a scalable solution for the training challenges of association management. Common learning credits explained CPD: Continuing Professional Development describes the lifelong learning of those active in the professions. Most CPD programs are designed to help professionals stay up-to-date with developments in their field after tertiary or postgraduate training has concluded. Also known as Continuing Professional Education (CPE), CPD is the means by which professionals maintain their knowledge and skills throughout their working lives. CPD obligations are common in many professions and can include a broad range of activities, including formal, informal, structured and self-directed learning approaches. CEU: A Continuing Education Unit or Continuing Education Credit (CEC) is a measure frequently used in the administration of CPDs for licensed professions, including architects, engineers, educators, health professionals and social workers. Professionals in these fields are sometimes obliged to complete a set number of CEUs to retain or renew their license. A CEU usually equals 10 hours of participation in a recognized Continuing Education Program. CEU records are very important in highly regulated fields and kept as evidence of completion of mandatory training required by certification bodies or governmental licensing boards. CME: Continuing Medical Education describes the form of continuing professional education specific to those who work in medical fields. Activities involved can include attending events, reading publications, or participating in online training programs. CLE: Continuing Legal Education can also be known as Mandatory or Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE). Both terms describe the lifelong professional education of lawyers that takes place in the years after passing the bar. In a number of US states, participation in CLE is mandatory for attorneys to retain their license to practice.