With almost 2,000 members in 50 chapters throughout the United States, The National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) is the national representative of the precision custom manufacturing industry. Dedicated to supporting the profitable growth of members in industries from aerospace to electronics and nuclear power, NTMA represents more than $40 billion in sales. Like all of the best associations and professional bodies, NTMA believes that supporting the Continuing Professional Development of members helps everyone in the organization to thrive. We spoke to Ken McCreight, Vice President of NTMA, about the changes the association has enjoyed since choosing LearnUpon as their learning management system two years ago.
Meet the association
A retired Dean of STEM, Ken McCreight was a Blackboard user and administrator for over 20 years. Since joining NTMA as Vice President, Ken has used LearnUpon’s LMS to create a nationally recognized and credentialed training program for the association.
What business challenge did NTMA need LearnUpon to address?
As a fast growing business, NTMA faced a wide range of challenges at the time we moved to LearnUpon. When a business grows quickly, different problems and opportunities demand different solutions. Without continual support, that growth can become very challenging, a nightmare, even. NTMA is always alert to the need to pursue new solutions to manage the challenges created by growth. What worked for us as a non-profit association a year ago is not always still the best approach, as our customers’ needs are constantly changing. We believe that recognizing and overcoming the common dangers associated with growth is essential as we continue to thrive. It’s also vitally important to us to ensure the steps we take today don’t in themselves create additional problems for the association in future.
All of this was especially relevant to our Learning and Development programs, which faced challenges specifically associated with expansion. NTMA is a non-profit organization that provides workforce development training to members. Within a short four year period, we moved from selling 30 training modules to selling over 1,200 modules to members this year alone. LearnUpon played a vital role in driving and supporting our expansion. The team met us via conference calls, virtual meetings, and email to continually guide us on how to maximize the opportunity as we transitioned to the successful Learning and Development programs we offer today.
We also had a number of technical requirements we needed the online learning platform to meet. At the time we moved to LearnUpon, we had over 600 educational YouTube videos we wanted to migrate. Our chosen online learning solution needed the ability to handle a range of multimedia and rich content, such as these video and MP4 files. We also needed the LMS to be able to manage students at different learning levels to match the structure of the courses we offer. Finally, we required considerable automation around features like the grading of assessments and the awarding of certificates.
Why did you decide to move from Blackboard to LearnUpon?
I had used Blackboard previously within a very different Learning and Training environment, as a Dean of STEM. My contrasting experiences with Blackboard in a college versus association organization has been instructive. While Blackboard can be very useful within environments that have a specific set of requirements, it’s not the best choice for an association like NTMA. I am well aware of the vast needs colleges can face. Blackboard has the ‘bells and whistles’ a college might need to serve multiple divisions and uses within its varied environment.
At an association level, however, many of Blackboard’s features were superfluous to our needs and actually distracted from the learning experience. I would compare it to buying a new computer that’s loaded with software we would never need to use. LearnUpon was far more equipped to meet the real needs of association users. Above all, our students needed a user-friendly system that wasn’t loaded with unnecessary features that complicated their navigation through courses – a problem we experienced with Blackboard. When I went in search of an alternative, I found that LearnUpon had all the features a student would need as well as all the features I needed to be a successful Administrator. Yet LearnUpon was only a third of the cost of Blackboard. We quickly realized that LearnUpon was the right choice and we have been very happy with our selection ever since.
How did you find LearnUpon?
As an organization, we needed to evaluate several LMS products and vendors. Finding the learning management system that best met our association’s needs was not easy. There are hundreds of LMS products available. The investment of time and cost that our association made in the search for a learning management system was significant. We took the process very seriously, as I was aware of the risk of disruption caused by selecting the wrong solution. We had experienced that ourselves by starting with Blackboard, which turned out to be a poor match for NTMA’s training needs. We found LearnUpon via a Google web search and we could not be happier with our selection.
What benefits has NTMA seen since implementing LearnUpon?
One of LearnUpon’s great strengths as a learning management platform is their support team. The way they respond almost instantly helps us to manage the administration, delivery, tracking and reporting of our online classes very effectively. LearnUpon’s features have also proven highly beneficial for us. Automation is very important, for example. We now enjoy the ability to issue certificates that identify a student’s grade upon successful completion of a module or course. Automation minimizes time-consuming manual work, saving countless hours in resourcing. LearnUpon also enables us to organize different content for a range of learner audiences. And LearnUpon’s LMS provides data and reports on learner behavior and performance that helps us to measure results and forecast demand for future modules in the next semester. All of these features and benefits help make our Learning and Development processes far more efficient and successful than they were before we moved to LearnUpon.
Why would you recommend LearnUpon over other LMSes?
I have to say I could not be happier. LearnUpon’s customer support is outstanding – prompt and very comprehensive. The cost and value of the learning management system is unbeatable – less than a third of the cost of Blackboard, as I mentioned. More importantly, the ease of use for both students and administrators is unmatched by any other LMS. My students enjoy the ease of navigating the coursework – and there is so much more! I can’t say enough about how LearnUpon is exceeding everything that I had hoped for.
Try LearnUpon for yourself.