When the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) started out on its online learning journey, it had a nine-month plan. The association had a detailed project plan drawn up and was planning to roll out its new online platform, IGNITE, at its annual conference.
But when COVID-19 hit, CHIME had to find a way to accelerate the release of IGNITE in a big way—moving it up from nine months to two weeks—to provide vital support to the healthcare sector in the earliest days of the crisis. “We had organized so many face-to-face programs, and people had already registered for them,” says Dr. Jenelle Hodges, Director of Digital Learning. “We realized we can’t just stop educating. Right now is when the healthcare sector needs us most. We had to come up with a solution, fast.”
We had the opportunity to talk to Jenelle and Dr. Tim Stettheimer, Vice President of Education, about how they were able to deliver on a rapid launch and where they see IGNITE going in the future.
3 Tactics CHIME Used to Ramp Up—Fast
1. Focus on the Quick Wins
Scope creep can be a concern for any project. Yet, with CHIME’s ambitious goals and narrowed timelines, the margins for error were even smaller. One of the first things the association had to do was reevaluate its initial road map to identify the elements and content it needed to make available online immediately.
“Our nine-month plan was to unveil IGNITE—replete with a variety of educational opportunities ranging from self-paced courses to cohort-based programs—at our annual conference,” says Tim. “In two weeks, we had to sprint to a place where we could make the platform available to members and subscribers. Rather than trying to populate every channel of education, we focused on getting it launched with useful content, and building from there.”
2. Build and Release Iteratively
CHIME’s agile response to launching IGNITE has in some ways been a silver lining for the association. “This approach, making sure we were continually launching new content and learning opportunities, was an approach we had always intended to take,” explains Tim. Even for full-length courses, CHIME has been able to pilot programs and solicit incredibly useful feedback.
One such program CHIME launched ahead of schedule was its first-ever digital bootcamp, the virtual version of an on-location program that had been popular with members for almost 20 years. “It was spectacularly successful,” says Tim, reflecting on how the revamped offering was received. “We had great feedback from our first graduates. Not only have we now made our way through the second iteration of the bootcamp; we’ve added two other types of bootcamps for different types of members.”
3. Get Expert Support
In the early days of a project, it can be helpful to work with someone who’s done it before and is familiar with the process and requirements. This is especially important for rapid timelines.
One of the first things CHIME was able to do was work in consultation with D2L to reimagine its original road map to something that could be effectively implemented in weeks instead of months and delivered on an iterative, ongoing basis.
The other beneficial resource CHIME was able to leverage was D2L’s Learning & Creative Services team.
“With our initial plan, I was hesitant to engage Learning & Creative Services, because we have great designers in our own team,” says Jenelle. “But the two-week runway changed my mind! Once we started working with the D2L designers, it was so seamless and so amazing. Together, we came up with a launch plan, working out what we needed to get off the ground and what we could roll out in later iterations.”
In addition to augmenting CHIME’s in-house instructional design experts, D2L’s Learning & Creative Services offered critical support by delivering some of the more technically complex aspects, such as using the platform’s Intelligent Agents functionality to manage learners’ subscriptions and remind them automatically when they are due for renewal.
Tim reflects, “Launching the platform in two weeks was something that neither our members nor the leadership within CHIME thought was possible. And we couldn’t have done it without our team and D2L. It was an amazing effort, and one that succeeded far beyond what we expected.”
What’s Next for CHIME and IGNITE
Continuing to build its digital learning programs is all part of CHIME’s larger goal—reaching more healthcare professionals than ever before.
Jenelle reflects, “The big questions were: In between our forums and conferences, how do we continue educating? How do we reach the 80% of our membership who may not be able to attend our events in person? And how do we reach out to the next generation of people who will become members in the future?”
“We shouldn’t think ‘this is a stopgap until we can get back to in-person learning,’ and any organization that focuses solely on one or the other is losing something,” says Tim. “The richness of having on-ground and online options available for learners is what we’re looking toward. It’s critical for us as educators and leaders to see this as a valuable and significant opportunity moving forward.”