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Sport associations: Add value for members with an LMS

  • 5 Min Read

Sport associations represent their respective sport, often on an international stage, providing governance and promoting the interests of clubs, players, members and the sport as a whole. For many, an important part of the remit is training coaches, umpires, referees and others so they can officiate consistently and confidently. Training for members must be up to date, engaging and easy to access. As sport associations embrace the digital age and supplement face-to-face training with online classes, a learning management system (LMS) can provide a solution for convenient and interactive member training.

An LMS can transform member learning, helping sport associations to have a bigger impact on the sporting industry or profession and supporting members in attaining coaching and umpiring certifications. A personalised LMS can increase learner engagement and therefore accreditations and smooth the way for more member enrolments and a higher level of training uptake.

The learning challenges sport associations face

Without accredited officials, competitive sport grinds to a halt. Sport associations toil to generate a steady pipeline of trained officials. For some sports, including football in the UK, this endeavour was hampered by the impact of COVID-19 on training programmes.

Course delivery was especially difficult during pandemic restrictions. Yet even at the best of times, trainers (some of whom may be volunteers) might be called upon to travel long distances to deliver courses. Members too are required to make those journeys, often at weekends, incurring costs and impacting their family lives.

Face-to-face training restricts the number of members who can attend a course at any one time. The challenge for sport associations is to harness the knowledge and experience of trainers through learning experiences that can reach a broad membership base where those members are and when it suits them.

Added to this, sport associations want all members’ interactions, including those for training, to be consistent and seamless. That means making all information available in one place where members can book and pay for training and events, manage their membership, and keep up to date with association news. This is usually through a website and member portal where all activities must integrate seamlessly to provide members the kind of online experience they expect.

A final learning challenge for sport associations is to track and measure training delivery, progress and outcomes. It is important to provide a clear view of past, present and future training so the association can plan and make informed decisions about any changes to learning strategy or delivery.

What is an LMS?

An LMS is a platform designed specifically to deliver learning experiences. It’s a one-stop shop for course content, learning tuition, learner/tutor and peer interactions, and course management. It also allows learners to manage their entire continuing development through a single online learning platform.

An LMS enables sport associations to bridge the divide between the training and coaching delivered in person and the learning that can be done online. It provides a complete learning environment where members can access materials, connect to online resources and enjoy an experience enhanced by multimedia and social tools.

Particularly at this time, a big benefit is that an LMS can connect members to learning wherever they are and through whichever online device they use. On the platform, members can keep track of their learning progress, and through it, associations can monitor training roll-out and measure results.

Find out how the Irish Rugby Football Union rethought the way rugby is taught and learned in Ireland >>

Why the LMS is the must-have online learning tool

An LMS can help sport associations:

1. Increase training uptake

Through an LMS, sport associations can transform digital learning to reach more members. Anyone can tune in from anywhere, on any device, giving associations an easier way to reach more members and increase training uptake. With the right course design, the LMS can upscale training attendance. Traditional learning is usually scaled to 20 to 30 people, but when learning that can be done remotely is taken online, more members can get involved.

2. Boost membership

Training is a big draw for many would-be members. The availability and quality of the coaching offered can be a big factor for the next generation of members. Therefore, it’s important for sport associations to meet the expectations of their future members who are used to interacting with organisations digitally. For sport associations with an international reach, the ability to access training and coaching from anywhere can boost membership.

3. Support volunteers

Volunteer trainers can be hard to come by when they have to travel to deliver coaching. Coaches may have to balance training responsibilities alongside busy professional schedules, something the Canadian Sport Institute looked to address by empowering coaches with modern learning experiences. A learning environment that delivers the best of online and in-person tuition can help trainers fulfil their roles and sport associations recruit the next generation of coaches.

4. Reduce members’ cost of learning

This approach can help members achieve the right balance in their cost of learning too. Traditionally, the members who mainly benefited from learning were those who had the time and money to travel to coaching sessions, conferences and more. Online learning levels the playing field.

5. Improve learner engagement

People join sport associations because they have a genuine interest in the sport. Therefore, they want to learn and engage with the content they can access. An LMS can help here by providing a personalised experience to increase learner engagement and optimise learner outcomes. There’s plenty of support to help organisations get the most from an LMS. Take a look at our tips to help engage every member.

6. Integrate learning delivery

Sport associations will want an LMS that can integrate with their other systems so that members only need to log in once to gain seamless access to everything they need, including training. If they have to use multiple systems to do what they need to do or if they have a bad experience, member retention is likely to be affected.

A seamless experience works both ways. Staff also need simple access and everything in one place so that accreditation records and payments, for example, are kept up to date.

7. Provide digital certifications

A digital training record is ideal in today’s world where people display their achievements through multiple online platforms. Through the LMS, trainers and coaches can give and record feedback and give awards to learners to mark their achievements.

8. Track and report on training

A single digital learning environment is the ideal way to keep track of training, measure outcomes, and generate and access reports. Data analytics through the LMS can provide real, actionable insights into training programmes for continuous ongoing improvements.

The way ahead

A personalised LMS is a valuable tool for sport associations striving to increase members’ learning engagement and provide clear learning pathways to certification. It helps associations take learning online, when it can be done, to minimise the need for travel and save costs for members and trainers. When training still has a face-to-face element, the LMS provides a single, cohesive environment where members can manage their learning journeys and access information in one place and where trainers and staff can co-ordinate learning programmes.

For more on the online learning solutions that associations like yours need in order to thrive, discover D2L Brightspace for associations. Why not book a demo of Brightspace to learn more?

You can also find out how to attract a new generation of members from our ebook. Lastly, explore our blog series on online learning readiness for membership associations, which introduces the association’s journey quiz to help guide you through the specifics to consider at each stage of the learning journey.

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