eLearning Part II: What to look for when choosing your platform

Choosing your eLearning system can be tricky and time-consuming. To avoid being seduced by functionalities you will never use, you need to be clear on the set of requirements for the system. Think of it as making a shopping list before you go to the grocery store and sticking to it.

Learning Management Systems (LMS) are web-based frameworks that handle all aspects of the learning process, from registration and administration to resource management, content delivery, and reporting and certification management. The right platform for your programme will include all the functionalities you need and at the same time, will meet your budget limitations. If you read our latest blog post on what to consider when designing your eLearning programme, then you know that asking the right questions will get you the right solution.

Let’s run you through the key points to consider when choosing your platform.

Content

Your eLearning platform starts with its content. First, ask yourself whether you are capable of taking care of the recording, post-production (editing) and publishing yourself. If you aren’t, opt for a vendor who can take care of this for you.

Secondly, think about where and how the content should be recorded:

  • Recording conference sessions: A cost-efficient way to provide content for your eLearning programme is to record sessions at a conference or congress you are already organising. You and your colleagues already put a lot of work into finding the right topics and speakers, the presentation slides and talks are ready so why not take advantage of this? At Open Slide & Services we record the presentations at your conference – whether it is in one room or in 30 parallel rooms.
  • Recording content in a studio: Content for the eLearning platform is captured in a studio.
  • A ‘hybrid’ solution: A mix of recorded conference presentations and captured videos such as f.e. an introduction video, a panel discussion or interviews with experts.

Thirdly, contemplate whether you want to publish the presentation with or without a video capture of the speaker.

Course structure and key functionalities

Depending on how much content your course will provide, you probably need a well-structured platform which allows you to create different sessions, with each session containing a range of different presentations. Apart from that, you might want to opt for the following functionalities:

  • Structuring the content into compulsory and optional modules;
  • Fast-forwarding and whether this can be disabled;
  • Resuming presentations when a participant left the presentation mid-course and the ability to start over;
  • The ability to quiz participants.

Progress tracking and certification

In most cases, you will need to reward the participants with a certification at the end of the course. Many LMSs offer the possibility to track participant progress, with the possibility to automatically generate certificates upon course completion. Ask the vendor whether the platform will automatically send out a reminder to participants when the deadline for course completion is coming close.

For participants, tracking their own progress is important as well, we suggest providing participators access to a practical progress overview 1) of the complete course, 2) per session, 3) per presentation.

Back office

Apart from the initial set-up of the platform, you may want to take into account the level of access you want as an administrator. Do you want to be able to take care of creating new modules and uploading new course content yourself or do you prefer to look for a vendor who will provide these services for you? Decide on whether lessons are added only once, on a regular basis or ad hoc.

Usability

It’s important to keep in mind who the target group is: design the eLearning platform so your beneficiaries are confident using it. Even without conducting complex usability studies, you can work to improve user experience and thus increase the programme’s efficiency:

  • Ensure the platform is accessible in browsers and on types of devices your target group is most likely to use;
  • Avoid complicated platforms, keep it easy to navigate;
  • Provide easy and intuitive access to the information available;
  • Avoid unnecessary features.

Pre-launch tip: Get a colleague – who is not involved in the eLearning programme – to test the platform. Was following a course easy? Did any of the features confuse them? Were they able to find all the information they wanted?

Administrative and helpdesk support

Opt for a vendor who will take care of the registration of participants – including the sending of an introduction email – and helpdesk support for your participants. This allows you to decrease your administrative tasks and will make your life easier when it comes to enrolling participants in your eLearning programme.

This blog post is brought to you by Mieke Barbé by Open Slide & Services

eLearning Part I: What to consider when designing your programme

The online learning experience has deeply changed during the last few years, with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) at the forefront of making knowledge sharing and lifelong learning more accessible and more attractive. More and more organisations are using the available technology to deliver (low-cost) remote learning programs for employees or association members, but how do you get started yourself?

Creating an eLearning programme for your staff or members is a challenge: the variety of models, platforms and the different features that come with each platform can be overwhelming. No need to fear that the information coming at you will mean that you will not see the wood for the trees, if you consider the most important components of a learning programme you will find your way to a tailored solution.

One of our MPI Belgium members outlined four components to consider when designing your eLearning programme: the broad aim, target group, content plan & budget for your eLearning programme. Only after deciding upon these you should start looking at the platforms and features available.

What is the broad aim of your eLearning programme?

The most important component of outlining your eLearning programme is to understand what the broad aim of the courses is. Write out your overall goal, and individual objectives for each (sub)course. Keep in mind your content needs to be relevant and interesting to your target group!

  • Do you want to provide adequate knowledge about a certain procedure and provide certificates for those completing the course?
  • Do you want to provide knowledge about a certain products so that your sales persons can effectively address prospects?

Who are the target audience of the course?

Define your target audience and what it is they should be taking away from completing the course, also think about the technical skills of your target group.

  • Who would be taking the course?
  • What is the knowledge gained from participating in the course?
  • Why will your target audience participate, do you need to provide them with a certificate or license?
  • Does the target group need self-paced courses, taken whenever suits them best?
  • Are eLearning targets equipped with the technical skills for the eLearning programme, and what level of skills do they have?

What content should be shared and in which form?

Have a brainstorm session on what type of content should be shared, how many courses should be created and what the eLearning delivery format for each lesson should be.

Some example questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the content we want to base our programme on? Are we talking about recording speeches and presentations during already existing events (such as a conference or annual meeting presentations) and translating them to an online course? Or are we looking at recording content in a studio?
  • Should the courses be interactive?
  • Do we require compulsory and optional modules?
  • Should content be unlocked gradually or accessible all at once?

What is the budget in place?

Budgets are important in every aspects of your organisation, for your eLearning programme you should ask yourself:

  • How much budget do I want to spend on the IT infrastructure (platform and features)?
  • How much budget should be set apart to create the courseware?

This blog post is brought to you by Mieke Barbé by Open Slide & Services

Meeting the needs of allergic event participants

The recent European allergen law forces our sector to inform guests about the presence of allergens in dishes. As MICE professionals we need to comply with these regulations, and as an industry committed to provide excellent experiences we need to learn how to be smart about managing food at events.

Food allergies and intolerances are only getting more common, and we are also seeing an increase in other dietary requests – medical, cultural, religious, or philosophical related. If you understand the various needs, learn the similarities between diets and know how to prepare meals safely, you can learn how to better manage this extra layer of complexity.

Here are a few tips on how to improve your guest satisfaction without losing your mind.

1) Ask in advance

Use your registration software to ask attendees about their dietary needs well in advance of your event. Streamline the process by asking everyone the same information – this includes the speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and staff – and send the dietary requirements to your caterer by simply exporting the information from your registration system. Be specific when asking for dietary requirements (allergic, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, halal, kosher and more) and ask to specify allergies.

2) Choose the right catering partner

If you decided to ask your attendees for dietary requirements, make sure your catering partner(s) are familiar with creating menus that fit different dietary needs prior to signing a contract.

3) Communicate

Acknowledge you received attendees’ information and explain to them how their needs will be met at the event. Will they receive a special meal voucher, will buffets be labelled or should they contact the caterer on-site?

Take the time to discuss with catering partners how the needs of attendees will be addressed, how to provide last-minute options and how attendees will be communicated with.

4) Think outside of the box and provide alternatives

  • Provide a lunch box with pre-packaged food (as seen on eg. planes).
  • Try to see whether nearby restaurants/shops can accommodate your attendees and provide them with a list of placed they can eat when they check in at the event.
  • Provide an all-day available corner with non-processed items such as fruit, nuts …

Other resources

This post was written for the MPI in Europe blog.

Convince your boss that you need to be at EMEC 2015

i Jan 12th No Comments by

We want to make the approval process of attending MPI’s European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC) worry-free. If you need to justify the expense to your supervisors, we’ve provided a few tools to help you build your case: a benefits worksheet, a budget worksheet and a sample letter.

  

When submitting a proposal to your boss, remember to focus on the specific skills and knowledge experiences you can immediately bring back to the organization. Consider learning new industry best practices, making new contacts and gaining new insights and ideas from the education sessions you attend.

Build Your Education Session List

After you’ve clearly outlined the connection between the needs of your organization or department with the benefits of attending EMEC, you can focus on yourself. Build your personalized list of education sessions that have relevance to your current job description and review how the sessions will enable you to better serve your customers. When you’ve built your session list, print it and include it with your Justification Kit.

Proving you can put the knowledge gained at EMEC immediately into action makes it easier for your supervisor to say “You’re approved to attend EMEC!” So build your session list, download the justification kit, customize your letter and we’ll see you in Krakow!

Jumping into the New Year with a focus on our members

i Jan 7th No Comments by

2014 Wrap Up

We wrapped up 2014 with two successful ‘Get Togethers‘ – a relaxed networking format focussing people and a good time – and will be repeated in 2015 (RSVP for the 20 January edition). Our most recent educational “Food awareness in the MICE industry” was held the 11th of December at the beautiful Antwerp City Hall. Participants learnt about the new European allergen law (EU FIC) and how it affects us as MICE professionals. We have published a white paper “Managing Food Restrictions in the MICE Industry”, more tools and resources – such as webcasts – can be found here.

Jumping into the New Year with a focus on our members

In the last few weeks, we have also spent a considerable amount of time working on our goals and actions for 2015 and decided that this year we’re focusing on YOU, members and engagers. The board is making it a priority to really get to know all of our members so we can inspire them and help them to branch out and meet the right people. Aside from our current members we’ll also focus growing our base.

Twenty years of MPI Belgium

This year will mark the 20th anniversary of our Belgium Chapter so we will invite you all to come and celebrate with us! Just as in 1995, we continue to provide a space where MICE professionals can socialise and engage; but also one which inspires, provides future career prospects and insights in the profession.

BE Conference “It’s all about you”

Our third annual BE conference is taking place in June 24th in Brussels, the theme “It’s all about you”. We’re happy to announce a partnership with New Balls Please, an all-round agency that provides new and fresh concepts for clients with “balls” and clients who dare to change. A few months ago they won a Silver Award at the EuBEA Festival, another reason to be excited about the BE Conf!

Last but not least we want to thank you for having been a part of our chapter the past year(s) and hope you’ll continue to join us in 2015!

Educational “Food awareness in the MICE industry”:
Catching up with the new food regulations & latest food trends.

i Nov 2nd No Comments by

The educational took place on 11 December 2014 at the beautiful city hall of Antwerp, Belgium.
Event planners, caterers, hotel/venue sales, F&B managers and interested corporate participants enjoyed a spectacular day full of practiced theory, delicious food and unique networking opportunities!

 

MPI & DoubleDutch Event App Study

i Oct 20th No Comments by

In May 2014, MPI teamed up with DoubleDutch to survey nearly 1,800 members of their organization about how they’ve adopted mobile applications as part of their overall event strategy. The results of the following survey consist of responses from 382 meeting professionals across various industries, with a wide breadth of tenure in their fields. Respondents included 38 percent meeting management professional planners and 33 percent corporate meeting professionals.

A few key take-aways:

  • 63 percent of planners are already using event apps and 85 percent expect to use them in the next six to 12 months.
  • 71 percent of association NGO meeting professionals are using an event app to engage members. They have the largest percentage of adopters.
  • In-app sponsorship opportunities are huge revenue drivers for trade show organizers
  • Mobile event apps are used primarily to improve the event experience
  • Planners can update event information on the fly and notify attendees of those changes immediately
  • Mobile event apps give organizers the ability to identify the most influential attendees, project retention and increase revenue
  • Through mobile engagement comes powerful data, which can be used to demonstrate event success

The report aims to provide a better understanding of how and why meeting professionals currently use mobile event applications, what results they expect, and how they intend to use them in the future. The full report covers the full spectrum of event apps, including best practices, trend data to predict future development and more.

Last but not least, the report concludes with a helpful quiz to assist meeting professionals determine the best app for an event!

Click here to read the report.

Newsflash: Article Gelderland – MPI Belgium Partnership

i Sep 7th No Comments by

An article about our partner appeared Gelderland Convention Bureau appeared in Meeting Magazine from the Netherlands. Read about food & health in Gelderland and the opportunities the Belgian market offers.

Read the article