In 1968, the National Education Association (NEA) established the Department of School Nurses (DSN), an association dedicated to improve the quality of school nursing, to upgrade the skills of school nurses and to further the abilities of all children to succeed in the classroom. DSN quickly established the nationwide standards for the credentialing of school nurses. In 1979, the group separated from the NEA and became the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) an organization that remains the largest association of school nurses and the hub for state affiliate associations. Per their website:
- The NASN vision is that all students are healthy, safe and ready to learn.
- The NASN mission is to optimize student health and learning by advancing the practice of school nursing.
NASN is dedicated to its membership, which includes both practical and registered nurses, and supports them by developing training and continuing education programs, an online educational and reference content library and conducting relevant research. The association’s business goals are to increase membership by better serving their membership. The most popular elements of their training and education programs are featured in their efforts to attract new members.
Training, CE, and the Search for a Platform
We recently sat with Sharon Conley, NASN’s Director of Web Operations and Member Experience, to learn and record their history with BlueSky eLearn and Path LMS. As Sharon put it,
Training and certification are the bedrock of member benefits. We take our responsibility to our constituency very seriously, and we have always put a great deal of time and effort in our programs. When we started, training was mostly in-person. We developed class workshops that could be easily duplicated by school districts. Ours was a train-the-trainer focus.
NASN’s annual conferences became hugely popular with members and beginning around 2007 they began to record their conferences sessions and make them available on a platform developed by BlueSky. From there they grew into conducting webinars, which would be pre-recorded and promoted.
Then, several needs emerged at once: the need to develop much more of their own content, the need for an online library, and the recognition that virtual training was beginning to be preferred (and was much more cost-efficient). As a result, NASN began to explore adopting its first LMS as the only way to satisfy all these needs.
About BlueSky eLearn
Founded almost 20 years ago as BlueSky Broadcast, BlueSky eLearn is dedicated to supporting and pushing the technology learning boundaries for professional organizations in the way they deliver virtual events and educational content. The company provides robust, easy-to-manage solutions that enable these organizations to organize, track and monetize educational content.
A just about the time NASN began looking for a learning management system, BlueSky was introducing Path, an LMS developed specifically for associations. NASN’s team, led by Sharon, looked at several learning platforms but decided to adopt Path. A big reason was their history with BlueSky. Also, Path would be a huge technological leap forward satisfying many of their growth needs.
NASN and Path
BlueSky and NASN had developed a strong working relationship and a high level of trust. That is why NASN began the migration even though Path was early in its development. Path offered the NASN substantially more potential
- Authoring capabilities were something NASN didn’t have before, and it was becoming an impediment. This tool made it much easier to move from concept to training - content must follow the guidelines for certification, and these are always changing, as are the medical knowledge and practices that school nurses need.
- Unlimited storage to tame their burgeoning content library and provide on-demand accessibility (and now an RSS feed).
- Mobile compatibility. It became clear that tablets and phones were rapidly becoming devices of choice and that most content would be consumed on them.
- Complete support for continuing education and certifications, assessments, surveys and evaluations.
- Dashboard and ad hoc reporting so they could see what was working and not working now, and make improvements now. And when they discussed with BlueSky their need for custom reporting around certifications and for grant funders, it was put on the development road map.
A key benefit was Path’s ability to connection to NASN’s association management system (AMS). This provides the association’s management with expanding reporting and control, enabled the association to provide any member with a transcript or history of their learning and achievement, and automated the creation of the documentation required by the national certification board.
Every onboarding has its challenges. Everyone would like adoption to be instantaneous, but it takes work. We came to trust and rely on their onboarding specialist. Incredibly, she’s still there, and if she’s hosting an event, I go. She always brings value.
Along their journey with Path, NASN added features that brought benefits to the association and to the membership
- Single sign-on for ease of entry, enhancing the learning experience.
- Ecommerce capabilities that significantly improved course registration by enabling members to enroll in several courses at the same time, without the staff’s manual intervention. It also accommodated the 2-tier pricing (members and non-members)
Then, of course, the entire world went online, all at once. Fortunately, we were already here and delivering training and continuing education to our membership.
NASN and Path’s New Horizons
Path presents NASN with several attractive growth opportunities, consistent with their association goals:
- White labeling, or custom branding to enhance the learner experience. Coupled with a custom domain, members will see one simplified destination or portal into NASN’s extensive educational capability.
- TEAMS, a new feature of Path which is, essentially, one person overseeing others. One point of contact for a team, which may be small or large, and may consist of individual nurses or other teams. For instance, the assigned contact or manager may be a city using it to bring training and content to its school districts, or an individual district with various campuses, or a school.
- Connect to online communities based on courses taken or certifications. Reach out to existing communities, create new communities, and extend the benefits of NASN.
- Expanded marketing opportunities. Untapped resources within Path will enable further marketing potential. For instance, promoting a learning path by suggesting the next course to a member, based on what they have already taken (and certification requirements).
NASN also participates in BlueSky’s Product Insiders Group – A forum for client feedback. Product designers meet with the client representatives to get their input, which in turn influences the product development roadmap. Product designers try to dig deep into what is the member association trying to accomplish, what is the right combination of features and functionality to satisfy the use case.
At the end of our conversation, we asked Sharon an important question: Would you recommend BlueSky e-Learning and Path?
I’d give them an 8 out of a 10, first of all because no one, ever, gets a 10. The other point is because it’s important that BlueSky stays on the cutting edge of learning technology. Our purpose, and our commitment to school nursing, are incredibly important. I need them to update me on what they’re looking at, where they’re going, and the importance to NASN.
The Bottom Line
The Path LMS is the cornerstone of our member training and continuing education program. We definitely appreciate Path’s ease of use. It’s easier for members because there are less clicks and navigation is intuitive. This definitely enhances the learner experience. It’s easier for us because our course authoring and storage issues are solved, and we can make our own changes on the platform. Not sure how we managed to grow before we were able to link training and certification to our AMS. Most of all, we appreciate the support from BlueSky – we have limited staff. The customer success team and the technical folks are there when we need them. Everyone wants to help. Everyone is eager to roll up their sleeves. BlueSky listens when we talk, and they are always trying to make things better. The bottom line is that our membership, satisfaction and ARPU are growing.
We're grateful for NASN for sharing its perspective on Blue Sky eLearn and Path LMS. Be sure to check out the reviews of Path LMS here on ReviewMyLMS.
by Scott Hornstein for ReviewMyLMS