Supporting nonprofit success.

Nonprofit Technology Network teaches nonprofits how to leverage technology to better serve their communities.

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Established

2000


Employees: 14

Learners: More than 300
Portland, Oregon

www.nten.org

95%

Improvement in course completion rates

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Objectives

Provide nonprofits with interactive learning experiences that increase engagement with material

Avoid disjointed online learning experiences by bringing all materials into one consistent package

Encourage learners to continue lessons, even if they miss a week or two of instruction

Create learning courses quickly and efficiently

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Results

Improved course completion rate by 95%

Created a consistent learning experience

Engaged learners with interactive webinars

Exceptional support from Adobe


“We evaluated each solution separately and the Adobe products stood out as the best choice that combined functionality with flexibility.”

 
Ash Shepherd

Education Director, NTEN


Helping nonprofits meet their missions 

There are numerous ways that nonprofits can use technology to better serve their communities. They can use websites and video to educate people about their mission, reach donors and volunteers with email campaigns, and advertise engaging in-person events. But many nonprofits lack the budgets to hire teams with this expertise, so they must learn to leverage the power of technology by themselves.

 

That’s where Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) steps in. NTEN is a nonprofit with the mission of helping other nonprofits figure out how to use technology to achieve their missions more effectively. NTEN works with nonprofits not just in the United States, but in English-speaking communities around the world.

 

“NTEN functions on the three pillars of learn, connect, and change,” says Ash Shepherd, Education Director at NTEN. “First, we help nonprofits learn the skills that they need. Using these skills, nonprofits can better connect with others in the community and use those connections to make a positive change.”

Improving online education

NTEN uses a mix of educational opportunities that include conferences, training sessions, and online education. While online courses can reach a far greater number of learners, NTEN felt that the experience was disjointed and unengaging. Learners would passively watch a webinar, log onto a forum to connect with fellow learners, and click a separate link to find homework assignments. Due to the lack of engagement and community, learners who missed one session of the 10-week course often chose not to come back, resulting in drop-off rates of up to 50%.

 

“We started looking at learning management systems (LMS) that would allow us to offer a more interactive and polished online education,” says Shepherd. “Finding the right LMS for us was an important decision. It affects content, workflows, and user experiences, so we needed something that would grow with us for years.”

 

Many LMSs that Shepherd looked at were closed systems that locked users into specific content creation workflows or focused on delivering training for internal customers. To reach learners at nonprofits worldwide, NTEN needed an LMS that was more flexible, while still delivering consistent and easy learner experiences.

 

“We decided to deliver courses with the Adobe Learning Manager, connected with Adobe Captivate for authoring and Adobe Connect for webinars,” says Shepherd. “We evaluated each solution separately and the Adobe products stood out as the best choice that combined functionality with flexibility.”


“With the Fluidic Player, everything takes place in one space, whether it’s a PDF, video, or interactive quiz. It truly feels like a single learner experience.”

 
Ash Shepherd

Education Director, NTEN


Reaching learners worldwide

Shepherd was initially attracted to the Adobe Learning Manager LMS for its clean and polished interface, which gives both users and administrators a great experience. He ultimately chose Learning Manager for its excellent functionality and flexibility. “Adobe Learning Manager doesn’t force us into specific learning molds,” says Shepherd. “We’re not tied to other systems, such as e-commerce platforms or HR systems, to run lessons or manage learners, so we have more options for how we deliver courses.”

 

In particular, Shepherd appreciated the Fluidic Player in Adobe Learning Manager, which creates a unified experience by playing all types of media in a single window, without downloads or popups. “In many eLearning programs, PDF files will open in a different window, or you’ll hit a link that will take you to a video on YouTube. It chops up the learning experiences and distracts learners,” says Shepherd. “Adobe Learning Manager is completely different. With the Fluidic Player, everything takes place in one space, whether it’s a PDF, video, or an interactive quiz. It truly feels like a single learner experience.”

Improving course participation

The learner dashboard provides learners with a central location to check available courses and determine their overall progress in courses or even modules within each course. As the progress changes from “Yet to Start” to “In Progress” to “Complete,” learners can see how far they’ve come at a glance. Not only is the dashboard easy to use, but it provides a subtle push that helps engage learners.

 

“People gain a sense of accomplishment when they see their progress laid out for them in the learner dashboard,” says Shepherd. “Visible progress encourages people to continue and make up courses even if they miss a week or two. This has helped us lower our course withdrawal rate from around 50% to 5%.”

 

Adobe Learning Manager also provides NTEN with a management dashboard to track individual participants’ progress. Learners who complete NTEN’s 10-week training program plus 5 additional standalone courses receive professional certification from NTEN. As the program is a mix of predefined and optional courses, NTEN needs flexible reporting to follow the progress of the 50 learners who sign up for the training program. API options and advanced built-in reporting capabilities will allow NTEN to create custom reports that meet its unique needs.

 

While the interactive modules are currently used in conjunction with webinars for a deep learning experience, NTEN plans to explore creating standalone, on-demand course content that will allow even more nonprofits to educate themselves about leveraging technology.


“We have a small team, so we needed an efficient solution for creating our eLearning modules. Adobe Captivate was an approachable tool, making it easy to onboard, but the deep functionality means that we won’t be outgrowing it any time soon.”

 
Ash Shepherd

Education Director, NTEN


Building engaging courses in little time

Although Adobe Learning Manager has the flexibility to connect with almost any authoring tool or existing enterprise system, Shepherd chose Adobe Captivate for authoring and Adobe Connect to deliver interactive webinar experiences. “We chose each product independently, but it’s certainly a benefit to work in an all Adobe environment,” says Shepherd. “Adobe Captivate is our main authoring software for quizzes and feedback modules delivered through the Adobe Learning Manager LMS.”

 

In less than a year, Shepherd used Adobe Captivate to author 52 individual modules for NTEN’s main training program as well as 8 additional standalone courses. The nonprofit also uses Captivate to develop onboarding videos as part of the orientation completed using Learning Manager. Quizzes, pre-reading materials, and homework supplement webinars for greater interactivity and feedback. Captivate is flexible enough to generate almost any lesson plan Shepherd has in mind, while intuitive enough that he picked up the authoring basics quickly.

 

“We have a small team, so we needed an efficient solution for creating our eLearning modules,” says Shepherd. “Adobe Captivate was an approachable tool, making it easy to onboard, but the deep functionality means that we won’t be outgrowing it any time soon.”

 

While webinars can often become passive learning experiences, Adobe Connect uses flexible layouts that allow NTEN to rearrange video, polls, and chat boxes during the webinar. If learners miss a session, interactive recordings give an experience that’s as close to the live experience as possible. Instead of just watching the recording of a flat MP4 file, learners can scroll through the chats at their leisure, click links, and download files.

 

“Adobe Connect makes webinars much more accessible and interactive, whether learners are watching live or days later,” says Shepherd. “Everything is available in one place, which makes it easier for learners to participate and complete courses.”

Finding a partner in Adobe

While NTEN didn’t intend to choose solutions from a single vendor, Shepherd is extremely pleased with the support and service from Adobe. “When I pick a vendor, I’m looking for a partner who will work with me in the long term,” says Shepherd. “I’ve worked in nonprofit tech for more than 10 years and I’ve never had such a fantastic and supportive experience as with Adobe. By giving us the tools we need to operate efficiently, Adobe is helping us make a difference in communities around the world.”

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