eLearning provides nonprofit employees with educational resources and informative content, allowing them to continually develop in their roles. On NXUnite’s ”Our Remote World: How eLearning Can Benefit Nonprofits” panel, speakers discussed the value of Online Learning and strategies for implementing educational tools. 

Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Interim President and Chief Learning Officer Dorothy Norris-Tirrell, Ph.D., CNP was joined by Dan Streeter of Blue Sky eLearn, Vanessa Doutherd of Cypher Learning, and John Leh of Talented Learning for this conversation. 

Here are three key questions the panelists addressed.

  1. How have eLearning and digital resources evolved in the last few years?
  2. How can nonprofits approach implementing eLearning?
  3. How can eLearning and digitally accessible resources support a nonprofit’s development and operations?

How have eLearning and digital resources evolved in the last few years?

Dorothy Norris-Tirrell, Ph.D., CNP of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance observed that recent years have seen numerous emerging technologies and changes in the eLearning space. Technological advances mean that digital learning is no longer limited to video content, but can include audio, interactive assessments, peer engagement, and real-time peer interaction. 

These advances allow learning programs to address different learning styles, meeting the needs of a broader group of learners. Dororthy noted the importance of considering the different ways people learn. When designing the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance’s educational programs, Dororthy works with screen readers and magnifiers to ensure content is accessible to people with hearing and visual impairments. 

One of the most notable changes in the eLearning landscape has been an increased emphasis on mobile-first access. Whether on a computer, phone, or tablet, learners are now able to access the same content. 

Mobile access makes educational materials more cost-effective and efficient. For example, instead of sending one person to a workshop, an entire team might enroll in an online course. Course materials are always available, allowing people to learn in a way that works for their schedule and location. 

How can nonprofits approach implementing eLearning?

Implementing a new eLearning program can feel like a daunting task. The panelists offered strategies for bringing eLearning to your organization. Vanessa Doutherd of Cypher Learning emphasized the importance of having a well-defined implementation plan, especially if it is your first time introducing an eLearning system. 

Vanessa noted that organizations should consider how their educational content will migrate to their new system. Whether moving from an existing digital platform or from a face-to-face learning model, content may need to be altered to best suit the new program. 

In Vanessa’s experience, organizations are often excited about gamification because they assume it will automatically make their content more engaging. However, when they map existing content to their new digital environment at face value, they lose some of the advantages of gamification. It’s important to consider ways to update content to fit new features of your platform.

How can eLearning and digitally accessible resources support a nonprofit’s development and operations?

Dorothy encouraged nonprofits to use eLearning to make meaningful change in their mission area. She noted that all nonprofits have areas of expertise and information to share, and they can leverage digital learning to share their resources. 

For example, the Alliance offers a course called The Equity Journey. In response to the pandemic, they updated the course to include more personal reflection with built-in applied strategies. Organizations used this course as a first step, asking learners to reflect independently to prepare for group conversations.

eLearning can also demonstrate an internal commitment to learning and growth in your organization. If constantly bringing in new ideas is a part of your organizational culture, all staff members can be exposed to valuable takeaways from other roles and develop in their careers

While one person might take a full course for expert-level knowledge, others can take a portion for a more general overview. This allows members of your organization to understand how their work interacts with and supports other people.


eLearning expands access to educational resources, providing an engaging learning experience. Internally, digital learning builds your organizational culture and equips you with information that allows you to best prepare for the future. Externally, eLearning programs share valuable resources related to your mission and serve as a call for change.

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