Published On: May 10, 2023By
What should associations keep in mind when moving training online? Check this podcast for tips from Kiwanis International

EPISODE 60: Moving Training Online

Moving Training Online at Kiwanis International - Melissa McMann - Talented Learning Show podcast

Melissa McMann – Education & Training Administrator – Kiwanis International

For many non-profits, the pandemic was an unexpected wakeup call. Literally overnight, organizations that relied on meetings or events to deliver member education were forced to provide online training.

That was the case at Kiwanis International, a network of youth and adult volunteers in more than 80 countries, dedicated to serving children in their communities. Their training transition is still a work in progress. But Kiwanis has already learned valuable lessons that can help other training providers in a similar situation.

That’s why I’m excited to talk today with Melissa McMann, Education and Training Administrator at Kiwanis. I’m sure you’ll appreciate learning about her organization’s mission and its digital training journey.



  • After moving training online during the pandemic, many organizations discovered they can significantly expand learning program reach, while simultaneously reducing the costs associated with traditional forms of instruction.
  • Working with an expert services provider can make moving training online a speedier and more successful process, especially if they can tap into a strong network of related technology and services partners, when needed.
  • If you can’t measure training activity, you won’t know if you’re moving in the right direction. Online learning is powerful because it lets you use LMS data to understand how audiences engage with your content and other insights that can help you improve training impact over time.



Great to have you here, Melissa. I bet everyone knows the name Kiwanis, but they may not know details about this organization. Could you give us a quick tour?

Sure. For more than a century, Kiwanis volunteers have focused on helping kids by providing them with opportunities to be curious, safe and healthy, no matter where they live. Our mission as a global organization is to improve the world, one child and one community at a time,

Your Key Clubs and Circle K programs are also well known for developing tomorrow’s leaders. What’s their mission?

Yes. We’re actually getting ready to celebrate Key Club’s 100-year anniversary in two years. It is a student-led high school organization with members who are committed to making the world a better place through service. So these students are learning how to be stronger individuals by answering the call to lead, the courage to engage and developing a heart to serve. And our Circle K International clubs are for college-age students who are involved in service leadership and learning on campuses.

We also offer programs to younger people in middle school and primary grades.

Cool. So, leadership training is built into each of these programs. How did the pandemic affect the way you train members?

In the past, we mailed or emailed packets of meeting kits and officer guides to club officers. And then, either a faculty advisor or an adult Kiwanis member advisor might provide training. Or students who attended a district, state or international convention could attend in-person leadership workshops. They received a packet or a PDF guide.


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Interesting. Did you track or measure those training-related activities?

No. We just focused on whether packets and mailings were sent. But we didn’t have any kind of evaluation data for student training.

Then Covid hit and the world changed overnight. Your members couldn’t meet in-person. So you were forced into moving training online. How did you approach that?

Well, certainly producing and mailing the packets is very pricey, especially during Covid, when there were paper shortages. Plus, because students couldn’t meet in person, we wanted to offer them another benefit of membership.

Makes sense…

So we researched what other large youth-serving nonprofits offer members through online education. We wanted to offer virtual conventions or a virtual weekend for some things. But we also looked at the kind of leadership training or certificate programs we could offer over one or more years.

And that’s when we decided to start moving training online. So we worked with a curriculum writer to develop leadership e-learning courses for members of our Key Clubs and Circle K International. And we’re working toward future offerings for younger students, as well.

Tell us about your certificate program…

As the result of an RFQ process, we found the Center for Leadership Excellence here in our state. They do a lot of leadership training for fraternities and sororities. So we were happy to ask them to do the curriculum writing. And they were instrumental in recommending the Crowd Wisdom LMS, so we could offer a Global Leadership Certificate.


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What does this program look like?

It is actually broader than our officer guides. It focuses on what today’s students need. And we’ve organized the content into different pillars and competencies around our primary Key Club and Circle K mission related to service, leadership and fellowship.

Some of the competencies combine both hard skills and soft skills. They may focus on communication or inclusion, but then also look at strategic planning or tactical planning skills. That’s because, for example, in high schools, the students might be developing a strategic plan for the year’s fundraising.

There are 39 different courses, organized by competencies. And students can log in and out of the LMS and complete these courses at their own pace.

And what happens when they complete these courses?

They receive a certificate. It’s all managed within the system.

How many students are you reaching with these programs?

Great question. Overall, there are about 250,000 Key Club members and 8,000-10,000 Circle K students. But as you said, Kiwanis is in 80 countries, and both Key Club and Circle K International are growing in other countries.

I see. So, you’ve been moving training online and now you’ve got all this data. Tell me about measurement. What metrics do you track? What measurable results are you seeing or hoping to see?

Right now we’re trying to measure outputs. Hopefully in the future, we’ll be measuring outcomes as well. For example, we’ll want to track where students are in their leadership roles. But for now, we’re focused on completions and where students who complete courses are located geographically.

We’re thinking about where we need to be more effective at promoting this program. Also, at what levels of our organization should we be sharing more information? At the club level? The state level? Or is it international? There are different roles in the organization. For example, students who are already leaders are eager to participate. We’re also hoping to target students who want to become leaders.

So, by moving training online, are the costs a wash? Or are you investing in this now and expecting that it will come back to you over time…?



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About the Author: John Leh

John Leh is Founder, CEO and Lead Analyst at Talented Learning and the Talented Learning Center. John is a fiercely independent consultant, blogger, podcaster, speaker and educator who helps organizations select and implement learning technology strategies, primarily for extended enterprise applications. His advice is based upon more than 25+years of learning-tech industry experience, serving as a trusted LMS selection and sales adviser to hundreds of learning organizations with a total technology spend of more than $100+ million and growing. John would love to connect with you on Twitter or on LinkedIn.
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