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World’s largest nonprofit health and fitness certification organisation ACE partners with Totara Learning to provide the ultimate learning experience

American Council on Exercise (ACE) is the largest nonprofit health and fitness certification, education and training organisation in the world with more than 58,000 certified professionals.

ACE also plays an important public-service role, conducting and providing science-based research and resources on safe and effective physical activity and sustainable behavior change.

The Challenge

A key part of ensuring ACE Certified Professionals have access to education is an LMS. ACE had built a limited LMS in-house. With evolving needs and a growing business, ACE decided to look to the future and bring in a learning platform that could grow with them. 

ACE looked at a range of products in the LMS space that could support professional education programmes. Totara provided the feature set that ACE needed in a way that others, including Moodle couldn’t. 

Beyond feature set, Totara’s model had three key advantages for ACE:

  • Cost: The open source approach meant a high ROI compared to other proprietary solutions.
  • Support: ACE did not want to tie up internal IT resources to implement and ensure the security of another system. SLA level support from both Totara and chosen partner Synegen gave peace of mind. 
  • Freedom: The freedom and flexibility of the Totara Partner model meant that there was no concern about vendor lock-in if there was ever a reason to change. 

The Solution

Totara partner Synegen worked closely with the ACE team to implement the LMS, Totara Learn, that would support their education model. 

This started with a documentation of user journeys so it was clear how the LMS needed to perform to meet user needed.  Key features of the implementation included:

  • Blend design: A key audience was ACE’s internal instructional design team. They had specific requirements for blended designs within the LMS, and synegen brought an instructional design perspective, which helped to ensure the system met those needs. This has enabled ACE’s in-house designers to develop more creative, flexible designs faster. 
  • Virtual classrooms: The ACE Totara was set up to support virtual online classrooms, using the enrolment and scheduling features of the classroom management component, combined with integrated GoTo Meeting webinars. This has made recertification a more seamless experience for ACE Certified Professionals. 
  • Recertification model: To maintain certification, ACE Certified Professionals are required to earn 20 hours of CECs (continuing education credits) each year. ACE has made full use of the Totara Quiz functionality to provide content and assessment to meet this need. The fact that they can do this online is a key market differentiator for ACE and is helping to keep ACE Pros coming back for recertification rather than using a different source. Ecommerce integration enables ACE to manage fulfillment through the site, and keep in contact with all of their trained professionals. 

The ACE Totara also supports exam preparation, enabling users to ensure they’re ready to take a certification exam. 

The system was up and running in less than 4 months, and is headed towards 3,000 users in the next 12 months.

The relationship we have with Synegen our partner, and Totara, works really well in terms of meeting the needs of our roadmap. We needed to future proof and we have picked a great platform, both for our needs right now and one that can grow to meet our needs for the foreseeable future.
– David Fischer, Director of Online Business & Technology

The Results

  • Speed: up and running in under 4 months
  • ROI: significant cost savings over proprietary LMS alternatives 
  • Design flexibility: The flexible course design options in Totara mean that the ACE ID design team can design with more flexibility and efficiency than before 
  • Market differentiation: Ease of virtual CECs is driving recertification revenues 
  • Seamless experience: My ACE Account puts all online education in one place for ACE Pros  
  • Business efficiency: Fulfilment made easier through ecommerce