Today’s modern adult learners expect more. With information available at their fingertips via podcasts, YouTube videos, and other consumer-focused sources, they have come to expect that same on-demand experience in their professional lives. Many organizations have not yet made the shift to invest in modern learning, which presents an opportunity for associations to help deliver valuable learning programs that are personalized to their members.
Understanding the Learner
The first step in delivering a personalized learning experience is understanding the learner of today. A valuable action to take at this stage is conducting a Learner Journey Mapping exercise. This is something that has proven quite successful in other industries—user journey mapping in product design and customer journey mapping in customer experience—and is slowly gaining momentum in the learning world.
The simplest way to do this is by bringing together a team that really understands the quintessential learner (potentially including some members) and tasking them with researching and answering the five W’s:
- Who is the learner?
- What do they need to know?
- When will they use this information?
- Why does it matter to them?
- Where (and how) do we want them to apply it?
Although this research takes time, it’s a valuable, worthwhile start toward building a personalized learning experience.
Building the Content
The next step is building learning content that answers the questions above. This will make sure you are constantly considering the needs of your members when developing the materials they need to absorb as part of the learning program. In addition to personalizing the content itself, you’ll need to tailor the path they take through the program—what courses they should take first, second, third, and so on. In situations where the program is not linear or where a learner is not part of a discrete cohort, it’s important to leverage a well-defined communications plan to indicate the options available to your members. Think Netflix. If you like x, then you’ll like y. Taking this approach will help members feel more engaged as the learning is highly customized to their needs.
Delivering the Program
The metric for evaluating a successful personalized membership learning program is scalability. From the association’s point of view, the administrative staff should be able to easily automate the program delivery, gain insights into their members’ progress, and leverage data to adjust and personalize experiences en masse. From a member’s perspective, they should feel that the program delivered is in alignment with their knowledge, skills, or behavior.
The simplest way to do this is by implementing self assessment at the beginning of the program with various progress and mastery checkpoints as the member continues through the content. This will provide clear direction, helping the member buy into their own progress and thus increasing overall engagement.
A well-thought-out learning program can not only deliver a personalized experience for your members but will also help them feel more engaged with your content and thereby your association.
Stay tuned for the second article in this five-part series, which will take a closer look at how associations can use badging and awards to enhance their learning programs.