While every sector of the economy navigates the challenges of COVID-19, Industry Associations have seen a slew of increased responsibilities fall on their laps throughout the course of the year.
Despite having their own business models and operations completely disrupted, Associations have played – and will continue to play – a pivotal role in helping Australian businesses and professionals adapt to the new operating realities that now inhibit industry.
As well as providing a hotbed for resources, collaboration and ideation, two of the greatest benefits of Association membership are access to industry-specific training and development, and the opportunity to network, engage, and learn with peers at conferences and events.
These are the biggest revenue streams for most Associations, however both dried up almost overnight once these historically face-to-face engagements were no longer possible.
Simultaneously, membership bases have been in dire need of support to help adjust to lockdowns and quarantine measures. As employers evaluate the most resilient, long-term framework to support their recovery, and employees rush to upskill and reskill, Industry Associations are best placed to provide guidance and ease the transition for their respective sectors.
Associations across the economic spectrum have done an incredible job supporting their members in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, delivering targeted short-term guidance on health-control measures and ever-changing social distancing regulations impacting their industry.
However, as we enter a post-COVID economy – with an unclear timeline on when face-to-face training and industry conferences might resume – it is critical membership organisations consider how to increase the value proposition they offer their members for the long term. With two of the traditional drawcards of Association membership up in the air indefinitely, members may begin to ask themselves “what’s in it for me?”. In order to drive engagement and nurture loyalty among their membership, Associations should seek to deliver engaging training and development courses, as well as provide opportunities for collaboration and peer coaching, through digital platforms that elevate the learning experience.
For example, to drive its training programs, the Australia and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) created a range of active, competency-based digital learning experiences tailored to the specific needs of its member community, comprising 87 per cent of anaesthetists in A/NZ.
For trainees, the body offers a series of anaesthesia learning courses to help doctors prepare for their examinations. For fully certified anaesthetists, ANZCA offers professional development courses ranging from addressing bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace to intercultural competency and practical ethics.
These initiatives are delivered by ANZCA’s learning management system (LMS), a framework designed to enable remote learning and training that empowers workers with hard and soft skills aligned to evolving economies.
Supporting Members Learn Online
A LMS can enable Associations to deliver training and development to meet a wide range of learning needs. Rather than simply deliver the same course one would in a face-to-face environment via videoconferencing, remote learners require a more engaging experience that enables them to learn at their own pace, on any device, at any time.
Critically, remote courses require dynamic content – video, audio, image and text – as well as the ability for instructors to provide frequent feedback to support the learner through their journey.
Consider training for ‘holding difficult conversations’ as an example. This is an important skill in most professions – particularly for those in leadership positions. In a remote setting, developing this skill requires reviewing content – which could be text-based or video – checking understanding, applying learning, getting feedback, and honing the skill.
A learning platform can help structure members’ learning to attain this skill with a variety of features:
- Content can be provided in a range of media formats
- Quizzes can check understanding
- Members can record videos of themselves practicing the skill and receive feedback on their progress
Nurturing Online Collaboration
While the training one receives through Industry Associations is invaluable, so is the ability to network and collaborate with peers and instructors while learning.
This element of shared learning and peer coaching helps to foster a sense of community within the industry while also providing a continuous feedback loop to hone the skill.
Again, an LMS can help to support and build a collaborative environment even though learners are physically distant.
ANZCA used its learning platform to achieve exactly this:
“By leveraging the collaboration capabilities of the D2L platform, we were able to create ‘networks’—communal spaces where our committees and special interest groups can share materials and drive discussions.”
“It’s easy for us to build media-rich course materials that include videos hosted on Vimeo, quizzes and more. As a result, we can shape learning journeys that strike a balance between passive and active learning, which helps make the experience more accessible and compelling.”
— Colin Lynas, Learning Technology Office at ANZCA.
Further, by developing high-quality training offerings on their LMS, the ANZCA has opened new revenue streams by offering a selection of courses to non-members for a fee.
Want to learn more?
These are just some of the ways an LMS can help support Industry Associations as they work to support and drive greater value for their members.
If you’d like to learn more about how an LMS can help your Association benefit members, please join us on Thursday, October 15 when we hold our “What is an LMS?” webinar in partnership with Answers for Associations. The webinar will start at 9:30am AEST (10:30am AEDT). For more information, or to register your attendance, please click here.