Elevating learning to engage more members
Professionals enjoy a range of benefits from association memberships, among them access to training and development, and the opportunity to engage with, and learn from peers. For many associations, learning and networking has meant face-to-face events – large annual conferences, seminars and training sessions. In recent years though, expectations have changed, and members now value the option to learn online. For associations, the need to be online accelerated this year when the pandemic forced event cancellation.
Evolving the learning proposition
Learning and development (L&D) is a big attraction for existing and new members of associations. Indeed, many professionals are required to undertake a specified amount of continuing professional development (CPD) each year, which may be connected to a license to practice. Many look to their membership to provide these opportunities.
The right L&D offering is therefore important for associations aiming to recruit and retain members. However, it takes more than just delivering an event by web conference to take learning online – a two-day conference doesn’t translate easily when there’s group work and networking on the agenda. Even live online courses can struggle to attract attendees when members prefer training that’s on their own terms and at their own pace.
All of which points to the need for variety in training, including bitesize digital learning delivered over longer periods of time. To reach all members even as numbers grow, this must be scalable. Digital learning can meet these requirements and isn’t restricted by geography, so members both nationally and internationally can take advantage of the offering.
The learning platform
A learning management system (LMS) enables associations to deliver training and development to meet a wide range of learning needs. It is a learning platform that takes advantage of multimedia to deliver courses to build all types of skills, even those requiring practice and collaboration.
Consider training on how to hold difficult conversations, as an example. This is an important skill in a range of professions including health and human resources and for executives in leadership positions. Developing this skill most likely involves reviewing content – which could be text-based or video – checking understanding, applying learning, getting feedback and honing the skill.
The learning platform structures members’ learning to help them attain this, and many other skills:
- content can be provided in a range of formats
- quizzes can check understanding
- members can record videos of themselves practising a particular skill, and get feedback on their progress
- gamification techniques and reward and recognition can help keep members engaged
- learners can learn from their course leaders and each other through peer coaching and facilitated discussions
Collaboration and tools to keep member interest help make learning engaging, while associations gain benefits of:
- a high-quality training offer which can be monetised or included as part of membership packages
- desirable and flexible learning and development opportunities to attract and retain members
- access to detailed data analytics for insight into how members progress through courses and what works in helping members achieve desired learning outcomes and meet CPD goals
- continuous member engagement as learners log their CPD all year round
A seamless experience
Members want one way of interacting with their association online, with everything in one place: account management, booking and paying for training and events and keeping up to date with the latest news. Most associations already meet these needs through a website and member portal.
The learning platform can integrate with existing systems such as customer relationship management (CRM), ecommerce, event management and finance, so that members have a single log-in and a seamless experience. What’s more, it can support single payments from companies paying for a batch of training for employees.
This integration is essential. Members value an association’s content to help them keep up to date with the latest industry developments and to progress their own learning. If they’re expected to use a range of systems to access this content, or if the experience is a bad one, then it will likely impact membership renewal and retention. A fully integrated cloud-based learning platform is essential for associations who often have a small staff and are unlikely to have the capacity to manage additional IT.
A learning platform can enable associations to create engaging, flexible learning experiences that make the most of valued content and expertise. Learning and development that enables collaboration, provides structured learning pathways and incorporates a range of media types help members meet their learning goals and associations extend their reach.
In challenging times, when associations are challenged to reassess their priorities and focus on sustainable funding models that diversify their offerings, it is critical to continue to provide continued value to a highly discerning member base. By turning to online delivery models to provide events and educational programmes to expand their reach, improve efficiencies and maintain their competitive edge, associations are creating a powerful impact on both their member engagement and their revenue.
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