As a membership association you’ll have extensive training experience, so you’ll probably be keen to make your content available to members once the decision has been taken to go online. It’s true, compelling content will be important to members, but for learning to be fully effective, there’s more to plan than just making presentation material available online. You need to consider how to engage learners, what information you do and don’t want to include, and whether programmes will deliver value.
This is the second in our blog series exploring online learning readiness for membership associations. The first blog looked at stage one of five: building a foundation. Here, we turn our attention to driving engagement and collaboration, evaluating and monitoring, and personalising the journey. Check back for the final blog which will cover analysing and acting.
Driving Engagement and Collaboration
Your association probably has a lot of training material, but you need to think carefully about how you use it to build your online courses.
It helps that online learning can be bitesize, so members can learn at their own pace, but there’s more to course design than simply chunking up content. To keep members coming back for more, your learning programme should:
- Engage through a range of content formats such as audio and visual as well as written. Video also provides a way for members to interact with instructors and each other and to practise what they have learnt
- Enable collaboration and the opportunity for members to learn from one other. Discussions provide a great way for professionals to network and interact with peers.
Don’t forget that online, members can choose when to learn, from any location and a range of devices. Geography ceases to be a limiting factor, so your association can reach more members and expand its community to the benefit of all.
Evaluating and Monitoring the Programme
All courses and programmes of study need to include the means to check member understanding and to provide feedback as members apply their learning and put their skills into practice.
Assignments and quizzes are useful here, but they should be simple to set-up and use. Quizzes should contain a variety of question types and appear at the right time in the learning journey. Customisable access rules can help with this, ensuring members go through relevant content before testing their knowledge.
Feedback is critical, for both self-improvement and encouragement. Peer feedback through the online learning platform provides the opportunity for members to learn from each other.
One final consideration is for the administrators of the learning programme. They will need to understand how members use the tools. This will provide valuable insights for continuous improvement of the programme.
Personalising the Journey
Members learn apart from one another when they’re online but that doesn’t mean programmes have to lack the personal touch. It’s still possible, and important, to treat members as individuals and to cater for all learning needs. To help with this, make use of:
- Access conditions: as these determine which content is presented to each learner and when
- Recognition: through awards or badges when learners reach milestones or complete a course or programme. Members should also leave with shareable evidence of their achievements.
Course leaders and administrators need to stay in touch with learners but it’s unrealistic for them to do this manually when enrolment numbers are high. For this reason, it’s important to have an automated messaging capability so that messages are sent according to pre-set criteria to congratulate members or give them a nudge when they need one.
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