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Training providers and member associations: evolving the learning proposition

For professional membership associations and training providers, learning literally means business. To retain and attract members and customers they must offer a learning product that is relevant, engaging and that meets the needs of today’s learners. Increasingly, this means being digital, social and mobile.

In some careers, professionals are required to undertake a specified amount of continuing professional development (CPD) every year. Many professional associations mandate CPD for membership to continue and this may be connected with a license to practice. In business, employees undertake a wide range of training, both job-specific and to comply with health and safety and industry regulation.

Bitesize digital learning

It wasn’t so long ago that this corporate training or CPD meant booking onto a course and going to a classroom for a day or series of days, but times have changed. Now, customers and members want bite-size digital learning; even live online courses struggle to attract attendees because people prefer to undertake training on their own terms, at their own pace.

This shift towards effective distance learning is making customer and membership retention an issue for training providers and associations. Add to this, the battle to recruit new members and attract new customers, and the challenge is on to move with the times and evolve training offerings through digital transformation.

Find out how Advance HE furthers CPD in education and creates a community of learners globally >

Exciting and engaging learner experiences

Such a transformation requires more than simply taking face-to-face training content and putting it online. It starts with understanding that the way people learn has changed and involves getting underneath what it takes to deliver a truly engaging digital learning experience.

This experience can be social. After all, interactions that happen in the classroom are highly beneficial to the learning process. A next-generation learning management system (LMS) has the tools to promote discussion and social collaboration when training is no longer face-to-face.

It can also tap into successful digital models to deliver a familiar and exciting learning journey that drives engagement and encourages successful learning behaviour. This is known as gamification – the application of tools and techniques, such as progress tracking and reward and recognition, often used in game design. It can be used to great effect in technology-enabled training programs.

Learn how the American Nurses Association (ANA) gamified training for its members >

Learning across borders

A huge benefit of digital learning is that it is not limited by geography. Geographically dispersed teams can undertake the same training, whether they’re split across a number of national offices or spread across the globe.

For enterprises, this is an extremely convenient way to deliver learning. Not only does it enable the rollout of consistent training to all, but it also centralizes program measurement and provides detailed insight into what works and what doesn’t through learning analytics.

For professional associations, next-gen-LMS-provided training can help support a drive to expand internationally. Simple, digital access to high-quality professional training can help boost overseas membership and extend the influence of the institute or association outside its domestic market.

Here again, analytics is extremely important as the reaction of learners can no longer be judged by the way they interact in the classroom. How can the progress of members, seated at computers thousands of miles away, be measured? For this reason, it’s important that the learning platform provides data on how many times learners access parts of the program, how long they spend on them and how well they’re progressing, among many other measures.

Find out how Advance HE used D2L’s Brightspace to expand into South-East Asia and China >

Creating the best digital learning experience

Institutes, associations and training providers all have content in common. They are probably the richest organisations in their field when it comes to knowledge and content. However, making the transition from a classroom-led teaching organisation to a digital one can be daunting.

For this reason, it’s important to work with a partner that can provide help creating the new digital, online learning experience. Tools to bring content into the platform are essential time-savers, but forward-thinking organisations recognize this is about more than simply transitioning from one delivery method to another – it is about transforming as a learning organisation. This is where a strong partnership with the right learning platform provider is so beneficial, as they will be able to provide the technical and change management expertise that will help transform the learning experience for customers and members.

For a more in-depth view, download our ebook Connecting with the New Generation of Membership: How associations can use next-generation learning engagement to create value for the millennial professional >

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