Insights and tips for association & nonprofit professionals


Leveraging Data and Making Technology Work to Adapt to the Changing Learner

Are we blushing?? We are so honored that AH decided to author an entire article dedicated to 2018’s Learnapalooza! When we created our Learnapalooza conference for the association education and learning professional two years ago, we never thought we’d see the success we’ve witnessed in such a short amount of time. We are already in full swing preparing for this year’s conference taking place April 30 – May 2 in Chicago! Click here to sign up and learn more!

Thank you, AH! Check out their write up below.

“The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting.” – Plutarch

The Learnapalooza conference, hosted by AssociationTRENDS, set out to deliver content that explored trends and best practices in the field of member-focused education programs. Over the course of the two and a half days of training, several themes united the content:

  • Making your Technology Work for You;
  • Leveraging your Data; and
  • Meeting the Needs of the Changing Learner.

Several case studies were presented throughout the conference both by vendors and association professionals themselves from a variety of industries, which served to illustrate the practical application of these trends.

Making your Technology Work for You

What CE professionals are seeing these days is that the learner is now always connected, and as such, the association’s educational content must be mobile friendly. In 2017, there were 28.4 billion connected smart devices worldwide, twice the number in 2014. It is anticipated that this will be 50 billion by 2020.  Learners want to learn when and where they want, on any device. So to keep up with the trend toward mobile, content should be digitally native, and data driven.

Additionally, research has shown that 87% of companies are changing their learning and delivery methods to increase the use of anytime, anywhere education. One session, “Enhancing the Mix of Learning and Delivery Methods,” used the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICP) as a case study in innovative use of technology. AICPA showcased the state-of-the-art tools and techniques that they used to design and deliver content to their members, in a variety of formats and in ways that are convenient to consume. Products that they utilized included GoAnimate, GoMo, Branchtrack, and even the VR platform Mursion.

Now, more than ever, learning is happening online. This has led to a new wave of learning platforms, offering a variety of delivery methods and experience solutions. One of the conference sessions, “Powering the New World of Learning – How to Engage Today’s Learners,” showed how different LMS technologies can improve the user experience and collect data that the association can use to guide further marketing and CE activity development.

This session also showed how technology enables omnichannel learning, stressing the importance of users having a seamless learning experience, regardless of the technology they are using.

Leveraging your Data in Content Creation

Many of the conference sessions also stressed the importance of using data to drive content creation and dissemination. With the advances in technology, associations now have more data than ever before about their members and learners. The problem that many encounter is that this data is siloed – in your membership database, in your LMS, etc. Breaking data out of silos can power innovation in the continuing education arena. Data can help you understand your learners, and prioritize what they care about.

Data provides associations several pieces of key information: what the learner is most interested in; what is and is not successful; what to offer and to whom; and how to keep in touch after the educational interaction. Learners today are seeking more personalized learning opportunities, and your data is going to help determine what they are most interested in. Break down those data silos to get a clear, complete picture of your members and what they want to learn.

One session, “Hidden in Plain Sight: Using new technology to uncover insight from your association’s conference session submission data,” used The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) as a case study. NASP conducted a data analysis into their annual conference abstract acceptance process, which provided them with actionable insight. It illustrated how impactful basic data analysis can be for the future planning of educational content.

Meeting the Needs of the Changing Learner

Good news for the CE professional: Lifelong learning has become an economic imperative. Research has shown that continuing education is seen as the greatest job benefit for millennials (preferred over flex hours, cash bonuses, etc.)

However, research presented also painted the modern learner as a distracted one – most users won’t watch a video for longer than 4 minutes, and only 1% of a typical workweek is spent focusing on training and development.

For this reason, it’s important to present content in a variety of formats: micro-learning, flipped classrooms, podcasts, virtual events, live events, webinars, etc. This way, the learner can find what works best for them and take advantage. Luckily, advances in technology have made these modes of learning more accessible both to the association and to the learner.

Today’s learner is also interested in personalized content; they are now more interested in just-in-time learning instead of just-in-case learning. Data plays a big role in achieving learner personalization. Associations can mine their data to figure out which members are interested in what content, through data points like purchase history and professional background, and market that relevant content to them. This way, members can hone in on the content that is most relevant to them.

Ultimately, the education your association creates must be relevant to the learner for it to be successful.   For this reason, associations should strive to have a learner-centric vision for their educational offerings, making use of available data to make sure that what is being created is truly needed by the audience, and making use of appropriate technology to deliver the content in an easy-to-use format.

This article was originally posted here and authored by Emily O’Connor on December 11th, 2018.

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