December 16, 2017
    Rethinking event-based learning

    The underlying forces disrupting professional development require a new conversation

    By Tracy King, M.A., CAE | 09/28/2017

    Association continuing education is at a crossroads. While the felt needs are often plummeting registration, stagnating credentialing programs, and lackluster eLearning uptake, the underlying forces disrupting professional development require a new conversation.

    It’s time to rethink event-based learning.

    New reality

    Powerful workforce shifts indicate it’s time for associations to realign resources with new needs:

    • By 2020, 50 percent of the workforce at large will be contingent, freelancing part or full time.
    • Generational shifts require new competencies to manage multiple generations and bridge the leadership continuity gap.
    • Technological advances are changing the nature of work and how we collaborate with technology.
    • Global virtual workforces require on-demand access to training that will allow them to quickly upskill to meet evolving performance requirements.
    • The pace of change within industries reinforces the need for in-time at-the-point-of-need training and resources.
    • Corporations are increasingly tying their professional development budgets for external training to outcomes – demanding to measure the change they seek in alignment with their business objectives.

    Alongside these shifts, corporations and academic institutions are forging new partnerships collaborating on pipeline and professional development needs. Minnesota Colleges and Universities are only the most recent example, developing certificates and just-in-time learning programs for corporations. Also important to note: They both utilize instructional designers to implement measurable learning experiences.

    The new reality is event-based learning alone cannot compete in this environment.

    24/7 learning shift

    The industries associations represent require 24/7 access to learning to remain competitive and upwardly mobile. And they are requiring we distinguish packaging information in education formats to real learning, which equates to a measurable change they seek. The event-based model is convenient logistically for both in-person and online events, but if learning is our goal, we must re-think our approach to compete in this new environment.

    Key questions:

    • What changes do our target learners seek? How can we address those needs through transformational learning design?
    • What competencies are required within our industry? How can we leverage competency-based learning pathways to give our members a meaningful assist?
    • How can we coordinate in-person and online learning so we are present at the point of need?

    Workforce disruptions require 24/7 learning, and the industries we represent have a vast array of choices. Associations must embrace a new conversation about learning employing an integrated education strategy to remain relevant and sustainable.

    King is chief learning strategist & founder of InspirEd. For more information, please visit or

    Want more on this topic? King will present "Integrated Learning Strategy: Moving From Event Based Learning to Continuous Learning" at Learnapalooza, Oct. 3-5 in Crystal City, Va. Space is limited, register today!

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