Guest Contributor: Amanda D Batson, Ph.D., Education Architect & Consultant, ADB Partners, LLC
In a world of 24/7 information, data, and learning, organizations devoted to professional development often struggle to be heard. Whether it’s lynda.com, a subsidiary of LinkedIn; a MOOC from an array of prestigious universities (note the aggregation services of Class Central); or a Curiosity smart meme or course, people have options. These options may not be specific to a profession or industry, but such choices are coming.
Now – today – this moment – is the sweet spot for associations and other learning organizations to create dynamic unified learning. These organizations are sitting on the gold mines of expertise and experience. When association leaders commit to unified learning, they tap these rich resources and reap at least three benefits for their organizations and their most important audience — their members:
1. Improved Resource Management
When associations operate education services in silos, the fragmentation is damaging even though it may not be apparent until something catastrophic occurs (see recent book The Silo Effect by Gillian Tett). The damage may be the slow drip of reduced annual conference attendance or exhibit booth sales. The damage may be limited registration or attendance rates for online programs. The damage may be a board balking at digital education without confirmed success (generally this means financial). When an organization strategically plans and implements unified learning, the silos of in-person education, meeting planning, technology, and online learning work as a quartet. The time, energy, and expertise of staff and volunteers are applied synchronously to provide articulated learning opportunities.
2. Aligned Learning Across Platforms
Professional development is one of the prime reasons that individuals join membership groups, e.g., associations. In a 2014 survey of small membership organizations by Wild Apricot, six reasons for joining were identified; two of the six were related to education – professional development and learning best practices. With a competitive job market and demanding calendars, both personal and professional, new-entrants to a profession as well as experienced individuals seek training to keep current and for advancement. When an association provides an aligned package of education options, new members (think Millenials and Gen Z) can be attracted and existing members maintained. Alignment is important because members have choices about how and where they use their training time and resources. When a learning organization provides a totally aligned education program, the organization becomes the “go-to” source for professional development, career networks, education resources, and training updates.
3. Enhanced, Sustainable Member Services
As travel becomes more restricted due to economic challenges as well as work demands, virtual continuing education will become even more important. The delivery of quality professional development across platforms will move up the priority list. With strategically designed and unified learning programs, associations will enhance continuing education and extend member services. The association that maintains quality while diversifying delivery options will be the ultimate provider of member education. Membership in such organizations will be a requirement for professional success. Such services will be sustainable because members and employers need, want, and demand them. The sustainability quotient will be even stronger because quality learning will be available in-person and online.
With an education plan strategically designed for unified learning, an organization will improve resource efficiency; align learning across platforms; and enhance member services which are sustainable. These organization benefits increase multi-fold the return on the respective member investment. Members invest not only money but time and energy. Such member commitment deepens when there are dynamic, unified learning opportunities – day in and day out.
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About the Author:
Dr. Amanda Batson, education architect and consultant, founded ADB Partners in 2004 specializing in Education on Demand. A major focus is quality hybrid learning and helping organizations achieve dynamic balance between face-to-face (f2f) and online experiences. Her consultant services include organizational planning, education design, speaking, research, writing, and facilitation of both in-person and virtual events, communities and courses.
This post first appeared on the Peak 8 Learning blog.