Young or old, technology has redefined the way we learn and work. As 8-to-5 days at the office have slowly turned into 24-hour social media networking from the car and virtual meetings during the kids’ soccer practices, social media has filled in the gaps.
“The world of continuing education and professional development has changed dramatically in the past few years,” Cobb and Steele said. “To meet member needs and stay out in front of the competition, you need to arm yourself with real data targeted to help you grow your programs.”
The 52-page Tagoras report provides such data, which were collected based upon a survey of 200 trade and professional associations. “Association Learning + Technology 2014” is designed to help association leaders strategize for a new learning landscape, while meeting their members’ needs for convenient and quick access to information.
There’s a goldmine of information in the report, which you can get for free if you subscribe to Tagoras’ free e-newsletter.
I’m sure the trends and data provided in the report will provide future blog fodder. But for starters, Cobb and Steele have abandoned the term e-learning and instead use the term technology-enabled or technology-enhanced learning.
Nearly all survey respondents – 88.7 percent – indicated they use some form of technology-enabled learning. The most popular form of such learning, according to the report: webinar.
As for social media, 33 percent of respondents reported using YouTube for learning programs, followed closely by Twitter (32 percent). Facebook was next, followed by LinkedIn. Nearly 37 percent of those surveyed indicated they have a mobile learning platform, and live streaming – rather than virtual conferences – seems to be an upcoming trend.
Another key takeaway: The majority of all respondents report technology has increased their revenue from educational offerings, but less than a quarter have a strategy in place to launch new learning platforms.
Cobb and Steel found organizations that consider themselves to be very successful:
- Report increased net revenue from their education offerings as a result of their use of technology for learning.
- Have a formal, documented strategy for their use of technology for learning.
- Have formal, documented product development and pricing processes that cover their technology-enabled and technology-enhanced learning.
- Offer facilitated online courses, gamified learning, virtual conferences and at least some mobile learning.
- Use a learning content management system (LCMS).
- Offer a formal credential (e.g., a certification or license), regardless of whether the credential is their own.
As the association industry transitions into technology-enabled learning, other trends will emerge, the report said. There will be:
- Growth in implementation of learning platforms and their integration with other key systems, like association management systems.
- A continued focus on professional instructional design to help ensure educational products are effective.
- The slowly growing use of social media for learning and increased dabbling in emerging products, like microcredentials and massive courses.
- An increase in competition that will, in turn, drive experimentation as associations look at how best to deliver more value.
- The professionalization of the education function overall, as the adoption and integration of sophisticated technologies increase the demand for savvy, experienced leaders in the continuing education and professional development business.
“We want to see more associations develop and use a strategy to guide their use of technology for learning,” Cobb and Steele said. “Gut-level governance can work, but more consistent approaches empower staff all over the org chart.”
While all this may seem overwhelming, “Associations Learning + Technology 2014” is an incredible measurement tool for associations, regardless of size and budget. As associations plan educational programs, sessions and conferences, it’s becoming increasingly important that technology take center stage.
But it’s O.K. to start small. Maybe the answer is a hybrid conference – in-person and live stream. Or maybe it’s establishing a professional group on LinkedIn. Or perhaps smaller associations can establish a YouTube channel and provide “tips of the day.” (By the way, this is a great project for interns, who love to create videos and are social-media savvy.)
The point is: Don’t be afraid to taste technology. And don’t leave your clients and members hungry or with a bitter aftertaste in a world full of ripe and delicious technological treats.
So, tell us, are you embracing technology-enabled learning? How do you incorporate technology into your matrix of educational opportunities?