Retention is one of the most critical metrics for associations and membership organizations today, but what benefits truly increase value for association members and ensure they renew their membership? One key benefit that can help deliver more value to members is a strong, engaging education program that keeps learners coming back for more training. A recent poll of Association Adviser readers identified continuing professional education as a "top member priority". Here we share 4 ways that education programs increase value for association members.
Engaging education programs increase value for association members by offering the following benefits:
- Access to timely and relevant industry information
- Professional development or certification programs to boost career prospects
- On-demand access to support or resources for day-to-day activities
- Opportunities to connect and network with peers and subject matter experts
Using technology can help your association to deliver more engaging education programs that help your members see the value in association membership, and can help to differentiate your association from other organizations. For example, using a cloud-based learning management system to deliver education programs can contribute to an overall positive member experience by enhancing your association's ability to provide the four benefits listed above.
The recent poll of Association Adviser readers also identified their biggest technology or innovation breakthroughs in 2015. The two leading breakthroughs were identified as the delivery of online training and certification and the adoption of cloud computing. Technology and innovations such as cloud-based learning management systems are helping associations to deliver better continuing professional education programs to increase value for association members.
When you use a cloud-based learning management system, it allows association members anytime, anywhere access to your education programs and professional development resources, and opportunities to connect and network with their peers in real-time to share their experience. It also allows your association to actively monitor what resources and information are most engaging for your members and to track their progress toward continuing education goals and requirements. This invaluable data enables you to plan and create educational content that will be relevant and engaging, to increase value for association members and keep them coming back for more.
Access to timely and relevant industry information
Education programs delivered through learning management systems can provide access to timely and relevant industry information in a number of ways. A News module can be used to share timely industry news items on the learner dashboard. Recordings from webinars and conferences can be made available immediately through the LMS, providing instant access to the most relevant industry information. Notifications of new or updated courses can be automatically sent to members to promote interest, and enrollment information can easily be tracked by education program administrators to monitor which courses and information are of most interest to members, to inform future content creation.
Professional development or certification programs
Many organizations and companies promote a lifelong learning model where employees are encouraged to continue their professional development, but corporate training departments can have limited bandwidth. Association education programs provide an extension to corporate training, offering opportunities for continuing education and certification which can boost career prospects for their members. Learning management systems enable association members to actively monitor their own professional development with clear, searchable records of training history, continuing education credits earned, and certifications achieved. Associations can also personalize learning for members by promoting relevant courses to further an interest or complete a continuing education requirement necessary for their chosen career.
On-demand access to support or resources
Everyone has that moment in the middle of a project or daily work task when they turn to Google to satisfy an information need and hope that the information they find is relevant, appropriate. and verified. Associations can provide real value to members when they can provide easy, anytime, anywhere access to a library of validated resources and information that are relevant, accurate and useful in supporting everyday information needs. This is easily provided and tracked through a cloud-based LMS, which provides anytime, anywhere access to members. and allows education directors to evaluate what information is most needed and valued by members.
Opportunities to connect and network
Associations hold conferences and regional meetings to enable members to connect with their peers, industry leaders, and subject matter experts. These events are valued highly by members, who can be spread over a large geographical area, as an opportunity to connect and discuss challenges and ideas with others who share their experience. However, these events offer this opportunity to connect only a few times each year, depending on scheduling and members' ability to attend.Various technologies, including learning management systems, especially those that are cloud-based and can be accessed from any device with an internet connection, can help to bridge the time between events. Cloud-based learning platforms offer opportunities to connect in real-time through discussion forums, online communities, or other social learning features. Providing the technology and tools to help members to connect, continue conversations, and learn from each other can really increase the value of education programs, and thus the perceived value of membership.