The recent report on Lifelong Learning and Technology released by the Internet, Science and Technology subdivision of Pew Research Center made some interesting observations about why and how professional learners seek out learning opportunities. The report is very informative for associations and other organizations which provide professional development and continuing education opportunities to professional learners.
Professional Learners were identified as adults who “have taken a course or gotten additional training in the past 12 months to improve their job skills or expertise connected to career advancement”.
Interestingly, 75% of adults working in nonprofit organizations and over 50% of adults working in a small business, medium or large corporation identify themselves as professional learners. This clearly shows a high regard, and demand for, continuing education opportunities that help working adults to improve their career prospects. Professional learners say their training helped them to expand their professional network, advance within their current organization, or to find a new career.
Where do professional learners access training?
One of the interesting findings from the report was where professional learners access their job-related training. Though 55% of professional learners have accessed training online in the past 12 months, the majority of job-related training is taking place in physical locations, such as the workplace, conferences, or off-site training or education facilities.
Now we have you wondering, why is an LMS provider highlighting the fact that a lot of professional learners are accessing training off-line?
Well the answer is simple. Often people associate a learning management system (LMS) with e-learning, online courses, and more recently the cloud. At WBT Systems, we have been working with extended enterprise, professional and trade associations for over 20 years to build and develop their education and certification programs, long before these programs were taken online. We know that organizations offer a wide variety of professional learning opportunities to their members, employees, and partners which range from online courses, to conferences, to classroom-based learning.
Sometimes, it is easy to get caught up in the hype that surrounds the latest trends in learning – social, cloud, mobile, for example. While a good learning management system will support all of these new trends, it is important to also facilitate organizations to deliver learning offline, in multiple environments. An extended enterprise or association LMS will enable your organization to appeal to the widest audience of professional learners, by supporting the delivery and management of all types of training – online or offline.
Why use an LMS to manage offline training?
What are the benefits of using an LMS to manage offline training for your association or extended enterprise? An LMS that fully supports online and offline training will enable your organization to streamline the additional administration tasks of offering off-line training to professional learners.
For example, you may offer training to your members at your annual conference, or at a series of smaller regional events in local hotels, where the sessions will be recorded and distributed to attendees after the event. You need to manage the number of people who can register for each session based on room capacity and location. You might need to manage the equipment allocated for that room (screen, projector, etc) and you might offer the same session multiple times depending on demand. How much time will you need to spend checking and updating spreadsheets to manually track the logistics?
With a good LMS that has been developed to support professional learning, as opposed to an open source or academic LMS, you should be able to manage locations, facilities, registration and administration of all types of learning with ease. For example, TopClass LMS will allow you to set up waitlists for over-subscribed sessions, and can automatically enroll waitlisted learners if space frees up, or if another room is made available. After the event is over, you can use the LMS to make the recordings available and monitor which learners access the recordings. You may have offered CE credits for attending the event, and can award these for each learner using the LMS. You may even use the LMS to run a survey to get feedback on the event and recording, or to sell offline materials to accompany the conference or session – all of which can be tracked and reported on at the individual and group level in the LMS.
The ability to track logistics and participation, gather all the data for all your training in one place and run reports, enables your organization to make more informed decisions when planning education and certification programs, including but not limited to:
- what courses, events, sessions to offer based on demand
- which locations have the needed facilities and are available
- what pricing to offer for courses or events, depending on popularity
- what is the preferred format for this content – face-to-face, recorded webinar, or live online?
At WBT Systems, we have used our years of experience working with enterprise and associations to build an award-winning LMS that enables organizations to manage, track and report on all the professional learning opportunities they offer – online or offline.
About Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The center conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, content analysis and other data-driven social science research. All of the Center’s reports are available at www.pewresearch.org. © Pew Research Center 2016