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3 Educational Resources Your Association Should Offer Members

Educating your members with these three strategies is a great way to make sure your members are retaining the information your association provides.

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Educating your association’s members is a large component of the member benefits you offer. In order to effectively deliver the information your association provides, you should have education strategies under your belt, helping your members improve their skills and further their career.

Web Scribble spoke with Mark Light, the Chief Executive Officer for the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). As the CEO for 11 years, Mark represents 12,000 members in 34 countries around the globe.  Mark uses education as a resource for his members to help them through situations they might not be familiar with. For example, IAFC recently put out two position papers to help members respond to school shootings, which have been on the rise in the country lately.

“The three main words that describe what we do are lead, educate and serve,” says Mark, “with educating being a large component of what we do.” It’s apparent that your association should be offering educational opportunities to its members. So, which strategies should you use to educate your members? Let’s take some advice from IAFC and learn how your association can educate members and heighten membership value in the process.

Conferences and Seminars

Did you know that education is the reason why 36% of association members attend events? Whether it’s a conference or a seminar, members are looking to gain knowledge and receive educational opportunities when they attend your event.

Conferences bring members together to exchange ideas and have discussion on various topics. Seminars, on the other hand, are a form of academic instruction that focus on a particular subject. They are directly held to help educate a group of people on a topic.  Conferences give people the opportunity to learn new things from their fellow association members. Everyone has different experiences, and conferences are the perfect way to hear different opinions and perspectives on a certain topic. “I do speaking engagements at different conferences around the country and the world,” says Mark. Mark says that holding and speaking at conferences and seminars is one of IAFC’s top member benefit.

Having conferences not only helps educate your members, but provides them with networking opportunities to expand their professional network. “We answer member questions and get involved in almost every major emergency around the country,” says Mark. If your association is holding a seminar, you should educate your members on a specialized topic within your field, rather than a general subject. This way, your members will learn about an in-depth topic they might have never encountered before, and that will be beneficial in increasing their knowledge and skills. Consider creating more event and seminar opportunities to open up learning advancements for your association’s members.

Hands-on learning

Looking to provide more learning opportunities to members? Consider making them a hands-on experience that everyone can get on board with. Hands-on learning is a different approach to education, rather than the traditional conference or seminar. It involves physical activity and helps people “learn by doing.” This may include a hands-on project or simulations.

Research shows that incorporating hands-on learning activities increases engagement, knowledge retention and learner independence. This means that by providing hand-on learning opportunities, your association can actually increase its overall success. There are a variety of different ways your association can provide hands-on learning for your members. Some of our favorite opportunities come in the forms of workshops, instructor-led courses or fellowship programs.

Let’s look at what IAFC does in terms of “all hands on deck” learning for their members. IAFC holds an L-Course Series, which helps members build their skills through lecture and hands-on learning. Certain courses require members to be put in situations to learn ethical decision making, team building and communications responsibilities.

Your association can easily incorporate hands-on learning at your next event or conference. If you are giving a demonstration on a certain topic, encourage members to join in and get a feel for what you’re doing. Teaching your members how to perform a specific task will improve their motor skills and help them retain the information. Don’t take hands-on learning for granted. Create more options for members to dive into hands-on educational activities.

Online learning

Looking to appeal to members who are not local to your association? Online learning could be what your association is looking for. The online learning section of the IAFC website is a great place for their members to pinpoint where exactly they can find educational materials. IAFC does a great job of keeping their online education organized, easy to find, and easy to navigate- not just for members, but for potential buyers as well. The world wide web is a great place, and it’ll help you educate your members right from your computer. Online learning provides easy to access educational opportunities for members in order to strengthen career and specialized skills.

Members can benefit from your online learning resources directly from their own home, which makes this strategy flexible and accessible to members all over the state and country.  You can create online courses for members to study, which could be individual or group based. This gives members new content to absorb, teaches them new skills and sets them on a new learning path. Another branch of online learning that deserves its own spotlight is the notion of educational video content...

Video content

Did you know that 55% of people watch videos online every day? That’s right, over half of the world’s population is consuming video content daily. And if your association isn’t cashing in on these results, it needs to.

Adding in educational video outlets like webinars, podcasts and online tutorials can create endless opportunities for your association’s members to learn. With valuable content on a medium everyone can get behind, it’s clear that implementing educational video content as a membership benefit is highly valuable. Webinars are a great way to enlighten your members on a specific topic over video. Using a tool like Facebook Live puts a spin on a webinar and makes the experience more interactive for your members, since they can react and comment on the video.

Creating a video Q&A on important education questions is another great way to add learning into your benefits. You can even post videos answering frequently asked questions and give insight on topics you want your members to know about. For example, IAFC uploads videos about public safety, fire policies and reducing firefighters exposure to toxic environments.

IAFC has implemented solid education resources for their members to benefit and learn from. Their members have learned life-saving information from their association that they can take with them for the rest of their life. That type of value is something every association should want to provide for their membership. Educating your members with these three strategies is a great way to make sure your members are retaining the information your association provides.