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Education Resources for Associations: 4 Trends to Keep an Eye On

Education is a huge component in your association’s benefits, your association should be able to bring members the latest in educational resources to keep them up to date, engaged, and ready for more.

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It’s always a great idea to keep up with moving trends, especially when they relate to your association and its members. Education is a huge component in your association’s benefits (if it isn’t, here’s why it should be), your association should be able to bring members the latest in educational resources to keep them up to date, engaged, and ready for more.

Education resources can help your members get the best information on their desired industry or profession. It’s a great way to attract a younger audience to your association (think millennials) and it can serve as an enticing resource for your current members. With a win-win situation in sight, it’s essential your association stays sharp to bring educational resources that are modern and trendy. With the world of technology and education always shifting, let’s take a look at a few learning trends that are catching the eyes of audiences everywhere. These trends are sure to excite your members and bring a new, young professional audience to your association- hopefully increasing your membership in the long run. Keep reading to see what educational trends you should keep an eye on.

Social Learning

Social media is no secret tool to associations. In fact, these days it seems like everyone is active on one social platform or another. But with that much engagement power out there in the world of social media, it begs the question:

What can social media do to help you educate members and provide them enrichment on topics of their interest?

HigherLogic determined to answer that question in their 38-page report, all about the idea of social learning. The report was a non-statistical online survey that asked membership organizations questions about the way they use social technologies, as well as many other fields. The survey was designed to see exactly how associations are putting social technologies to use, especially when it came to educational opportunities.

The survey concluded that 37.2% of associations use social technologies to support learning. And if your association isn’t one of them, it’s time to get on board.

Implementing social learning is a great way to give members tools that they’re already familiar with using. It helps you implement learning experiences and give members an educational benefit to use all through the help of social sources. But how can your association even get started with social learning?

Here’s a great example: Consider providing members with a social platform that allows them to chat amongst one another on topics. You can have chat rooms dedicated to your virtual events, online workshops, or any other educational tool you already use. This way, members are able to learn off one another, engaging and networking in the process. You can also hold educational discussions through videos shared on social platforms. Which brings us to our next trend…

Virtual Classes

We’ve covered the value of virtual events for associations in the past, but let’s talk about a trend that’s much more hands on for education purposes: Virtual classes.

Virtual classes are great for associations who have a large membership base, are a national (or even global) organization, or who have members scattered throughout the country. It’s a way to give all of your members a chance to brush up on a topic they may want to learn more about.

The best part is, virtual classes can be as low budget or as high budget as you want. Based on the tools (and possible video content) your association already has, you can create your virtual classes in the same way.

Host your virtual classes based on topics you think members would like to learn more about. Or, an even better solution is to survey your members and see what they’d like to learn from your association. This way, you know exactly what to teach to keep members satisfied. If you’re looking for an example of a great virtual learning space, you can check out Wistia’s free video resources. They do a great  job of creating digestible video content that educates while entertaining.

However, if you’re new to the video content scene and are looking for ways to make things easy on your association, you can use helpful social platforms like YouTube, Facebook’s live feature, or any other video hosting platform that can make broadcasting your lessons easy.

Virtual classes are a trendy way to keep learning alive and well within your association’s membership.

3. Hands-on opportunities

Getting your members all in the same place and allowing them to learn by in-person experiences is something that will never go out of style. 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.

So, getting your members into some hands-on opportunities is a must, especially with educational topics.

Consider hosting a professional learning event for your members. Include activities like career workshops, interactive guest speakers, and time to get to know your attendees. Give members a variety of learning opportunities to look forward to.

In your activities, be sure to make them interactive for members. After all, the entire point of hands-on learning is giving members the ability to do things on their own and get a sense of the knowledge being put to use. You can even turn your learning events into a series, or an annual tradition. For example, in an interview we did with the CEO of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), we learned they host a learning series called the L-Course Series. This series offered members a chance to learn through both lectures and hands-on opportunities that involved ethical-choice making, team building, and much more.

Consider applying a similar approach to your association’s hands-on learning and see how you can put learning in your members hands while keeping to modern educational trends.

4. Personalized learning

If personalizing your outreach messages helps gets members engaged, then personalizing your education should have the same effect.

Try creating educational resources that are specific to your members. Personalize lessons, content, or supplements based around what their needs are and what they want to know more about. This will not only help your members learn, it’ll also show them you care about their interests. You can do this by sending out personalized emails to members containing content you think they’d enjoy. This way, you’re reaching them on a personal level and hand picking pre-made content that matches their interests. And the best part- you don’t have to spend all of your time creating person-specific content, just emails! Or, if you want to take it up a level, you can ask members what classes or workshops they’d like to see. By getting guidance from them, you can then create lessons based on their answers.

Want to have members join the fun? Invite them to host one of your association’s virtual seminars or online classes. You can have them share their insight with the rest of your membership - giving them a place in the spotlight! With these 4 trends under your association’s belt, you can make sure you stay on top of things and constantly give your members the latest in professional resources.