10 May Is Your Association Taking Advantage of E-Learning?
If you think e-learning, or courses taken over the Internet, is only for assisting with your own continuing education, think again. E-learning is gaining ground as the best way for busy professionals to increase knowledge. Therefore, it’s a fabulous way for any association to grow membership and increase revenue. Here are six tips to keep in mind if you think offering online classes might be right for your organization.
Make Classes Relevant
The first thing associations need to do when starting to offer e-classes is to make sure the content is what the membership actually needs. Take the time to go through feedback and suggestions from conferences. Have members requested workshops or talks on certain topics?
Another way to ascertain what constitutes relevant coursework is to survey members and prospective members (remember, this is a way to gain new people). You can send out an email survey, place physical surveys around your meetings, and link to questions on your website for all who visit.
Create Classes That Work With Hectic Schedules
The busier your membership, the more you need to provide classes that work with crowded calendars. Self-paced learning is ideal, if it fits the subject matter.
You can make courses and materials affordable for attendees and yet still profitable for your association by charging a reasonable fee for e-books or download-and-print manuals that participants can work through on their own when they have time.
If live classes are a must, make sure to schedule them for times when members are most likely to be available (another good survey question). Offering the choice of two or more times is ideal, so participants can select the one that’s most convenient. Whenever possible, offer a recording of the class for people who miss it or when information is dense and notetaking might interfere with listening.
Offer Personal Engagement With Instructors
Membership associations thrive when they provide mentoring and career advice, especially when trying to recruit younger members who need help climbing the professional ladder. So, if you can provide an element of that in your e-learning, you’ll make your classes more attractive.
There are multiple ways of implementing more person-to-person engagement:
- Building question-and-answer sessions into the end of class time
- Having students submit questions before each class
- Holding “office hours” with the instructor, where participants can drop in (can be virtual)
- Hosting virtual social gatherings to chat about course material
- Giving the instructor’s email for additional questions
- Offering tiered tuition, where the highest payment level includes a private or small group mentoring session
- Setting up private Facebook groups for questions and discussion
Provide Something Your Competition Does Not
If you hope to make e-learning a way to compete with similar associations, you need to offer courses that are unique and add value for participants. Therefore, take a look at what kind of classes, if any, your competitors are offering.
Check out not just the content of any classes but the price as well. What do participants get for their money? How can you either provide more or charge less to make your e-courses more appealing?
Finally, just as you started with a survey, you need to end with one. Once you complete an e-course, always survey the students to see what they thought.
If you get rave reviews, great. But if they have issues, go back and tweak the class to reflect feedback. Offer a discount on the next class for participants willing to provide suggestions, and you’ll show your association is responsive and takes its e-learning mission seriously.