aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

aLearning Survey Results Summary

Posted by Ellen on February 4, 2008

Development Teams 

One of the things I’ve been curious about is whether associations outsource much of their online learning development, and whether there’s a relationship between size of the organization and whether they outsource.  Of the survey respondents, the majority (64%) said they outsource the technical aspects of their Webinars, while only 18% handle these tasks in-house (a team directly employed by the association). 

Equal numbers of respondents report outsourcing the development of their asynchronous offerings than those who report developing them in-house (27% for each).

No clear correlation could be found between the size of the association (and number of dedicated education professionals on the staff) to whether an association outsources certain aspects of the online learning program.  Organizations report working with their volunteers, the staff, and vendors in several combinations as they develop online offerings. 

It is clear that when it comes to the technical side of conducting a Webinar, most associations are more comfortable hiring a service than handling this aspect on their own.

Survey Conclusions

Although the sample size was far too small to draw any conclusions for trade associations in general (and those primarily affiliated with colleges and universities in particular), this basic survey provides a neat snapshot of online learning in some organizations.

In looking at the snapshot, a few things come into sharp focus:

  • Size of the organization and its staff does not drive the investment in people nor dollars when it comes to online learning.  Most organizations devote 10% of their education program budget to online learning, regardless of the number of individual members served.
  • Organizations tend to offer synchronous, live Webinars and similar events prior to venturing into asynchronous learning options.  The transition is usually from live Webinars to recorded/archived Webinars to stand-alone courses.
  • Few of the associations responding to this survey are blending synchronous and asynchronous delivery options.  When they do, they tend to be on a program-specific basis, rather than part of a broader, curriculum-based strategy.
  • Most associations plan to expand their online learning offerings in the next year.  About half expect to increase their budgets to accommodate this expansion, and a few have even hired an additional staff member to assist with the heavier workload more online learning will create.
  • Associations responding to the survey generally indicated careful planning and a deliberate pace in developing their online learning programs.  Assessment of the success of current or previous offerings was noted in several cases as the driving force behind either moving forward or taking stock before doing so.

Do these results jibe with your association’s current online learning status?  Future plans?  Post a comment and let us know! 

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