aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

And the Winners Are… Not Us!

Posted by Ellen on October 19, 2008

Brandon Hall has posted the 2008 Excellence in Learning Awards winners….

… and ASTD has announced winners of the Eighth Annual BEST Awards (you’ll need to join ASTD to see the descriptions of why each organization, but at least you can see the listing of organizations that won online).

Ready? Close your eyes if you don’t want to see a repeat from last year. Okay, here goes:


“Our” = training initiatives from within the association world.

If it’s indeed true (someone provide me with the documentation for this, please) that associations are responsible for more training than the corporate world, then why isn’t the education that takes place within associations being honored? 

Don’t most people join associations for professional development through networking and education? I’d even argue that research data, benchmarking, white papers, and other membership benefits are part of PD — aren’t we able to perform our jobs better when we have good research and other resources at hand?

I tried entering the BEST Awards when our asynchronous course went live. They refunded my money, telling me that entries had to be about internal training — training for direct employees. That’s too bad, becuase as I filled out the application form, I was amazed at what we accomplish: two full-time, dedicated education staff members reach thousands of association members, providing over a dozen educational programs each year, at amazing value. Maybe those amazing statistics (cost per learner, ratio of staff to learners, etc.) that triggered the ASTD folks to contact me — I challenge any corporation to accomlish with their employee training what associations are able to do for their members. And on our budget, no less!

Yes, most of the innovative training is happening within corporations. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t an interesting landscape, that the view of training from our association mountaintop isn’t as awe-inspiring.

If only we had a way to show it off!

4 Responses to “And the Winners Are… Not Us!”

  1. Jeff Cobb said

    Ellen – To be honest, I’m not actually convinced that “most of the innovative training is happening within corporations” – well, “training” maybe, learning no. In any case, I couldn’t agree more with your main point. I think the fundamental value of the educational opportunities that associations offer society – at least in the U.S. – is sadly undervalued, and to no small extent, in my opinion, by associations themselves. I feel like this is an area that is simply ripe for growth, achievement, and yes, recognition. Perhaps we need to set up our own awards – and start making the case for how important “external” education is?! – Jeff

  2. Ellen said

    Jeff — Thanks for your comment! I’ll stand by my opinion that corporate America is way ahead of associations in terms of innovative use of technology and the Web for training — they have more money to spend and usually more people and other resources to dedicate to online training. Their use of high-end simulations, integrated training platforms (that link classroom space reservations, book orders, online options, and other learning components) is the result of huge investments in keeping an increasingly international workforce up to speed.

    I do agree with you that what we do in associations is under the radar and undervalued. You’re also right that associations are growing in this area and have all kinds of elbow room as they do so.

    And I completely support having our own association learning awards! You’d make a great judge!

  3. […] by Ellen on November 2, 2008 Jeff Cobb’s comment to my previous post raises a great issue: all the work we do as educators within the association […]

  4. […] at aLearning is fighting the good fight on that front, giving great advice, debunking myths, and arguing for the respect that association e-learning deserves. Best of all, Ellen actually runs a successful association e-learning program. It’s time you paid […]

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