aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

Are You Following Up?

Posted by Ellen on January 20, 2010

How much of your budget is spent on the learning event itself — the face-to-face part, the cost of the developing the online course, or conducting a Webinar?

How much of your budget is devoted to pre-work? How much is devoted to post-event activities, other than testing for certification?

My guess is very little, if any.

Too bad.

Research shows that attendees can rapidly lose what they learned. Even when they go immediately back to the workplace and begin applying their learning, chances are very good they are only applying part of what they learned — the new skills they most needed, or the new concepts that most intrigued them.

According to Jack Zenger, Joe Folkman, and Robert Sherwin, more than 75% of the learning that takes place occurs during the pre- and post-event phases. Of that, 50% occurs in follow-up.

Yes.  Only 24% of learning occurs during the learning event itself. Yet that segment of the learning process gets the monster portion — if not all — of our resources.


You say you can’t afford to divert half of your budget to follow up?

That’s okay.

You can do plenty with few resources.

What if your face-to-face instructors were asked to post just one follow-up e-mail a month asking the event attendees to “Reply All” with what they’ve been doing around Learning Objective 1 or 2 or 3?

What if you asked attendees to offer one additional resource on Topic A or B or C and post those to a social bookmark site?

What if you provided a way for everyone to post links to articles or other resources they’ve found online to a special networking space devoted to this event?

What if you asked everyone to jot down their AHA! moments, then asked someone to volunteer to collect them and post them to a wiki for everyone to see and share?

And what if attendees who attend the next session and the one after that and so on could meet online occasionally to share what they learned?

What are the ways you — as a learner — continue to keep your new knowledge and skills alive and kicking? Can you implement those tactics for your members? How can you help them build their own PLE — personal learning environment?

We’re either about setting up one event after another without looking back, or we’re about helping our members to learn and grow. The original event sets the foundation but it should never be our only delivery mode. Otherwise we need to get out of the education field and into meeting planning.

Which are you — an educator or a meeting planner? Don’t get me wrong — I’m not attacking meeting planners. See “I Am NOT a Meeting Planner” from 2008 for more… Just be sure you know when you’ve got to wear which hat if you need to wear one of each. Otherwise, you’ll show up at the wrong event wearing the wrong accessories, and then where will you be?

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