Deciding Not to Learn at Conferences?
Posted by Ellen on September 24, 2010
Remember awhile back when I posted on ASAE’s “Associations and CEOs: A Report on Two Studies During a Down Economy.” [“Why ANY Revenue Increase is a Good Thing”]? It got some followup (and needed correction on an interpretation of the data) from ASAE and — for the record — I’m still convinced the report made some faulty cause-and-effect conclusions.
The good news is that the new report, “Decision to Learn,” seems to clarify things.
According to Lillie R. Albert and Monica Dignam, writing in “Exploring the Decision to Learn,” from the August 2010 issue of Associations Now :
Though face-to face learning is a major preference, it is clear adult learners will participate in distance-learning formats as well. The current abundance of research and experimentation into distance learning by learning providers of all types, from the smallest association to graduate-level academic programs, suggests we are in a period of significant innovation as it applies how learning is delivered. Distance-learning offerings on topics that are easily applied to current problems and needs, are personalized and adapted to the individual learner’s learning style, and readily available and cost-effective will continue to grow.
Leaving aside the reference to “the individual learner’s learning style” as a topic worthy of its own post (when will ASAE finally accept what others are coming to realize, which is that the concept of learning styles is a myth?!?), at least this “Decision to Learn” summary admits that while learners might prefer face-to-face learning, the reality is that they are accessing online learning as well. The report’s own data support this notion: over 51% of respondents reported they attended face-to-face and “distance” learning events in the past year.
But that’s not the startling thing in this report, at least as noted in this summary article. Here’s the sentence that should make people sit up and take notice:
The preferred education format is in person, led by an instructor or presenter but not at a conference, tradeshow, or convention.
Whoa! Think of all those dollars you’re investing in the education sessions at conferences when it’s not the preferred face-to-face learning environment! What will you do about that?
What’s that you say? You’re going to leave your conference with its education sessions alone, despite what the report says? There’s so much other value that members get from it, you say? Too many better reasons to continue to offer it than to abandon it because of some report?
So here’s my conclusion from this report:
- We’ve been doing conferences for years and years, are still trying to figure out the best ways to deliver effective learning via this type of event, and will not give it up.
- We’ve been doing online learning for a very short period of time, are still trying to figure out the best ways to deliver it effectively, and should not give it up, either.
And forgive me, but I can’t help noticing that the two Web ads appearing on the page describing the report are for a major city’s convention and visitors bureau and a major hotel chain, while the Associations Now article Web page has two destination city ads.
Anyway, I applaud ASAE — especially the volunteers who worked behind the scenes on the report — for examining learning in associations. There’s great ammunition here for beleaguered association learning leaders who need something to point to when justifying the value of the educational programs they offer.
But it’s just a start. Now that ASAE has put some real data behind the generally held believe that members find educational events to be a key factor in their affiliation with an association, it makes sense that they provide more support when it comes to professional development.
Maybe an ASAE PD Conference? Oh — wait — people don’t prefer conferences for learning….
What do you think? What was your reaction to the report? Where do you think ASAE should go from here? Where should we go from here?
This entry was posted on September 24, 2010 at 6:26 pm and is filed under aLearning Strategies, eLearning Resources, Justifying aLearning. Tagged: ASAE, Decision to Learn, non-profit education, professional development, research, resources. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.