2011 aLearning Association Survey Results Summary — Part 1
Posted by Ellen on October 11, 2011
A heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who completed the recent aLearning Survey for Associations and to those who helped promote it! We were thrilled to see more respondents to this survey than those in the past, although we were disappointed that we didn’t achieve the numbers desired for it to be a reliable benchmark.
Even so, the results are revealing and worth a close look. Those of you hoping to use the results as a benchmark will find some valuable insights as you compare your elearning status to other organizations.
It was clear at the start that one of the Profile questions might not have been worded correctly for accurate responses. We’d hoped to get some kind of ratio for the number of paid staff members to the number of members served (in the case of trade organizations, individuals served, rather than institutions). But when we saw organizations listing their size as “1001-3000” saying they had 100 (in one case ) and 300 (in another) staff members fully dedicated to education, we knew something was off. And when we saw an organization of 1-500 members say they have an education staff of 300, we guessed that these responses weren’t very reliable. (It’s possible volunteer-driven associations serving education see all of their volunteer education leaders as staffers… but that’s just a guess for why the numbers seem off.)
Despite some outliers, generalities can be made.
That said, here’s the first installment of a series covering the results of the 2011 aLearning Association Survey.
Organization Size and Education Staffing
Some respondents completed the initial profile information, then opted out of the additional pages for various reasons (in one case, the respondent was a vendor and realized her responses would skew results). Respondents who did not complete the full survey have been omitted from this summary.
The single largest group of respondents came from organizations representing more than 10,000 individuals, and the second largest group serves 1001-3000 members. Generally, the respondents were pretty evenly spread across all sizes of organizations. Organizations representing more than 10,000 individual members were asked to note the specific number, and (of those responding) these ranged from 20,000 up to 180,000.
You’d expect this would mean that these organizations are also all over the board in their other responses, and you’d be right.
We asked how many staff members in the respondents’ organizations are dedicated full-time to education, including directors, meeting planners, and support personnel. The numbers were all over the place, as already mentioned, so we have to be careful in interpreting the answers. But here’s what’s intersting:
1-500 members: 1-5 education staff members
1001-3000: 0-200 (or take your pick: 0-100; 0-15)
10000+: 1/2 – 100+
Talk about all over the place! If we take the most conservative numbers, staff members could be representing anywhere from 50-80,000 individuals! That’s quite a range. (The 80,000 number comes from a respondent who listed individuals served as 40,000 with one person dedicated 1/2 time to education.)
What surprised me the most about these results was the number of respondents who didn’t know what percentage of their organization’s overall budget is dedicated to education. Also surprising were those who said they didn’t know whether their education funding would be increased, decreased, or stay the same in the next year. (More on this in a future post.)
Here are the ranges from those who did answer:
1-500 members: 5-70% of the organization’s budget is dedicated to education
Budget is always rough territory — so much depends on the organization’s mission and how critical education is in supporting the organizational strategy. So we expected some range within these numbers.
The question is: what are you doing with those funds, and how are you deciding what to do with them?
So let’s take a closer look at two specific respondents from the 1-500 member category:
- Respondent 19 said their education funding is just 5% of the overall budget. They have 1 individual fully dedicated to education, yet they offer up to 11 online synchronous and 2 blended events each year. They’ve tried social learning but haven’t fully implemented it. They expect their education funding to increase in the next budget cycle.
- Respondent 15 said their education funding is 70% of their overall budget, but they aren’t doing any synchronous, asynchronous, nor blended learning events (including Webinars). Their focus (it seems) is completely on in-person, face-to-face events. They expect their education budget to remain the same for the next year. Like Respondent 19, they have one fully-dedicated education staff member. They’re doing a bit more with social learning by incorporating it with some of their face-to-face events.
Of course, lots of unknowns are in play here: even a 5% budget can be larger than someone else’s 70%… educational needs aren’t always best met online… etc etc.
Unless Respondent 15’s organization is reaching 100% of their membership with face-to-face events (and maybe they are) they could be leveraging online learning more effectively than they are. Do they have a plan? No. Does Respondent 19 have a strategic plan for their organization’s educational offerings? Yes. (And which organization is getting an increase in funding?!?)
Maybe this is the real difference between the two.
Anticipated Budget Changes
What about the organizations’ expectations regarding whether their budget will increase, decrease, or stay the same?
1-500: 50% of respondents expect an increase; 50% expect their budget to remain the same
501-1000: 50% increase; 50% stay the same
1001-3000: 60% increase; 30% stay the same; 10% decrease
3001-6000: 100% stay the same
6001-10000: 75% increase; 25% stay the same
10000+: 30% increase; 70% stay the same
In a time of cutbacks all around, it’s great to see educational initiatives holding their own — or, even better — their funding be increased. We can guess that this means more organizations are appreciating the value that good educational programming brings to the organization.
So what are organizations doing with their money when it comes to elearning and social learning?
Details on those next time….
This entry was posted on October 11, 2011 at 12:28 am and is filed under aLearning Strategies, aLearning Surveys, aLearning Trends, Financing eLearning, Justifying aLearning, Online Learning in General. Tagged: aLearning, benchmarking, business planning, elearning strategy, strategic planning, surveys. 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.