Report: Where Association Learning Technology Is Going

The latest edition of Tagoras' Association Learning + Technology report finds that emerging learning technology is out there, but the problem is that organizations don't have an effective strategy to put it into play.

In the association space, nearly everyone does webinars as part of their digital learning arsenal. But what about all the other online education options out there?

“Association Learning + Technology 2017,” a new report from Tagoras sponsored by Community Brands, makes the case that many associations have yet to work emerging kinds of learning into their offerings—though many are looking into it.

Tagoras, which surveyed 203 association professionals, found that more than 90 percent of organizations were using technology to help push their education programs forward, with around two-thirds of organizations (66.9 percent) having a learning management system. And many organizations are getting serious about mobile as well, with 49.7 percent of respondents saying they provide a mobile version of their educational offerings.

But while the survey highlights great strides made in the association space since Tagoras conducted its first Association Learning + Technology report in 2008, the latest report highlighted some places for improvement—specifically with emerging technologies such as massive open online courses (MOOCs), flipped classes, gamified learning, microcredentials, and microlearning.

Fewer than a third of organizations do any of these things, though microcredentials (like digital badges) and microlearning (or brief learning experiences) show potential for growth in the next year among many respondents. In fact, 30.1 percent of respondents say they already offer microlearning, a jump from 18.1 percent in the 2016 survey.

However, the report suggests that many of these emerging technologies have struggled to turn a corner because of strategy. The survey results were stark: 37.7 percent of respondents said they had a formal strategy for their learning and education businesses, while just 23 percent said they had a strategy for how technology will be used in learning. Additionally, just 30.2 percent said they had a formal development process for their education offerings.

“That only a slice of associations are deliberate and formal about strategy for both their learning and education business overall and their use of technology for learning points to a huge opportunity for growth,” the report states. “That those that offer education in support of a credential are much more likely to have a strategy for their learning business points to the value of a strategy in higher-stakes education.”

The report adds that organizations that don’t improve technology-based education offerings “risk losing learners—and members—to competition that sees the opportunity in educational products delivered or enhanced by technology.”

In a news release, Tagoras Managing Director Celisa Steele emphasized that there was room to improve the use of learning technology at many organizations.

“We are encouraged by the widespread adoption of learning technologies in the continuing education and professional development market,” Steele said, “but we are eager to see organizations move to a greater level of maturity in using these technologies as part of their learning businesses. Our hope is that we are now entering into a phase when strategy and impact will become a much bigger focus.”

The full report is available on the Tagoras website.

(Sam Edwards/OJO Images/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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