Membership

Toastmasters International Modernizes its Education Program

By / Jul 3, 2018 (Handout photo)

With an aim to better serve its members who were wanting different kinds of education delivered in different formats, Toastmasters launched the Pathways learning experience.

Last month, Toastmasters International announced the launch of its Pathways learning experience. This marks the first complete redesign of the Toastmasters education program since its founding in 1924.

“As we all know, the world has changed massively in the last 10 years [and] at a more rapid pace than at any other time in the world’s history,” said Daniel Rex, Toastmasters International CEO. “But we also knew that along with this change, our members were wanting different things delivered in different ways.”

Those new requests included more real-world skills or “things that were easily applicable to their work, their community, or even their family,” according to Rex. They were also interested in receiving learning through different formats—and not just on paper.

With those requests in mind, Toastmasters got to work on building Pathways, an online platform that allows users to choose from 10 different paths, including presentation mastery, motivational strategies, and team collaboration.

The new online platform will replace Toastmasters’ previous print-based education, but it’s flexible enough to allow for different learning styles. While users can engage in Pathways through its video and e-learning, Rex said they can also print out a PDF version where they are able to write and put notes in the margin.

In addition to the new delivery method, Toastmasters has also broadened its learning content to include online communication. For instance, there is how-to content related to creating podcasts, writing blogs, and conducting webinars. Although the Toastmasters brand is still very focused on public speaking, Rex said “communication is multifaceted, and we have to address all facets of communications in our learning programs.”

Toastmasters started considering a major revamp of its education program back in 2010, and last year started rolling it out, first in the north-central region of California, then in Malaysia and Indonesia with translation in Simplified Chinese. “We wanted to get to the other side of the world and make sure that we were fine with time zones and cloud delivery,” Rex said. Currently, Pathways is translated into nine different languages.

Along the way, Toastmasters received feedback from members about things they were finding effective and things that could stand to be improved. Rex said that Toastmasters has stayed nimble and made adjustments to Pathways as needed, which has allowed them to achieve usage rates that have exceeded their expectations.

“Our ultimate goal was to provide all of our current members and future members with a stronger educational experience that prepares them to be more effective communicators and leaders wherever they choose to go,” Rex said.

Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. More »

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