Learners Want Transformation—What Does It Take to Deliver?


Trendspotters are great, but trendsetters are golden. Tracy King, MA, CAE, CEO and Chief Learning Strategist at InspirED, is one of those innovators. She sees education from a holistic perspective that is both unique in the association space and critical to our future success. Tracy recently spoke at Solutions Day, .orgCommunity’s signature event. Everyone who heard her presentation, Workforce Disruptions and What They Mean for Your CE/CME Business Model, is looking at their CE delivery with a more inspired eye. If you weren’t able to attend, here’s a snapshot of Tracy’s insights.

Find Opportunity in Disruption
The word “disruption” appears in every playbook. It’s so pervasive that it’s almost jargon. But there’s a reason for that, the winds of change are blowing hard enough to rate getting a name, like a hurricane. Don’t board up the windows just yet though. Along with the rough weather comes opportunity for those who are prepared to seize it. As an example, Tracy sites Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Their electronic competition already crunches the numbers better, faster and smarter. Seeing this coming, the profession is preparing to strengthen the human side of their business, expanding consulting and advisory capabilities.

Look Up and Out
To put educational programming in the sweet spot, begin by considering these socio/economic impacts:

  •  The freelance economy
    One in three Millennials has a side gig, and by 2020, 50 percent of employees will be participating in the freelance economy. Educate around maximizing the potential of this new workforce.
  • Demographics
    Boomers are retiring, but there aren’t enough Gen Xers to fill their jobs. The Millennials are queuing up for those spots. They are long on enthusiasm but short on leadership experience. Provide knowledge that helps newbies to quickly grow in professionalism.
  • Artificial Intelligence
    The jobs that are unchanged by AI and technology will be as obsolete as dial phones and typewriters. Focus on discovering and building human skills that augment, extend and customize technology.
  • The need to collaborate
    Younger learners want to participate in their education. Platforms should be interactive and allow for collaboration.
  • Acceleration
    Google is a big competitor, and it never sleeps. Make education available 24/7.

Grow Market Share
Yes, some associations have certification programs. But associations are cosmic dust in the universe of professional development. Tracy shared these statistics from the Association for Talent Development: corporate training is a $160 billion industry in North America, and worldwide it’s a $355 billion budget. Sixty percent of that budget is dedicated to in-house training. Another 30 to 40 percent goes to outside providers who license their educational content and bring training programs in-house. The remaining 10 to 13 percent is allocated to tuition reimbursement, including graduate programs and other advanced training that corporations provide for their employees. Universities have the resources to design courses and certification and the desire to generate additional revenue. They are partnering with corporations to create new learning initiatives.

ATD doesn’t include associations in their workforce development research, and associations are just a bit player in the overall certification industry. Yet, Tracy sees opportunity, even in this crowded space. Licensing content can be a good place to start. Identifying partnerships that leverage organizational skills to provide products, as well as customers, is another strategy. Association vendors can be potential collaborators. They are already offering publications, conferences and individualized training. LMS systems are even being bundled with licensed content.

As you consider a strategy, it’s important to keep all the players in mind. Your members, themselves, are another competitor. Self-initiated learning from sources such as Amazon, LinkedIn Learning, Coursera and other individualized training programs are hugely popular. A learning model developed at the Center for Creative Leadership suggests that 70 percent of all learning is acquired through life experience and problem solving which should be foundational to any learning program, 20 percent comes from feedback, observation and role-models, and just 10 percent can be attributed to formal training.

Take a Holistic Approach
Cutting a clear path through the education maze is critical to arriving at a successful outcome. Tracy emphasizes the need to define how your programs will deliver value against the competition. She recommends making education a holistic concept that is woven into every organizational activity. Technology should be leveraged with in-person expertise. This comprehensive approach creates a family of programs that intersect rather than a disparate collection of courses. Consider who you could partner with to expand these connections beyond your organization and develop more robust programming. Can you partner with employers to provide licensed content? Can you get a seat at the table with corporations and universities?

Delivering knowledge is not enough. Learners are seeking impact. They don’t want to be talked at, they want to have a dialogue and to grow and improve as a result of that conversation. Learning design is a path toward offering that powerful experience. Working with an instructional designer can ensure that all the components of a strong educational process—connection, reflection, feedback and application—are included in your programs. New professionals want credentials to demonstrate that they are growing their careers. Learning needs to be a transformational experience that occurs over the life of a career. With that goal driving your educational strategy, there is ample room for opportunity—even in the eye of a hurricane named disruption.

To hear more amazing speakers like Tracy, register for .orgCommunity’s Leading Innovation Summit on February 28 at The Rose Hotel, Rosemont–Illinois’ newest contemporary property.


Tracy’s Sneak Peaks—Education Resources Leaders Should Know About

  • Credential Engineis a suite of services that creates a centralized registry to house up-to-date information about all credentials, a common description language to enable comparability, and a platform to support customized applications to search and retrieve information. Employees can assess what is available to pursue and employers can identify benchmarks for hiring.
  • Degreedis an education technology company that allows users to learn, develop and measure their skills. A wide variety of courses and certifications are offered. Corporations integrate with the site to access professional development for their employees. It is also used by individuals for skill-building.
  • Velsoftoffers a comprehensive library of training materials that cover soft business and IT skills. Customers can deliver content to their staff or students, using materials that can be edited to suit any training situation or audience. Velsoft training solutions provides relevant content to customers allowing them to avoid the costly and time-consuming process of developing their own educational materials.

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