What’s the future hold for learning and the business of learning? This was the question tackled in a session titled “Facing – and Embracing – the Future of Learning” at the Surge 2017 virtual summit, and this episode of the Leading Learning podcast offers a full replay of that session.
In it, Amanda Beckner (AVIXA, formerly Infocomm International), Josh Goldman (Ohio Society of CPAs), Celisa Steele (Tagoras/Leading Learning), and Jeff Cobb (Tagoras/Leading Learning) explore key trends in the rapidly evolving market for lifelong learning and their implications for trade and professional associations. They discuss how technology is transforming areas like workforce and career development and the role approaches like microlearning and microcredentialing will play in association business models going forward. Listen in to get big, but actionable ideas for taking your learning programs into the future.
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[00:18] – Be sure to check out a new initiative Tagoras has launched in collaboration with 100 Reviews: ReviewMyLMS. The site is now ready to go and the first stage of making it as valuable as possible is to collect reviews. If you contribute a review to the site, you get access to all of the other reviews on the site at no charge. Just go to ReviewmyLMS.com, click “Give a Review,” and follow the instructions for completing the brief questionnaire. You will get the satisfaction of helping out peers at other organizations and you will also have continuing access to reviews of other systems as they come in.
[01:44] – We also want to thank the Founding Sponsors of the ReviewMyLMS site. We feel like the ability to get high quality, dependable reviews from peer organizations has been a gap in the association and broader learning business market for a long time, so we are really excited to know that it will soon be filled with support from the following companies:
[02:28] – Highlighted Resources of the Week:
- Association Virtual Events – a free Tagoras report that draws on data from more than 100 associations to help you understand the emerging role of virtual events in the association sector.
- The AssociationSuccess eBook for “Facing – and Embracing – the Future of Learning.”
[03:50] – A preview of what will be covered in this podcast where Celisa and Jeff provide a recording of the session they delivered at AssociationSuccess’s Surge 2017 virtual summit titled, “Facing – and Embracing – the Future of Learning”. Note that we recently interviewed Arianna Rehak, planner and organizer of the event.
Facing – and Embracing – the Future of Learning
[05:09] – Introductions and brief overview of what will be covered in the session.
I. Microlearning & Microcrendentialing
- 30.1 percent of respondents that use technology for learning offer microlearning and 36.1 percent of this year’s respondents report plans for microlearning in the coming year—so we could have a majority of associations offering microlearning by the end of 2018.
- Microcredentials are offered by 14.8 percent of respondents and 25.3 percent are reporting plans to add microcredentials in the year ahead. So there is a bright future for microcredentialing and they are a natural territory for associations who often already focused on fuller blown credentials and logically connect to microlearning—so the growth in one would seem to drive or encourage growth in the other. And in the world today both make sense. Learners increasingly appreciate and seek out ways to demonstrate their ongoing learning in what we term “the other 50 years”—the typical lifespan after adults leave higher education. And technology—e.g., m-learning—seems fully ready to support microlearning.
[09:38] – Josh shares what the Ohio Society of CPAs (OSCPA) is doing with microlearning and microcredentials as well as why they decided to get involved with micro.
[11:45] – Josh explains how they got started in microlearning, how they have evolved, and the benefits of micro from an application perspective. He also talks about how they are using microlearning and says that about 3% of their customer base are utilizing it, a number he’d like to see grow. They are now looking at the role microlearning plays from a strategy perspective and ways to increase their market penetration/adoption rate.
[15:24] – Josh shares some potential barriers to the adoption of micro including:
- They need to work on the user experience and how to access and find microlearning products.
- The regulatory nature of CPE which makes CPA’s feel they just need it for compliance and to maintain their license—OSCPA is trying to be thought leaders on how to change the way people look at this.
[18:12] – Mandy shares what AVIXA (formerly Infocomm) is doing with microcredentialing including how and why they got started with it. She says, unlike microlearning, it is not small in terms of a timeframe but it is very narrow in scope.
[20:45] – Mandy talks about the adoption and response among stakeholders adding that it just rolled out in June 2017. They are looking at the user experience to help people realize the work that’s involved and also to help the managers. They’ve learned they need to do some more scaffolding in the experience of achieving the microcredential. She also shares some operational type issues they’ve needed to work through.
[24:07] – If you’re thinking about how to apply or begin to adopt microlearning or microcredentials, below are some reflection/discussion questions – to engage in individually or collectively with a group – which may help:
- Look at your current portfolio of offerings. What might you be able to remix as a microcredential or microlearning? If you already offer a certification, would it make sense and be valuable to break it into microcredentials (which might “stack” up into the full-blown credential)? If you already have an in-depth curriculum, can you bits and pieces of it stand on their own?
- How will you position your micro offerings? What’s their unique value, and what’s their relationship to your other, more in-depth credentials and learning experiences? [Hint: the Value Ramp, which we’ll talk about later, may be helpful here.]
- What are the barriers to adding micro to your portfolio? Are there regulatory or mindset limitations you need to address?
II. Workforce Development
[27:11] – Jeff explains that workforce development is really a backdrop to things like microlearning and microcredentialing. He says there’s an issue of people needing to keep their skills up but there are also challenges for employers to both maintain people in their careers and to attract the right talent. He shares some stats around this including:
- Globally, employers report the highest talent shortage since 2007 – From ManpowerGroup’s 2016/2017 Talent Shortage Survey
- 47% percent of jobs in the United States will be significantly impacted or replaced by artificial intelligence and automation within the next decade – From https://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf
- Based on an Economist special report, technology is making it necessary to have a combination of skills or to have “hybrid” skills you are bringing to a job—see the podcast we did on this report and the critical role of lifelong learning as well as our blog post on the topic.
- The amount of training that employers have been providing has been dropping in many instances – also from the Economist special report.
These things are all changing the learning landscape and there seems to be a big role for associations to play in all of it.
[30:37] – Josh talks about how they’re thinking about workforce development and what they’re doing about in their field. He says there are more people than ever graduating with accounting degrees than ever before but the ratio of those that pursue a CPA credential are not growing at the same pace. The other piece is that employers feel that new employees aren’t coming in job ready, mainly due to applicable people/soft skills. He says there’s a tremendous opportunity for associations to play in this as the lifelong learning provider to help employers bridge that gap for employees—Note we talked to Scott Wiley, president and CEO of the Ohio Society of CPAs in a previous podcast episode about the critical role that associations play and how they aren’t recognized for this.
[34:35] – Josh adds that OSCPA is dedicating a number of resources to address the issue of workforce development—they are starting a grassroots effort to change the way the CPA credential is talked about/perceived. They’re also applying the number one power he feels associations have, which is the power to convene.
[36:30] – Mandy discusses what they are doing at AVIXA (formerly Infocomm) about workforce development. Years ago she said they started going to universities with their certification/curriculum trying to figure out a way to get them a part of their programs but nothing happened. A couple of years ago however, they started getting calls from state institutions inquiring about this related to new funding towards education in areas where there were a lot of jobs. There are currently two universities and two different two-year institutions that have degree programs with their curriculum and students graduate with their certifications.
[39:29] – Josh emphasizes the significance of the governor’s office providing funding where there are jobs. He points out that workforce development traditionally had a blue-collar connotation to it but the marketplace is redefining it. Josh encourages everyone state-based to take a look at their in-demand jobs list. He says there are also some interesting resources that could be helpful in solving this issue from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Jeff adds that there is funding out there around this and Josh shares that ASAE foundation has established a task force on workforce development which he expects will be sharing information/resources about it in the coming months.
[41:33] – Below are a few questions to explore on your own or with your team collectively related to this:
- What are the critical knowledge and skills gaps that already exist in your field? What are some of your organizations strongest opportunities for addressing them?
- What new knowledge and skill demands are trends like automation and artificial intelligence likely to create in the coming year(s)?
- What other organizations – including academia and the corporate sector – does it make most sense for you to collaborate with to address workforce development issues?
III. Redefining Value and Business Model
[42:53] – Jeff talks about how everything discussed so far points to the question of value – specifically what is the value that trade and professional associations can provide that’s connected to learning.
[44:29] – Mandy discusses her perspective on the value of learning at AVIXA (formerly Infocomm). She says they are actually changing their membership structure—they’ve done a value proposition study after years of offering online courses for free or at very low cost. They are addressing this by going to a subscription model for their online courses and when you purchase a membership a lot of services will be included. She says this was a big shift for them and caused them to plot the value of a lot of their products and services on the Tagoras Value Ramp™.
[48:09] – Mandy talks about how they were able to revamp their online offerings to provide more value. They’ve also looked at some of their custom offerings including licensing and contract training.
[50:10] – Josh shares they’ve also spent a lot of trying to understand their value proposition and what business they are going to be in. He says the CPE and CPA space is highly competitive and highly commoditized so they are undergoing a complete strategic review of everything related to how learning operates/occurs at OSCPA. They even redefined their overall mission to incorporate more of a blended model—they still focus on the core – the individual CPA – as who they provide value to, but they added “and the employers who employ them”. They’ve been piloting business-to-business enterprise models on membership where the customer is the employer and they’ve been spending a lot of time out in the market with what he calls the “24 inches of truth” – the space across the desk – to get feedback about the society. Josh admits all of this has been eye opening, challenging, and informative but he feels they are on the cusp of a transformational period at their organization about how they create value for the marketplace.
[55:46] – Below are a few questions to explore related to this, either on your own or with your team:
- With the right group of people, go through the process of plotting out your own current Value Ramp™. Where do you see gaps and opportunities?
- Who do you need to be talking to more often or in greater depth to discover ways to create more value for your stakeholders?
[57:07] – Jeff wraps up by saying that they talked about facing and embracing the future of learning from the standpoint of trade and professional associations but emphasizes that we need to empower learners. To do this, modeling is very important so he implores everyone to take a look at the discussion/reflection questions and use all of the available resources in order to take action.
[58:46] – Wrap Up
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[1:00:21]- Sign off