Many organizations aren’t having the success they would like with online education. The Metal Treating Institute (MTI), isn’t one of them and it is largely because of the dynamic, forward-thinking leadership of CEO, Tom Morrison.
In this episode of the Leading Learning Podcast – part of our ongoing “C-series” – Jeff talks with Tom about the do’s and don’ts of implementing a successful e-learning program, the importance of offering certificates, and how associations need to evolve in order to meet the needs of their members.
Listen to the Show
Read the Show Notes
[00:20] – Make sure to check out the Leading Learning Symposium, an event designed specifically for senior leaders at organizations in the business of lifelong learning, continuing education, and professional development. The symposium takes place this year on October 24-25 in Baltimore, Maryland.
[01:23] – A preview of what will be covered in this podcast where Jeff interviews Tom Morrison, CEO of the Metal Treating Institute (MTI), about the success his organization has had with online learning and certificates.
[02:55] – An introduction to Tom and some background information about MTI.
[04:43] – MTI has been successful with online education but a lot of organizations are not having the success they would like with this. Tell us about what you’ve been doing with e-learning and what’s made it successful for you. Tom describes the challenge he was tasked with when he was first hired at MTI to get their courses online—and to begin generating income and gain mass appeal. He says the LMS they used had a pricing structure that allowed them to do corporate membership. He talks about the dramatic increase in revenue and participation this has brought with a system that pretty much runs itself.
[07:31] – Are people in your industry required to take training? Tom explains that there aren’t mandated sets of CE’s but that they must have a training mechanism and program in place that’s quantifiable. He says they handled the strategy a little bit differently which caused them to see great success within their framework and get the level of activity that they now have.
[08:43] – What was your strategy that beat out the other organizations? Tom says the two things that will generate all success in your program are: 1) certificate programs and 2) paying attention to the younger generation who have been influenced by videogames and like to achieve different levels. He talks about some of the trainings available at MTI and explains how they are offered in modules, which appeals to both the younger generation (because everything builds on each other) and older generation (because they can take them in smaller increments when they have time).
[10:00] – Tom elaborates on the importance of offering certificates and says people don’t buy education, they buy accomplishments, which MTI has become the industry standard for. He also talks about cost strategy as the other big thing you need in order to be successful with online learning and expands on how MTI has been able to achieve market penetration.
[11:05] – Are you seeing more competition now? And in anticipation of more competition, what do you feel you need to do strategically? Tom shares that they are continuing to build training programs that meet the needs of their members. They are in the process of building a mini associates degree/apprenticeship, which is an example of how they are being agile in the industry.
[12:22] – A further discussion about the benefit of offering a certificate program to recognize accomplishments.
[13:20] – You mentioned offering a mini associates degree–have you established relationships with community colleges/technical schools? Tom says at this point they haven’t but they may do so in the future. There has been interest in getting courses approved for credit hours toward an engineering degree because currently, there aren’t any courses available on heat-treating.
[15:47] – What advice do you give leaders at other organizations who are trying to make e-learning work? Tom suggests finding out what members need to know in order to be successful (at a base level, 2.0 and 3.0 level). Once you have that outlined, see what content you already have and create meaningful certificates. He shares an example of work he did at the Florida Society of Association Executives to illustrate the importance of offering something that will make members more credible and marketable.
[18:28] – What other ways are you providing education (in a formal or less formal way) to promote learning/grow knowledge in the industry you serve? Tom says many organizations jump into webinars but he explains why it makes more sense to upload content and let people view it whenever they want. He adds that by offering technical training online, they have now been able to focus their chapter/national meetings on leadership and building high performing teams.
[20:22] – You seem to make a lot of use of video and you built your website on a community platform — Can you explain how video and community factor into how you are engaging with your membership base? Tom shares how he first used video to help people get to know him and earn trust when he took over in his position. He explains how they have continued to use video at MTI in order to create impactful/emotional connections. He says that all of their highlight videos encompass music, messaging, and testimonies to get people to emotionally attach to who they are. (See clip shown on MTI website)
[23:30] – As somebody very involved in the association sector, from your perspective, particularly in the area of learning/education, how do associations need to be evolving at this point? Tom shares a couple visuals to help explain this. One visual is to imagine a radar screen with little dots to represent threats that you’d see (demographic changes, technology shifts, etc.) and he says you need to continue to look on your radar to identify things that could disrupt how you do business. The other visual he has created to illustrate this is shaped like a triangle—the center is “member focused”, and on each of the 3 sides: “maximize member value”, “maximize engagement”, and “the wow factor”.
[26:29] – Tom talks about what associations need to stop doing in order to improve their value proposition.
[27:11] –What do you do for your own lifelong learning? Tom shares that he is an active member of FSAE and ASAE and that he speaks a lot to associations around the country, which requires a great amount of preparation. He reveals that it his passion to help others stay ahead of the curve.
[29:16] – How to connect with Tom and MTI:
To contact Tom and find out more about him: https://www.tommorrison.biz/
[30:02] – Wrap-Up
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[31:40]- Sign off