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  • 1. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNINGMarch 2009 The State of the Sector written by Jeff Cobb and Celisa Steele published by Tagoras www.tagoras.com info@tagoras.com 800.867.2046
  • 2. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Copyright and Disclaimer The Fine Print © 2009 Tagoras, Inc. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. ***** Purchase of Association E-learning 2009: State of the Sector entitles the purchaser to use of a single copy of this document. If the purchaser is an organization, Tagoras authorizes the reproduction of no more than five copies of this document, including electronically transmitting such copies, for use solely by employees of the purchaser. Quoting from this report on a limited basis for the purposes of creating articles, blog posts, and other publications is considered within the realm of “fair use.” Other than as provided for above, no portion of the material copyrighted herein may be reprinted or published in any form without the prior written consent of Tagoras, Inc. To purchase additional copies of this document, please visit http://www.tagoras.com/catalog/association-e-learning-2009.html. ***** The contents of this document are based on data gathered from a variety of sources. While we deem these sources, including subjective estimates and opinions of the report authors, to be reliable, Tagoras does not guarantee the accuracy of the document’s contents and expressly disclaims any liability by reason of inaccurate source materials. 2!COPYRIGHT AND DISCLAIMER
  • 3. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Table of Contents Association E-learning 2009: State of the Sector Executive Summary | 6 Introduction to Association E-learning 2009 | 9 The Overview | 11 ! Participant Demographics 11 ! ! Interviews 12 ! Purpose, Benefits, and Barriers 13 ! Satisfaction with E-learning 16 ! ! Satisfaction in Specific Areas 17 The Operational Perspective | 19 ! Products: What’s Offered 19 ! ! E-learning Products and Services 19 ! ! The Appeal of Webinars 20 ! ! Vignettes and Videos 21 ! ! Process Examples 22 ! Personnel and Tools: Who Gets It Done and How 23 ! ! Job Titles 23 ! ! Adequacy of Resources 24 ! ! Where to Turn for Help 25 ! ! Departments Responsible for E-learning 28 ! ! Prevalence of Outsourcing 28 ! ! The Cost of Expertise 30 ! ! Authoring Tools 31 ! ! Instructional Designers 31 ! Summary 34 ! Trends and Predictions 34 ! Questions to Consider 35 3!TABLE OF CONTENTS
  • 4. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 The Business Perspective | 37 ! The Revenue Imperative 37 ! Strategy 38 ! Return on Investment 39 ! The Impact of the Economy 40 ! Product 41 ! ! Continuing Education and Certification 43 ! Pricing 46 ! ! Pricing Across Industries 46 ! ! Pricing and Formats 46 ! ! Pricing and Age of Program 49 ! ! Pricing Strategy and Models 50 ! ! Discounts 51 ! Distribution 53 ! ! Market Penetration 53 ! Promotion 54 ! ! Relationship with Marketing Department 56 ! Summary 58 ! Trends and Predictions 58 ! Questions to Consider 59 The Technology Perspective | 60 ! End User Concerns 60 ! Webinar Platforms 61 ! Learning Management Systems 63 ! ! LMS and LCMS Packages 65 ! ! Gray Areas 65 ! E-learning and AMSes 66 ! ! LMS/AMS Integration 67 4!TABLE OF CONTENTS
  • 5. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 ! E-learning Guidelines and Standards 68 ! ! Key E-learning Standards in Brief 69 ! Social Media and E-learning 70 ! ! Social Media Tools 72 ! ! Associations Speak About Social Media 73 ! ! Providers Speak About Social Media 74 ! Summary 75 ! Trends and Predictions 75 ! Questions to Consider 75 The State of the Section | 77 Appendix A: Participating Organizations | 84 Appendix B: Survey Data | 85 Appendix C: Survey Methodology | 100 Appendix D: About Tagoras | 102 Case Studies ! Building Internal Capacity—and Interest: Community Associations Institute 27 ! Cultivating Success: Southern Building Material Association 36 ! More Demand for “Fresher,” Shorter Topics: International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans 45 ! Certification Creates Demand; E-learning Assists: National Air Duct Cleaners Association 52 ! Creating New Value—Globally: SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings 62 ! Simple Satisfies (Association of Cable Communicators Chats) 71 5!TABLE OF CONTENTS
  • 6. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Executive Summary Association E-learning 2009: State of the Sector Association E-learning 2009: State of the Sector respondents who indicated that represents a major effort to assess the state of e- their organizations will begin learning in the association market and provide using e-learning in the coming insight into how the role of e-learning in the sector six months, 75.5 percent are may evolve in the coming months and years. from organizations with annual budgets under $5 million, and At the core of the report is a survey of associations 32.7 percent are from conducted at the end of 2008. Nearly 500 organizations with budgets of organizations responded to the survey, providing less than $500,000. The largest extensive data about how they are using e-learning, cluster of these respondents (36 what tools and technologies they employ to create percent) also come from and deliver e-learning, and the business practices organizations with fewer than that support their e-learning initiatives. To 5 staff. This report supplement this data, the report authors conducted represents a in-depth interviews with 20 associations and 12 e- The Operational major effort learning technology and service providers to the Perspective to assess sector. the state of Most of the associations e-learning in surveyed or interviewed for the The Overview this report use a combination association Out of 488 responses to the survey, 61.1 percent of in-house and contract market. were from individuals who indicated their resources to produce their e- organizations are currently using e-learning. An learning offerings, and the additional 26.2 percent indicated they plan to start majority of those offerings take the form of live using e-learning within the coming 6 to 12 months, Webinars. Nearly 70 percent of survey respondents and 12.7 percent indicated that they have no plans who currently use e-learning reported live Webinars to start using e-learning in the coming 12 months. as one of their delivery formats. Recorded Webinars (56 percent) and self-paced online courses (54.5 Not surprisingly, associations use e-learning mainly percent) followed in relatively distant second and to deliver professional development to members, third places. No other formats were nearly as and cost-effectiveness, convenience, and the ability popular, but a significant number of associations— to reach more learners were among the biggest 40.4 percent of survey respondents—do make use of benefits identified by survey respondents. Overall, member-only discussion boards. organizations report that they are more satisfied (78.8 percent) than not (21.6 percent) with their e- With respect to developing e-learning, organizations learning initiatives. The only specific area in which that currently have programs are about evenly split these organizations report being somewhat more on whether they do (43.5 percent) or do not (45.9 dissatisfied (35.5 percent) than satisfied (33.5 percent) make use of professional instructional percent) is in revenue generation from their designers. Among the tools that organizations use offerings. to develop e-learning, Microsoft PowerPoint tops the list—not surprising since it is often the basis for While the survey data indicate that there is a Webinar presentations as well as on-demand somewhat greater tendency for larger associations courses. already to have embraced e-learning, there is clearly significant e-learning activity among smaller In most cases, association e-learning initiatives are organizations. Additionally, it appears that smaller managed by an education department (which, at organizations may lead the growth in new small organizations, may mean a single person who programs in the sector for the coming year. Among wears many hats). Interviews conducted for this 6!EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
  • 7. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 report suggest, however, that the individuals who Web, social networks (25 percent, combining public wind up with responsibility for e-learning programs and private sites) came out on top, followed by often do not come from an education background. blogs (16.5 percent) and wikis (10.1 percent). All Moreover, there was a general sense among three tools—but particularly social networks (32.1 interviewees that opportunities for networking and percent) and blogs (25.7 percent)—show stronger knowledge-sharing among peers in the sector is interest among respondents planning to implement lacking. e-learning. The Technology Perspective The Business Perspective Among the Webinar platforms used by Most of the organizations interviewed for this organizations, WebEx (27 percent) and report along with the vast majority of survey GoToMeeting (23 percent) lead the pack with respondents currently using e-learning (86 percent) Microsoft Live Meeting (14 percent) a distant third. or planning to use e-learning (77.4 percent) charge or plan to charge for some or all of their offerings. Just under half (49.1 percent) of the respondents The average price per content hour for that currently offer e-learning report using a organizations currently offering e-learning is US learning management system (LMS) or are planning $56.79 while the most common level of discount for to within the next 12 months. Among those member course purchases was from 10 to 19 organizations, the majority (71.1 percent) report that percent. they either have integrated or plan to integrate the LMS with their association management system Interviews conducted for this report as well as a (AMS). brief follow-on survey among the original survey participants suggest that most organizations do not Knowledge of and adherence have a formal e-learning strategy in place or a On average, to common e-learning formal approach to pricing their offerings. Only 30.9 organizations guidelines and standards percent of respondents to the follow-on survey using e- appears to be quite low in the reported having a formal, documented e-learning learning reach sector. Adherence to the 18 percent of strategy, and only 20 percent indicated that their Shareable Content Object organizations have a formal, documented process their Reference Model (SCORM), for setting prices. membership base with the most common set of e- their offerings. learning standards, was On average, organizations using e-learning reach considered very important or approximately 18 percent of their membership base absolutely necessary by only with their offerings. Most organizations provide 27 percent of survey some form of credit—for example, continuing respondents currently using education units or a certificate—to their learners. e-learning. With respect to marketing methods, e-mail Social media is attracting marketing and word of mouth lead the pack by a some interest in the significant margin. Among organizations currently association e-learning offering e-learning, 93 percent report e-mail as community but leaves much either very important or absolutely necessary, and room for growth. The 83.8 percent report word of mouth as very dominant social tool in both important or absolutely necessary. The next closest current (32.7 percent) and contender is banner ads on the organizations’ own planned (45 percent) e- Web sites, which 49.8 percent report as very learning initiatives is important or absolutely necessary. Notably, pay-per- discussion forums. Among click advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), the tools that many associate and promotional Webcasts—all mainstays of current most closely with the social Internet marketing practices—do not appear to have 7!EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
  • 8. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 much of a place in current association marketing strategies for e-learning. The State of the Sector E-learning has arrived in the association sector but remains immature. A range of factors—from the current state of the economy to technology advances to the rise of new generations—point to growth and to a clear opportunity for e-learning to transition into a more significant, more strategic part of the mix of services associations provide to members. As this transition occurs, it is likely to be accompanied by the following: • Growth in implementation of learning management systems and integration of these with association management systems • An increase in the amount of on-demand educational content offered by organizations • An increased focus on instructional design along with development of in-house instructional design capabilities or use of contractors • Relatively slow adoption of social media for e- learning purposes until organizations develop strategies and business models for products that integrate social media with more traditional content • An increase in competition that will, in turn, be a significant factor in the adoption of more sophisticated marketing practices New, relevant resources and a more cohesive professional network for e-learning in the sector may be the most valuable byproducts of these changes in association e-learning. 8!EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
  • 9. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Introduction to Association E-learning 2009 About This Report To the best of our knowledge, Association E-learning It is important to note that we were purposely 2009: State of the Sector, represents the first major broad in defining e-learning. In our experience, a effort to assess the state of e-learning in the significant number of organizations limit the term e- association market and provide insight into how the learning to self-paced online courses and do not use role of e-learning in the sector may evolve in the it for Webinars, Webcasts, or other forms of coming years.† educational content delivery online. In an attempt to ensure that survey participants took into account Our hope is that the information here will be useful all forms of online education, the following in providing points of reference and perspective to definition was presented prior to asking organizations planning for e-learning initiatives or organizations whether they use e-learning to deliver hoping to grow their current initiatives. We view it education: as a starting point for continuing, in-depth research about e-learning in the sector that we plan to E-learning, also known as computer-based conduct over the coming years. training or online distance education, refers to computer-enabled learning carried out by At the core of the report is a survey of associations individuals or groups outside of a physical conducted from November 20, 2008, to December classroom, either over the Internet or an internal 19, 2008. We received 488 responses to this survey. network. There are many methods of e-learning Out of these responses, 61.1 percent were from such as Webcasts, self-paced tutorials, podcasts, individuals who indicated that their organization is facilitated discussions, etc., but for the purpose of currently using e-learning. An additional 26.2 this survey, any activity in which a user receives percent indicated they plan to start using e-learning instruction via a computer counts as e-learning. within the coming 6 to 12 months, while 12.7 percent indicated they have no plans to start using To add to the data collected through the survey, we e-learning in the coming 12 months. also conducted phone or e-mail interviews with 20 associations and 12 providers of e-learning technologies and services to the sector. These interviews were conducted with the promise of anonymity so that interviewees could feel comfortable speaking as openly as possible. Only in 12.7% 12.7% Does your organization currently using e-learning to deliver education? Over 60 percent of organizations surveyed currently use e-learning. 13.5% 61.1% Currently deliver e-learning Planning to deliver e-learning in next 6 months Planning to deliver e-learning in next 12 months No plans for e-learning for at least next 12 months † We conducted surveys focusing on e-learning in the broader nonprofit sector, including associations, from 2004 through 2006. The current report represents a continuation of those earlier efforts in many ways, but is also much more comprehensive. The 2004 through 2006 survey results are available, free of charge, at www.jeffthomascobb.com/writing. 9!INTRODUCTION
  • 10. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 few limited instances, and with the permission of the interviewee, are the sources of quotations or other information revealed in the report. Our Partial data from the frequent use of quotations from the interviews is purposeful—we heard online survey is from many interviewees that they do not have sense of what their peers included throughout are doing or where to go to find out what other organizations are doing. this report. See Our hope is that the extensive use of quotations will help a voice for e- Appendix B for the raw survey results. learning in the sector emerge. In addition to quoting frequently from the interviews, we have also The chapters on the crafted brief case studies to highlight the efforts of some of the operational, business, organizations we interviewed. These were done with the organizations’ and technology permission, and we tried to be as diverse as possible in selecting the perspectives end with organizations. The case studies span a range of industries and feature a summary of trends associations of varying size and geographic focus. Our intention is to and a list of questions continue to mine case studies from the more than 300 pages of interview for organizations to ask themselves. transcripts we have collected as well as from our ongoing conversation with organizations and to share these, as they become available, with purchasers of the report. Finally, the two authors of this report have each worked in e-learning for more than a decade and have worked specifically with associations for the better part of that time. Throughout the report we provide our own analysis of the information collected through the survey and the interviews, and we draw on our own experience to offer perspectives that may not be readily apparent from the data. Our approach to doing this is relatively conservative, based on the limitations naturally imposed by a non-probability survey (see the chapter “Methodology”), but even more importantly, on our sense that we are still in the early stages of e-learning in the association sector—a sector that is, by its nature, quite diverse and fragmented—and that broad conclusions must be put forward cautiously. The report is structured into 10 sections: 1.The executive summary 2.This introduction 3.An overview that discusses demographic data, the purposes of association e-learning, the barriers to and benefits of e-learning, and satisfaction with e-learning 4.A chapter on operations and e-learning that looks at what’s produced, who produces it, using what process, and with what tools 5.A chapter that takes the business perspective, looking at the strategy that drives e-learning initiatives, expenses and income, marketing, and competition 6.A chapter on e-learning technology, including the end user point of view and the organizational standpoint 7.The state of e-learning in the association sector based on our analysis of the survey data and interviews 8.A discussion of the methodology used for collecting the data that is the basis of this report 9.A series of appendices that provide a list of participating organizations, the raw online survey data (parts of which are cited throughout the report), the survey methodology, and information about Tagoras (publisher of this report) and Jeff Cobb and Celisa Steele (authors of this report) Our sincere hope is this report proves useful to associations as they assess their e-learning initiatives or contemplate throwing their hats in the e-learning ring. 10!INTRODUCTION
  • 11. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 The Overview Demographics, Purpose, Benefits, Barriers, and Satisfaction This section provides demographic 0.5% data, discusses the purposes for 5.3% 3.4% which associations undertake e- 5.0% learning, looks at the perceived 14.5% benefits of and barriers to e- learning, and analyzes associations’ 10.3% satisfaction with e-learning initiatives. 11.9% Participant Demographics 11.9% As the demographic data provided at the end of this document indicate, responses to the survey were distributed across a broad range of organizations—from those 37.2% with a very small staff and relatively small membership base to those with more than 250 staff What is your members and budgets greater than organization’s annual budget? Less than $100,000 $100,001-$500,000 $50 million per year. Most organizations $500,001-$1,000,000 $1,000,001-$5,000,000 had budgets between $1 million $5,000,001-$10,000,000 $10,000,001-$25,000,000 The largest clusters of survey and $5 million. $25,000,001-$50,000,000 $50,000,001-$100,000,000 More than $100,000,000 respondents in the overall range were nationally focused organizations (39.7 percent), organizations with annual budgets between $1 million and $5 million (37.2 percent), and 1.8% organizations with staff of between 1 and 5 7.8% individuals (26.7 percent). The most common membership size was between 1,000 and 26.8% 5,000 individuals. 19.8% Which best describes the Out of the group of respondents that geographic focus of your indicated current use of e-learning, the organization (i.e., which best largest cluster was also nationally focused 4.3% indicates the areas (48.8 percent), had budgets between $1 in which you actively solicit million and $5 million (39.4 percent), and membership)? had staff of between 6 and 10 individuals Organizations with a 39.8% national focus were the biggest group. (17.2 percent). The most common membership size was 1,000 or less. Single community or municipality focus Overall, organizations indicating they are Multiple community focus in one state currently using e-learning were more likely Single state or province focus than the group as whole to be nationally or Multi-state or multi-province focus internationally focused (75.7 percent versus National focus International focus 66.6 percent) as opposed to focused on a 11!THE OVERVIEW
  • 12. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 region, state, or locality. begin using e-learning within either 6 or 12 months. The largest They were also more These groups tend to manage smaller associations, groups of survey likely to have annual and thus their movement into e-learning tends to respondents were budgets greater than $5 support the idea we will see significant growth in from nationally million (42.5 percent new initiatives by small organizations. focused versus 33 percent); have organizations The great majority of survey respondents indicated more than 10,000 with annual that their organization has been using e-learning to individual members (50.2 budgets between deliver education for more than a year (83.7 $1 million and $5 percent versus 41.5 percent); and have more percent). A relatively small but still notable number million, 1 to 5 staff than 10 staff (67.6 percent (15.6 percent) of respondents reported using e- people, and 1,000 to 5,000 individual versus 55 percent). learning for more than five years. Most (64.6 members. percent) of the respondents currently offering e- While there is a learning indicated that they do offer some form of somewhat greater credit for e-learning. (See the chapter “The Business tendency for larger Perspective” for discussion of credit and e-learning.) associations already to have embraced e- INTERVIEWS learning, there is clearly The organizations we interviewed in follow-up to significant e-learning the online survey were less diverse from the activity among smaller standpoint of geographic focus. All but one regional organizations. It appears association serving four states were nationally or that small organizations internationally focused. Nonetheless the group was may lead the growth in quite diverse in terms of industries served, size of new programs in the staff, size and type (i.e., individuals versus sector for the coming year. Among respondents who organizations) of membership base, and experience indicated that their organization will begin using e- with e-learning. learning in the coming six months, 75.5 percent are from organizations with annual budgets under $5 The providers we interviewed were also quite million, and 32.7 percent are from organizations diverse, ranging from Webinar service providers, with budgets of less than $500,000. The largest like KRM, CommPartners, and Boston cluster of these respondents (36 percent) also came Conferencing, to high-end custom course producers from organizations with fewer than five staff. like Enspire Learning, to learning management system providers like LearnSomething, Certilearn, Similarly, 82.3 percent of the respondents who and Results Direct. Each of the providers was able indicated their organization will start using e- to offer a unique perspective based on their learning within 12 months come from organizations approach to e-learning and the types of clients with annual budgets of less than $5 million, and served. 43.4 percent of respondents report fewer than five staff members. Finally, 17 out of the 42 association management company representatives who responded to the survey indicated that they will 15.6% 16.3% How long has your organization been using e-learning? The majority of respondents were from organizations that had been using e-learning for one to five years. 32.9% 35.3% Less than 1 year 1 to 2 years 2 to 5 years More than 5 years 12!THE OVERVIEW
  • 13. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Purpose, Benefits, and Barriers learning for advocacy and issue education. Respondents in this group were more likely to be As part of our survey, we asked respondents to from associations with a large membership base— provide input on their organization’s purposes for 40.8 percent were from organizations with more using e-learning as well as some of the benefits and than 10,000 members as opposed to only 24.9 barriers they experienced. percent of the all respondents being from an Not surprisingly, most respondents using or organization with more than 10,000 members. planning to use e-learning indicated professional Cost-effectiveness, convenience, and the ability to development for members and non-members as reach more learners were among the biggest their primary and secondary purposes. A much benefits respondents associated with e-learning— smaller portion use e-learning for staff training, among both our survey participants and our though this may be less a comment on e-learning interviewees. More than 70 percent of survey than on the amount of training available to respondents who are using or planning to use e- association staff in general. learning indicated each of these benefits. (See the We also asked organizations to indicate whether chart on the following page.) they used e-learning for training chapters or Somewhat surprisingly, in our opinion, the ability to volunteers or as a tool for advocacy and issue generate revenue ranked significantly lower. It was education. Given that an organization may or may selected by just over 30 percent of those already not have chapters, make extensive use of using e-learning and by just under 30 percent of volunteers, or engage in advocacy, we found it those planning to use e-learning in the coming 12 interesting that a relatively sizable group of months. It is possible that a significant number of respondents indicated that they use or plan to use e- 92.6% Professional development for members 86.5% 64.2% Professional development for non-members 44.4% 35.5% Training for staff 20.6% 30.7% Advocacy and issue education 26.2% For what purposes does your organization 20.3% use or plan to Training for volunteers use e-learning? 26.2% Check all that apply. Most respondents 19.9% indicated Training for affiliated organizations or chapters professional 27.0% development for members and non-members as their primary and 8.4% secondary Other Current e-learning purposes. 7.9% Planned e-learning 13!THE OVERVIEW
  • 14. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 For your organization, what are the three key benefits associated with e-learning? Please check only the three that your organization considers most important. Cost-effectiveness, convenience, and the ability to reach more learners were among the biggest benefits respondents associated with e-learning. 78.9% 78.2% 78.2% 74.7% 73.0% 72.6% Current e-learning Planned e-learning 31.5% 29.0% 23.4% 21.5% 17.7% 13.5% 12.1% 8.3% 3.5% 3.2% 3.2% 3.1% Other Reduction of risk by diversifying product line Ease of tracking continuing education for learners Ability to generate revenues Ability to reach more learners Opportunity for learners to direct their own learning Convenience for learners Cost-effectivness versus other modes Instructional effectiveness versus other modes respondents equated the combination of a top-three benefit by many respondents. We expect convenience and the ability to reach more learners to see risk reduction become more commonly with more revenue, and thus did not single this out recognized as a strategic benefit of e-learning over as a top-three benefit. Another explanation may be the coming year, particularly given the current that, while most organization do need to break even economic environment. Additionally, as on their e-learning initiatives, e-learning is not organizations become more sophisticated in their envisioned as a significant overall revenue management of e-learning—and learning contributor to the organization. management systems gain more traction in the market—we also expect to see increased recognition It is also noteworthy that neither risk reduction nor of tracking as a significant operational benefit of ease of tracking continuing education were rated as implementing e-learning. 14!THE OVERVIEW
  • 15. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Concern about return on financial investment (41.6 We intended for organizations not currently using e- percent) as well as about the technology skills of learning to answer this question about perceived end users (45.5 percent) were among the major barriers, but, unfortunately, responses were not barriers to pursuing e-learning among respondents collected owing to a technical glitch. It seems with programs already in place. Notably, there reasonable to assume that these organizations seems to be significantly less concern about would perceive the same types of barriers, though it technology skills among those who plan to offer e- is also likely that more respondents from this group learning (35.3 percent), perhaps reflecting an overall would indicate no perceived need for e-learning. sense that end users are becoming more comfortable with both the Web and with e-learning. Concern We explore the question of staff resources more in about financial return is only slightly lower (39.5 the chapter “The Operational Perspective” and percent), but clearly this group is concerned about discuss the issue of end user technology skills in the amount of staff resources that will be required to “The Technology Perspective.” develop e-learning (57.1 percent). 57.1% Current e-learning 46.2% 45.5% Planned e-learning 41.6% 40.3% 39.5% 38.7% 35.3% 33.6% 33.3% 33.0% 26.2% 24.4% 21.5% 20.4% 17.6% 8.2% 7.6% 7.5% 6.5% 6.5% 5.7% 5.0% 4.2% 4.2% 3.4% Resistance from current trainers or facilitators No perceived need for e-learning Staff time required to support e-learning Fear that stakeholders won’t use e-learning Other Staff time required to develop e-learning Lack of management buy-in Lack of expertise in e-learning Concern about effectiveness of e-learning Concern about end users’ technical skills Concern that costs would exceed non-financial return Concern that costs would exceed financial return Lack of funding necessary to implement e-learning What are the three biggest barriers your organization has encountered or expects to encounter while developing e-learning initiatives? Please check only the three that your organization considers most important. Concern about return on financial investment and the technology skills of end users were among the major barriers to pursuing e-learning among respondents with programs already in place. 15!THE OVERVIEW
  • 16. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Satisfaction with E-learning 5.6% 21.6% 16.0% Overall, how satisfied are you with your current e-learning initiatives? Most associations reported they are either somewhat satisfied or very satisfied. We asked respondents from organizations who have implemented e-learning to indicate their level of satisfaction. On the whole, experiences with e-learning seem to be much more positive than negative. Most associations report that they are either somewhat satisfied (56.8 percent) or very satisfied with their e-learning 56.8% initiatives. Only a small portion (5.6 percent) reported being very dissatisfied. Very satisfied overall Somewhat satisfied overall Somewhat dissatisfied overall Through further analysis of the data, we were able to identify ways Very dissatisfied overal in which organizations that are very satisfied with their e-learning initiatives most differ from the group that is very dissatisfied. Very satisfied organizations had the largest percentage of respondents who indicated that their association had been using e-learning for more than five years. These organizations were significantly more likely than their dissatisfied counterparts to offer some form of credit for e-learning, to charge for all of their e-learning offerings, and to indicate ease of tracking as a benefit of e-learning. All respondents 15.6% Very satisfied Have used e-learning for more than 5 years 25.9% Very dissatisfied 14.3% 8.3% Indicate ease of tracking as benefit 16.7% 0% 16.1% E-learning does not have to be self-sustaining 18.5% 7.1% How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with 54.5% your current e- Use self-paced courses 66.7% learning 35.7% initiatives in terms of these 42.3% specific items? Very satisfied Charge for all e-learning 53.7% organizations 35.7% were more likely than their dissatisfied 35.4% counterparts to No credit offered for e-learning 35.3% offer some form 57.1% of credit for e- learning, to charge for all of 32.7% their e-learning Use discussion forums 42.3% offerings, and to indicate ease of 7.7% tracking as a benefit of e- 34.4% learning. Use LMS 46.3% 14.3% 16!THE OVERVIEW
  • 17. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Very satisfied organizations were also much more percent of very dissatisfied respondents indicated it. likely than very dissatisfied organizations to use a The very dissatisfied group was most concerned learning management system (LMS)—the very that costs for e-learning would exceed financial dissatisfied group had the lowest percentage of return. LMS users out of any of the satisfaction groupings. The very satisfied organizations are much more In general, the very satisfied organizations appear likely to make use of discussion boards in their e- to be more mature in their e-learning. They have learning, and their use of self-paced courses is been at it longer (more than five years in many significantly higher than that of very dissatisfied instances), they have implemented more organizations as well as the total pool of sophisticated technology (an LMS), and embraced a respondents. Use of self-paced courses by very more diverse range of offerings (self-paced courses satisfied organizations is on par with their use of and discussion boards along with Webinars). Webinars (66.7 percent for each). Very dissatisfied Finally, they tend to charge for their e-learning and organizations, on the other hand, report the lowest offer credit much more than their very dissatisfied percentage of self-paced course usage (35.7 percent) counterparts. and the highest percentage of real-time Webinar SATISFACTION IN SPECIFIC AREAS usage (78.6 percent). We also asked survey respondents to indicate their Very satisfied organizations show a high amount of levels of satisfactions with respect to specific to concern about end user technology skills. While 45.5 specific aspects of their e-learning initiatives. percent of the total respondent pool indicated this as one of their top three barriers encountered while The only specific area in which overall implementing e-learning, 52.8 percent of very dissatisfaction (35.5 percent) seems to outweigh satisfied respondents indicated it, and only 35.7 overall satisfaction (33.5 percent) is revenue How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with your current e-learning initiatives in terms of these specific items? Very Somewhat Neutral Somewhat Very Not Satisfied Satisfied Dissatisfied Dissatisfied Applicable Usage (e.g., number of course 13.2% 33.3% 10.7% 27.2% 13.6% 2.5% enrollments) Revenue (e.g., from course sales) 7.9% 25.6% 16.9% 24.8% 10.7% 14.5% The financial cost of creating the 12.9% 28.8% 27.9% 17.5% 8.8% 4.6% initiatives The financial cost of supporting and 14.6% 27.1% 27.1% 18.8% 8.3% 4.6% maintaining the initiatives The staff time required to develop the 7.4% 33.9% 24.4% 24% 7.4% 3.3% initiatives The staff time required to maintain the 9.2% 32.9% 29.2% 19.6% 6.3% 3.3% initiatives Feedback from participants in the 23.8% 38.1% 17.6% 14.6% 3.3% 2.9% initiatives 17!THE OVERVIEW
  • 18. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 generation. Very satisfied organizations indicate higher than average levels of satisfaction with revenue—64.1 percent report being either somewhat or very satisfied in comparison to 33.5 percent for the total pool of respondents. None of the very dissatisfied respondents reported being either somewhat or very satisfied with revenue, but 71.4 percent reported being either somewhat or very dissatisfied. This group also indicated high levels of dissatisfaction with the level of staff time and the financial costs associated with maintaining e- learning initiatives. It is also worth noting that organizations that report being very satisfied with their e-learning initiatives indicate usage (49.1 percent) and feedback from participants (51.9 percent) as their two highest areas of satisfaction. These organizations are reaching their users and hearing positive things from them about e-learning. Having looked at the demographics of the survey respondents and the purposes and benefits of, barriers to, and satisfaction with e-learning, we’ll now delve into deeper discussion of the operational, business, and technology aspects of association e- learning. 18!THE OVERVIEW
  • 19. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 The Operational Perspective Products, Personnel, Process, and Tools Operations deals with the nuts and bolts of As the chart below illustrates, real-time Webinars developing an e-learning program: what’s came out on top, with recorded Webinars and self- produced, who produces it, using what process, and paced courses following next for both groups of with what tools. In this section, we draw on the respondents. online survey and our interviews to see how associations are developing e-learning today. Organizations indicating they were very satisfied with their current e-learning usage (e.g., enrollments) pursue self-paced offerings and real- Products: What’s Offered time Webinars equally (68.8 percent)—a significant E-LEARNING PRODUCTS AND SERVICES increase in usage for the self-paced category. Among this group, facilitated online courses (which The online survey asked organizations currently excludes Webinars) dropped to 6.3 percent (from involved in e-learning and organizations planning 19.1 percent), and use of member-only discussion to engage in e-learning in the next 12 months which boards declined to 28.1 percent (from 40.4 percent). types of e-learning products and services they offer or plan to offer. Which of the following e-learning products and services does your association currently provide or will your organization add in the next 12 months? Check all that apply. Real-time Webinars came out on top. Real-time Webinars 67.1% 55.7% Recorded Webinars 56.0% 47.0% Self-paced courses 54.5% 47.8% Member-only discussion boards 40.4% 40.0% Audio or video podcasts 35.4% 34.8% CD-ROMs and DVDs 34.3% 10.4% “Off-the-shelf” courses 20.6% 16.5% Facilitated online courses 19.1% 18.3% Electronic study guides 15.5% 13.9% Current e-learning 15.5% Planned e-learning Blended learning 14.8% Offline with online assessments 14.8% 7.0% Educational simulations or games 3.6% 4.3% Other2.9% 4.3% 19!THE OPERATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
  • 20. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 For organizations indicating they were very All of these Webinars that have been done to date satisfied with their current e-learning revenue, are volunteer members who speak for us for free facilitated online courses went down to 10.5 percent and have a presentation that they’ve either (from 19.1 percent), and recorded Webinars dipped developed for some other audience or something to 42.1 percent (from 56 percent). In line with the like that, so we’re not putting an awful lot of overall data, this very-satisfied-with-revenue group overhead on them either. It was a quick way to reported real-time Webinars as the most popular ramp up and start the service.... It’s the crawl- offering (63.2 percent). before-you-walk thing. Eventually we intend to be doing everything, but right now we are an Compared to the very satisfied, organizations association...so there is not a hell of a lot of reporting to be very dissatisfied overall with their e- budget, and this [set of Webinars] is something learning are: that is tangible that we can start with. But, for sure, everything else is on the big master plan. • Less likely to offer self-paced courses (35.7 This is a five-year strategy, and the Webinars are percent versus 66.7 percent) just the beginning of it. • Less likely to offer electronic study guides and blended learning (0 percent versus 18.5 percent Another advantage is that it’s possible to do a lot for both) with a little in the Webinar world. At one of the • Less likely to use third-party, “off the shelf” organizations where we conducted interviews, a online courses (7.1 percent versus 18.5 percent) single staffer did 22 Webinars in a three-month • More likely to offer recorded Webinars (71.4 period! percent versus 50 percent) Just because Webinars are seen as an entry point to One interviewee attested to the popularity of live e-learning doesn’t mean all organizations start Webinars over recorded ones: “We do see that our there: “We started online [with 20-25 asynchronous events are so much more successful as live events courses] before we did Webinars,” one interviewee rather than after-the-fact, and I’ve been surprised by commented, “which is really weird.” For others, that. Our numbers for the live event are great; our there is a perceived first-mover advantage to taking numbers for the recordings are pathetic.” a different tack: THE APPEAL OF WEBINARS [O]ne of the first things they asked me to do was Most organizations surveyed offer real-time to actually create a strategy for online learning, Webinars. Why? Webinars are seen as a safe starting which is an indulgence for many people, but it place—not too expensive or too time-consuming: was a necessary step for us, and I’m really glad we took it. And I was quite surprised because actually the first recommendation I had was to head into Webinars, and they opted for the other option Try a panel format for your Webinars, your instead [developing an asynchronous, stand- online chats, or even your teleconferences. alone, non-instructor-led course], which I thought was a very high-level risk, and they knew it and “[We] pride ourselves on balanced and sound science, so we’ve been using the Webcasts to try and really embody were willing to take it anyway.... They kind of that principle. We’ve had sometimes opposing views where wanted to be the first in their association circle, if the science is evolving, so you’ll have those two people, and it has been heated at times. We’ll usually have a more you will, to head into that territory, and they experienced moderator from the organizational perspective, were. so a member who knows that subject matter and who can moderate a balanced conversation and then a third person will vary, but sometimes it’s a consumer researcher or a One interviewee cautioned against succumbing to marketer, someone to bring in an additional outside pressure to go big initially: perspective that relates to the topic at hand....” I think associations feel like to do e-learning that they have to make a big investment, that you have to have a full catalog right off the bat, and we’ve 20!THE OPERATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
  • 21. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 found a lot of success with just sort of putting our mentoring program: toe in the water and working with a company to “We post a new “The one thing that create one course to see how that one course will video, about five we’re doing that I do. That allowed us to get a feel for what e- minutes tops, every think is a little bit learning would be like for our organization and two to three unique is that we are doing free resources, for our membership without having to outlay a lot weeks.” The videos little short vignettes of money.... I think everybody thinks that their e- are primarily one- on hot topical areas learning program has to be [like those of the top on-one interviews or things more about associations], and I think e-learning can be with senior to public awareness or customized for your audience based off your midlevel industry public safety, or, in budget and resources. I think if more associations professionals. some cases, aditorials knew that, then they would be willing to take a where we get chance.... Another sponsors. And we’ve organization has had some success in A vendor agreed that associations often feel been using video people finding us overwhelmed and get stymied: for consumer through those—going education—and has to the Web site We’ve had several clients that have decided to more planned for because they want to work with us, we’ve gotten started, and we’ve the future. look at the free worked closely with them to help guide them resources, and they through the process and who have just basically I could spend 15 to get there and see our stopped dead in their tracks because they are just 30 minutes with a courses listed there so overwhelmed with the whole prospect of doing consumer who and decide to try one it. I think they are scared because they don’t calls up and has a out.” understand it. In a lot of cases the education folks question.... I love are just so stretched that they feel that they don’t that they want to have time to devote to getting things going.... I get informed before think they kind of fear the unknown, the they decide to do this, so they know what they are overwhelming feeling of what it’s going to take to buying, and, if they decide not to buy it, that’s implement something new. okay, at least they’ll know. I’m all for educated consumers—I’m a consumer myself...so I can Given budget and time constraints and the totally relate to them. We’ve put together nebulous fear of the unknown, Webinars seem brochures, there’s stuff on our Web site now, we familiar and small enough to feel like a safe start. did a video that ran on public service, but I want to try and upgrade that. We are doing a series of VIGNETTES AND VIDEOS videos this year that are going to be three to five Two offerings not specifically included in the list of minutes, geared toward consumers.... online products for our online survey came to our attention during the interviews: videos and Another organization whose members may not vignettes. (We note, though, that Web video was have e-mail addresses but do have cell phones included in a question about social media and that (“...and they’re not carrying six-year-old Nokias— vignettes may be considered a particular type of they have razzle-dazzle cell phones”) is self-paced tutorial.) contemplating branching into mobile learning, delivering video to phones. One organization we interviewed began posting short educational videos to its Web site in 2004. Along with videos, vignettes popped up in our These were primarily educational and aimed at the interviews as a product offering we hadn’t asked membership—with the occasional promotional about specifically. In entertainment, vignettes are video added to the mix. More recently, the brief scenes—think of a Burt and Ernie sketch on organization has rethought its videos as a product Sesame Street. E-learning borrows the term for short line, as an online professional development and educational pieces. 21!THE OPERATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
  • 22. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 One association we spoke with is using free input. These might be the same people tapped vignettes as a vehicle for driving public awareness to present at the organization’s in-person and getting visitors to their site. conferences or courses. • The SMEs provide content. Depending on the The American Society of Association Executives has e-learning format and the association’s developed a product line of for-fee vignettes (the resources and culture, review of the provided introductory price is $79.95 per). These 90-minute content runs the gamut from rigorous to self-study tutorials address association management nonexistent. The content may be thoroughly topics. reworked and edited for on-screen, instructor- less presentation. Or a SME’s PowerPoint for a Of note is how well both formats—videos and Webinar might only be reviewed cursorily— vignettes—lend themselves to consumer education, just as a presentation at an annual conference is or external education, as well as the more not put under the microscope by staff, the SME traditional, membership-focused training. may be relied on to present the content as she PROCESS EXAMPLES sees fit. We included a question about the product development process in our brief follow-up survey on e-learning strategy. The vast majority of “You take a PowerPoint that you already respondents indicated that their use, you make a few tweaks to it...and you organization does not have a formal publish it as an e-learning program.” product development process for e- learning. “Our practice team will define the Without a formal process, how are objectives and the learning outcomes. So organizations developing e-learning? they will work with the authors, they will From the interviews a typical if submit their lesson plan, we review it, they informal e-learning process emerged. submit lesson one, we review it.... Our instructional designer also reviews it...for • A list of e-learning topics is generated through the opportunities to enhance the material. committee or board input, staff knowledge—or For example, additional links, resources, making it audio, making it puzzles, adding intuition—about the topics most relevant to questions, quizzes, more interactive members, or, in limited cases, surveys of the things....” membership base. • Subject matter experts (SMEs) for the topics are identified based on board, committee, or staff 3.6% 30.9% A product development process typically includes steps for determining which products or services to produce as well as a detailed process by which products are created and taken to market. Does your organization have a formal, documented product development process for e-learning? 65.5% A little over 30 percent of organizations reported having a formal process. Formal product development process No formal process Not sure 22!THE OPERATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
  • 23. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 • For e-learning where instructors or presenters initiatives?” Director of education—or what we interact with learners, staff (or their proxy consider the equivalent (e.g., director of vendors or contractors) train them on how to professional development)—was the most common, use the relevant software (e.g., a Web with 62 responses. conferencing system or a learning management system). C-level job titles or the equivalent (vice president, • As is common with place-based training, e- chief learning officer, etc.) were reported 41 times, learners are often asked to evaluate their and 36 respondents indicated the head of the learning experience after completing it—or, in organization (executive director, CEO, etc.) has the case of longer offerings, evaluations may be responsibility for the e-learning initiatives. requested periodically throughout and at the Collectively these two groups of responses show end of the training. In an ideal world, this that a big chunk put e-learning responsibility right feedback is mined for ways to improve future at the top of the organization. Of those reporting the offerings. CEO or executive director is responsible, the vast majority (but not all) have annual budgets of less Personnel and Tools: Who Gets It than $5 million and staffs smaller than 30. As would Done and How be expected, the larger, more flush associations, tend to delegate responsibility for e-learning, but many JOB TITLES larger associations still keep the responsibility very For organizations currently engaged in e-learning, high up. 204 responded to the online survey question, “What is the title of the person who holds top-level Interestingly, only two responses included the term management responsibility for your e-learning e-learning in the responsible person’s title, and only 11.8% 17.6% 7.4% 6.9% 20.1% 5.9% What is the title of the person who holds top- level management 30.4% responsibility for your e-learning initiatives? With 30.4% of the responses, director of education was the most common title. Executive director C-level Director of education Director of membership Other director (e.g., of IT or meetings) Manager or coordinator of education Other 23!THE OPERATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
  • 24. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 two included the broader (and older) term can work in education—if you can give distance education. a presentation, you’re an educator. From the interviews, we learned that, ADEQUACY OF RESOURCES despite the prevalence of the director of From the interviews we learned, not education job title, many of those in charge surprisingly, that most organizations— of e-learning at their organizations do not whether large or small—felt they had more have a formal background in education. to do than they had time or resources: We talked with many people who came to e-learning from communications, • “I did capacity planning...and I marketing, public relations, and business. discovered I was one staff person One interviewee noted this phenomena: short. I did make a request, but, of course, I was turned down. But My sense is that the vast majority of somehow the work gets done.... I staff working in education departments don’t believe in throwing more things have come from somewhere else. It may at people, you just dilute the quality or have been in the membership you exhaust people—it gets department or even from outside the frustrating.” sector, which is fine—there is nothing • “We don’t have enough staff wrong with that—but, if you go into an resources. All our courses should be accounting department in an updated, but that’s a full-time job for association, you have a CPA.... I think someone. Plus we’re launching new our area is more fuzzy.... The education courses, so staff time is a major staff are doing a great job, doing the best problem. Resources internally become they can, but they’re not aware of very difficult to get, like the marketing resources and tools that are available to thing, the IT thing—they all have them. It’s almost like they are managing other jobs, and e-learning is just one a product that could be any product.... I more added to their pile.” don’t think they’re as perceived as • “I think everybody would always like specialty experts as some of the other resources. I work for a really small professions are. It’s almost like anyone organization [fewer than five staff], so “It’s almost like anyone can work in education—if you can give a presentation, you’re an educator.” 24!THE OPERATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
  • 25. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 you have to really carry your load twice. So, handholding behind the scenes, which I’ve heard yes, it does take a lot of time, and it takes a lot from a lot of other people that that is real common, of finessing and political skills and talking to and that’s what you need to do to make this stuff people forever. Yesterday I had an hour and a succeed”—to technical troubleshooting. half meeting with two presenters [for an upcoming Webinar]. I think that could have Our end users aren’t very technologically been more efficient; it could have been 10 advanced. It doesn’t seem to be age-based. We had minutes, but that happens. It does help to have thousands of students go through one of those a vendor, but we do do a lot of it. We do all the programs, and I got the sense that we needed some promotion, e-mail promotions, we promote on customer support, and I’m happy that it went to our Web site, we promote it in our an outside vendor this summer who supports us newsletter....” with call centers. We had roughly 40 percent of the people putting in calls, several thousand were Even with the bulk of the must-do work getting calling. And they may have been calling about done, the lack of resources limits organizations’ minor things, but the range was unbelievable. ability to update their offerings or dabble in new realms like social media and cuts into the time for Before outsourcing to the call center, this essential strategic thinking. organization of eight full-time staff swelled its ranks, for a time, to include eight part-timers just to • “I’m a bit overloaded with everything that deal with customer service on its e-learning everyone wants to be done and all the research products. that has to be done. So if we started to run a full-time blog or anything like that, it’s On the flip side, at least one interviewee was able to definitely going to require, I think, another point out a reduction in staff time as a result of person’s workload.” moving to online system for claiming continuing • “It’s definitely time-consuming by the time you education as part of her organization’s e-learning figure out what you are going to do, and you initiative: “In terms of staff hours spent processing find your speakers, and you put together your this stuff [credit claims], we’ve gone from about 45 PowerPoint, and you promote it. It does take a to 50 hours a week of people processing paper to lot of manpower.... We definitely don’t have the probably about 7 hours max, maybe 5.” resources to do some kind of strategic planning WHERE TO TURN FOR HELP and thinking about our whole education offering.” Since the staff responsible for association e-learning are likely to not come from an e-learning or even Given the near universal sense that there aren’t education background and since they are strapped enough resources, what are some of the big time for resources, we asked our interviewees where they sinks? For some, it is the sheer newness of e- turn for information and guidance on e-learning. A learning complicated by simultaneous projects: few sources cropped up regularly: It was certainly more than I had expected, but I • American Society of Association Executives also take into consideration that we implemented (ASAE): http://www.asaecenter.org an LMS at the same time, so there were many • American Society of Training & Development different projects going on... [F]or me it was the (ASTD): http://www.astd.org first time building a full online course—and not • eLearning Guild: http:// even having to necessarily focus on the content so www.elearningguild.com much, given that it was already created—it was • Internet in general (e.g., Google searches on certainly a learning process. relevant keywords) For others, customer service and support have Coupled with that handful of concrete sources for demanded a great deal of attention. This can range help, though, was a recurring sense that from handholding—“There is a lot more organizations would like to be connecting with 25!THE OPERATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
  • 26. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 other associations doing similar things: “Really for myself, I need to do a better job of getting in touch “I don’t find that there are a lot of other with other folks at my level at other associations.” people like me in the association world, But that desire is tempered by a sense that there doing the kind of e-learning that I’m doing. either aren’t great e-learning success stories in the They are either doing really grand stuff that association world—“I have not encountered I’m never going to do, or they’re not doing anything at all, and they think it’s anybody that is soaring in distance education”—or completely impossible, so they are not that the lessons that other associations have interested in it.” learned may not be relevant—“I don’t find that there are a lot of other people like me in the association world, doing the kind of e-learning that I’m doing. They are either doing really grand stuff that I’m never going to do, or they’re not doing anything at all, and they think it’s completely impossible, so they are not interested in it.” Another interviewee lamented: We would love to be able to have a network of associations that are not afraid to talk to each other, that would share information, and we could all learn from each other. But some of us are competitors, and that’s understandable. The for- profit world is a totally different world, and there are for-profit entities out there selling e-learning. That’s not us; we have our own set of issues and things that we have to deal with. And there’s no place really to go and have that discussion. Interviewees mentioned other sources for advice on e-learning but with much less frequency than those noted above. These included: • Coworkers • Consultants • Vendors • Members • Board members and committees In this list of sources, the value of the input varied greatly. For example, while some associations find their committees and boards wonderful sources, one interviewee said, “Our leadership, our board, it’s helpful only in a small way to be honest, so we don’t really look to our board for guidance [on e- learning].” Another said, “We have a corporate board, and they’re supposed to come up with ideas of things that we could turn into e-learning or Webcasts. Nine times out of ten, they’re way off base, unfortunately.” 26!THE OPERATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
  • 27. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Building Internal Capacity—and Interest Community Associations Institute Dave Jennings at the Community Associations Institute (CAI) is consciously thinking of how to engage the staff—and not just the education staff—in the organization’s e- learning. “Let’s say, if we have 55 staff here, we’d be getting a team of 7 or 8 staff people who are interested in this, who want to be involved,” Jennings explained. “They may work in any department in the building, whether it’s customer service or accounting, but they might think that this is interesting and fun, they want to learn about it, they want to help.” The idea is to harness the staff’s enthusiasm and interest to build up internal knowledge and experience. An interested staff member can develop her own idea for a Webinar—or be assigned one—and then she runs with it: contacting the speaker, dealing with contracts, getting the event produced. For Jennings, the advantage is clear: “If we say a year from now, or even 6 months from now, that we are going to do podcasts, the gap between where the staff thinks they are and what they think it will take to produce a podcast right now might be a 100-point gap, but after 6 to 12 months of doing Webinars, that gap could shrink to 20 points. So we get a staff that thinks they could do that—if they want to do it, then they can do it.” Although CAI is happy to have good vendor relationships that work well now, Jennings likes having the option in the future to do more internally, save time, and be more efficient. Involving all interested staff in the production of CAI Webinars is part of his plan for getting there. “[A]fter we’ve done 20 or 30 of these, a major benefit to us will be having a staff that is very comfortable producing Webinars, and I think that will help us create other products more easily.” Dave Jennings, vice president, education 27!CASE STUDY
  • 28. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 DEPARTMENTS RESPONSIBLE FOR E-LEARNING Not surprisingly, 75.5 percent of associations currently engaged in e-learning house that 9.6% function in their education or professional development department. Member services and 1.1% 1.9% “other” were the only other substantial 1.9% groupings, with 10 percent and 9.6 percent respectively. 10.0% Analysis of the text responses provided by associations currently doing e-learning and responding Which department or division of your organization holds primary responsibility for e-learning? “other” to this Education or professional development, not surprisingly, came in first. question reveals that 8 out of 25 75.5% said e-learning is the shared responsibility of multiple departments or divisions, and two reported that their organizations are too small to have departments or divisions. Education or professional development Member services For those planning to do e-learning in the next Marketing 12 months and responding “other,” 6 out of 14 Technology Don’t know are too small to have departments or divisions, Other which perhaps suggests an uptick in the adoption of e-learning among smaller organizations—of those saying they are too small to have departments and divisions, all reported annual budgets of less than $5 million. Anecdotally, we learned that even in organizations with an education department, e-learning may be housed elsewhere: “We have a side of the house where I actually did reside at one point; they do all the education— they do face-to-face conferences, courses, everything.” But the organization determined that the target market for e-learning matched the buyers of one of its certifications and moved e-learning to that division instead. “So I went to a place where the market made more sense than my residing where education resided,” the interviewee explained. “And there’s sort of been this imaginary dividing line between the two.” Another interviewee said, “There’s a whole other educational area—you could think of it as the conference area. They do conferences and high-level Webinars. We do self-study learning, and we do Webinars that are less technically oriented.” PREVALENCE OF OUTSOURCING Filtering the data on staff size, budget size, age of e-learning program, and type of e-learning product (e.g., games and simulations) does not yield percentages significantly different from the numbers reported above—the vast majority of organizations, in all circumstances, use a mix of in-house staff and outside vendors. 28!THE OPERATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
  • 29. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 That said, organizations that charge for none of company again and pay the same amount again. their e-learning offerings are more likely to develop He told me, whatever I recommend, whatever I am those offerings completely in-house (29.4 percent comfortable with, and I said that I was always up versus 17.6 percent of those organizations who for a professional development challenge myself, charge for all their e-learning offerings), and let’s license it, I’ll learn to do it, and I’ll do the organizations with staffs larger than 30 are more moderation, which is what we’ve done. And I likely to develop entirely in house (19.4 percent think that’s a key in being able to generate revenue versus 7.5 percent doing it all out of house). versus struggling to generate revenue from Webinars.... However I think that there are some The interviews support the commonsense thinking organizations...who couldn’t believe that we do it that the main attraction of using outside vendors is ourselves, but clearly they were so nervous about that they make the work easier for the association, it that for them hiring an organization to do it for and the main downside is that they can be pricey: them was probably their best investment. So for “We use a third party [for our Webinars]. They some people and some organizations that really is make it an easy process for us, but it’s an expense a good fit; for us, it’s been much better to license that we are not really recouping, so we are the system, leverage it across the whole year, and definitely looking at other options.” For some the first Webinar paid for it and the rest of the organizations, the staff are excited by the Webinars help us to hit various revenue marks opportunity to learn new things and ready to take that we want to hit. on more while saving the organization money—but that decision is not for everyone. For organizations that do decide to use outside vendors, many asserted that the choice should take I said to the executive director, we’ve got two key into account the technology and the association’s choices here—we can license the system [Web reality and relationship with the provider. conferencing software for Webinars] for a year, and we can get unlimited use for it, so we can use When I examined all the different vendors who it for meetings, we can use it for Web conferences, provide Webinars and teleconferencing, I looked at we can do all kinds of stuff with it, or we can hire the big players and the small players and those in a company to do it once at the same price, and the middle, and we selected Provider X because when we do the second one, we’ll have to hire that they were well priced, and they didn’t have too many bells and whistles. Our members are on the unsophisticated side, technology-wise, so too many bells and whistles would have thrown them as well as our staff. I didn’t feel 100 percent 12.8% 18.3% comfortable, and the Provider X system was easy for me to understand how to operate, and we have had very few problems with our attendees not being able to figure it out. Are your e-learning offerings developed entirely in-house, using a mixture of in-house staff and outside vendors, or completely using outside vendors? The vast majority of associations use a combination of internal and external resources. 68.9% Entirely in-house Mix of in-house and consultants or vendors Completely outside vendors 29!THE OPERATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
  • 30. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 THE COST OF EXPERTISE We asked the organizations we interviewed if they typically pay the subject matter experts (SMEs) who develop the content for their e-learning offerings. Most don’t, some do, and some use a mixed model that involves paying some SMEs and not others. For many organizations who don’t pay, it boils down to precedent—they don’t pay presenters for the annual meeting—or the bottom line—they can’t afford to pay. “Free” expertise is a huge boon and not only for e-learning: “[W]e have about 80 instructors, and we don’t pay them a dime to teach two-day classes; we just pay for their trip. They get no honorarium and hardly any recognition. We try but right now the organization doesn’t have a really good structure for recognizing and thanking them like you would think it would, but that saves the organization $200,000 or $300,000 a year, that they’re not paying any honorariums. That’s amazing to me.” But associations in this free-SME camp realize the drawbacks of a volunteer-only approach: “[This use of members as SMEs] limits us a bit because there are some things that our profession wants to learn about that the professionals within the profession don’t have the subject matter expertise in, so we have not gone down that road yet of finding those outside people and paying them for their subject matter expertise, and that limits the kind of courses that we make available.” Organizations who do pay SMEs tend to do so because a little payment can go a long way toward improving the experts’ likelihood of hitting deadlines and incorporating feedback or because they’re asking the SMEs for something original rather than recycled content: “I find we have to pay [our SMEs]. If I want to get a finished product out, then the best way to do it is with payment. I think that the industry has changed over the years with that. I see a “[W]e have about 80 instructors, definite shift towards that. I will get a volunteer to review materials and we don’t pay them a dime if that review is not too extensive or not too deep and they only have to teach two-day classes; we to read a sentence here or there. But if I’m going to do development just pay for their trip.... [T]hat from scratch then we have to pay.” saves the organization $200,000 or $300,000 a year.... That’s Even when financial compensation is given to SMEs, it may be more amazing to me.” of a token gesture than a true-market-value estimation of their time and expertise. The figures we heard for a 60- to 90-minute Webinar ranged from $200 to $300. One organization shared that it pays SMEs $2,500 for a one- to two-hour self-paced course and $5,000 for a three- to four-hour course—”so they have some skin in the game too.” It should be noted that this association does have its SMEs sign over intellectual property rights to the self-paced course as part of the agreement. In summary, you may not have to pay for your subject matter expertise if service and volunteerism are well established in your organization. On the other hand, you may need to pay to get responsiveness and original, more thoughtful content. 30!THE OPERATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
  • 31. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 AUTHORING TOOLS Microsoft PowerPoint is king and queen of e-learning development tools, the only one with greater than 50 percent usage in our online survey of associations currently engaged in e-learning. And PowerPoint remains on top no matter staff size, budget size, or age of e-learning program. PowerPoint 60.4% LMS or LCMS tools 24.8% Adobe Flash 24.3% Adobe Dreamweaver 14.9% Articulate Presenter 13.5% Adobe Captivate 8.1% Camtasia Studio 7.2% Adobe Connect 3.7% Lectora (Trivantis) 1.4% Which of the Outstart Trainer 0.9% following Toolbook (SumTotal) 0.9% authoring ReadyGo 0.5% tools, if any, does your WebEx 26.6% association GoToMeeting 22.5% use for Microsoft Live Meeting 13.5% creating e- learning? Genesys 1.8% Microsoft ReadyTalk 0.9% PowerPoint Elluminate 0.9% was the indisputable Other 17.1% front-runner. 0% 20% 40% 60% If we look just at organizations that have a learning management system (LMS) or learning content management system (LCMS), then the category for tools provided in the LMS or LCMS goes way up to 58.2 percent from 24.8 percent, finally—but just barely—beating PowerPoint out as the most popular tool (PowerPoint comes in at 57 percent for this group). Despite the increase, it is interesting that use of LMS and LCMS tools is not even higher among these organizations. This could be because the LMS does not offer built-in course development tools or because the organization began its e-learning without an LMS and stuck with the same course development tools even after an LMS was added. It could also be that the LMS or LCMS tools are not as user- or process-friendly as other options: “The authoring part [of our LMS] is not that clear, so we have the authors prepare the content in Word. Then we convert it into the authoring system. I’m in the process of looking at authoring tools, to understand if there could a better route.” INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGNERS For those currently doing e-learning, organizations are equally split between using professional instructional 10.6% designers (IDs) and not. But, if you factor in the type of e-learning produced, the split shifts. For organizations offering blended 43.5% learning, 73 percent use professional instructional designers, and 62.8 Does your organization percent of associations offering self- 45.9% make use of professional instructional designers paced and 59.2 percent offering (whether on staff or by contract) when developing facilitated e-learning use professional its e-learning offerings? IDs. The responses were almost evenly split. Use professional IDs Don’t use professional IDs Not sure 31!THE OPERATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
  • 32. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 As the stakes go up, the use of professional IDs goes up too. For organizations offering continuing education (CE) toward a credential, 50.4 percent use professionals versus 40.5 percent who do not. Compare that to organizations offering CE but not toward a credential—only 33.9 percent use professional IDs, while 53.2 percent do not—and to organizations offering no credit at all—again only 33.9 percent use professionals, while 56.7 percent do not. Part of this increase may be attributable to the use of assessments in e-learning tied to credentials. When tying content to learning domains and writing questions is key, organizations may see more value in the added vetting a professional ID brings. “[A]ssociations are notoriously The longer the organization has been involved in e- shortsighted when it comes to [investing in learning, the more likely it is to use professional professional instructional design]. IDs. For e-learning programs less than a year old, Oftentimes they just don’t want to spend only 35.7 percent use professionals; almost double the money for it, and unfortunately the number (67.5 percent) of programs older than sometimes the programs suffer for that.” five years use professionals The use of professional IDs is also higher among organizations using an LMS—71.3 percent— compared to those without an LMS—23 percent. From out interviews, we learned that the opinion of instructional designers varies widely. Some interviewees were not even familiar with the term, others didn’t think they added value, others thought they added value but weren’t something • “[Y]ou need a good instructional designer for their organization could afford or support, and still online learning,” said one association others believe them indispensable. interviewee, who happens to be an instructional designer. “I do recommend, • “We tried that [using professional instructional especially for individuals who may be in a designers], and we didn’t get a lot from the one position like mine or have this responsibility in that we picked. I wasn’t impressed at all.” This their association and they don’t have an association interviewee continued, “I just felt instructional design background or don’t have like I could have figured it out myself. It was an instructional design background in online sort of like, let’s put some video out, and then learning, which is different, then they definitely let’s have a couple of questions, and then let’s need to make sure that they hire someone to put some more video, and then we’ll retest handle that or they are gong to end up with an them. And I thought, I already know this. So I asynchronous course that’s just not going to be don’t know if that’s an expertise as much as very good.” common sense. So since then, we haven’t [used • One vendor we interviewed said, “We used to professional instructional designers]. I have someone on staff devoted just to that wouldn’t say that I would never do that, but [instructional design], but we couldn’t support I’d rethink it probably.” that person, and that was back in the late 90s, 32!THE OPERATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
  • 33. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 early 2000s. We would refer people to an outside instructional designer, and, quite honestly, associations are notoriously shortsighted when it comes to that. Oftentimes they just don’t want to spend the money for it, and unfortunately sometimes the programs suffer for that.” • “Right now we don’t have the funds or the support [to use professional instructional designers],” said one interviewee who came the association world from ASTD, so you can imagine how sorely he feels the lack. For organizations that opt to forego professional instructional designers, that may not mean they aren’t thinking about instructional design: The real advantage with Staff Person X is that we have so many acronyms of things that go on in our world, and she understood the terminology. Rather than trying to explain to an instructional designer what all this terminology meant, she was already there, and it was on-the-job learning how to do instructional design. She’s really very self- taught and has learned a lot of this stuff herself. She’s taken us to something that we hadn’t been able to do before. Others echo the sentiment that e-learning is not rocket science: “I’ve learned that regardless of what the program is you have to be able to get the information you need from the experts and deliver it in a way that it needs to be delivered, what it is, training program, doesn’t really matter. It’s all the same for me.” 33!THE OPERATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
  • 34. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 “When I came [to the association], there was already one course being sold on the Internet as an e-learning course. It was basically 400 PowerPoint slides from our face-to-face course.... It has sold pretty well despite some of its challenges.” Summary slides to e-learning will rise. Whether using these tools on their own or working with outside service This chapter focused on operational issues—we providers, we also expect to see a surge in the looked at the types of e-learning products amount of place-based conference content that associations are offering, who’s responsible for associations convert into on-demand online leading their e-learning initiatives, and how they’re learning. getting it done, both in terms of tools, like PowerPoint and Flash, and strategies, like Economic pressures to make the best use of already outsourcing and whether to pay the price for tight resources are increasing. Associations will professional instructional design. handle some e-learning in house to avoid additional invoices, but they’ll also turn to vendors and We’ll conclude with some trends and opportunities consultants to draw on expertise and allow limited we see and questions to ask of your organization as staff to attend to other priorities—which is to say, you begin to plan or continue to purse an e-learning outsourcing is likely to remain part of a “healthy” program. resourcing mix. But we believe the use of e- learning service providers and consultants will Trends and Predictions become more thoughtful as associations build We believe in the next year more associations, their own knowledge and experience and see including ones with small budgets and small outsourcing as a strategic choice rather than a staffs, will throw their hats in the e-learning ring. necessary one. Tools have gotten cheaper, better, and easier, and many organizations are finding success with Related to the previous point, as organizations seek “simpler” e-learning formats, like teleconferences, to grow their e-learning offerings and create higher- online chats, and Webinars. Your offerings don’t quality products, we believe interest in have to be fancy or expensive to succeed. And with instructional design will increase. Organizations the current economic recession, the travel-savings will make efforts to build capacity in-house as well appeal of e-learning will only ring truer. as to contract with outside instructional designers. PowerPoint is a mainstay of corporate training, and there’s every reason to believe it will remain prevalent in the association world too. We predict the use of tools (like Articulate Presenter or Adobe Captivate) that make it easy to convert PowerPoint 34!THE OPERATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
  • 35. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Questions to Consider leverage the resources of other functional areas 1.What is your process for determining the forms across the organization to deliver, market, and of e-learning you offer and the topics you support your e-learning offerings? address? Do you have a standardized process 5.How can you use outsourcing strategically for for working with subject matter experts to e-learning to scale and complement your create your e-learning products and services? internal skill set? What is the association’s Have you documented these processes in a overall take on outsourcing? Is outsourcing way that they can be shared with those who used elsewhere in the organization? How? If need to know them? you have no Flash programmer, look for that 2.If you’re considering starting an e-learning skill in a service provider; if you have no program, which format or formats are right for professional instructional designer and think your audience, topic, budget, and human that is important, look for that in a vendor. resources (including staff, contractors, and 6.Are you asking for—and getting!—valuable vendors)? Is your audience tech-savvy and input from any outside service providers you impressed by bells and whistles, or are they use? Look for vendors who provide more than wary of new technology and need a lot of just a tool and can help support your overall e- handholding? What are you capable of and learning initiative. comfortable doing internally? As an example, 7.Has your leadership tried your (or other) e- live Webinars may be more difficult to schedule learning and provided feedback? Getting your for international organizations because time leadership’s buy-in and participation can be differences leave a small slice of overlapping critical to making your e-learning program work hours and because different regulations really work. (and therefore topics) apply, but the extra effort allows you to connect people who wouldn’t otherwise get to interact. 3.If you already have an e-learning program, is it time to branch out into new products, or do you need to cut back to focus strategically on the successful offerings? Think about how your products fit together and fit with the rest of the association’s work. Can your publications become sources for e-learning topics, or vice- versa? 4.Whether you already have an e-learning program in place or plan to add one, what is your approach to building capacity for e- learning in your organization? Do you have a good understanding internally of adult learning principles and instructional design as they relate to e-learning? How will you 35!THE OPERATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
  • 36. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Cindy Hartley Director of member relations at the Southern Building Material Association Cultivating Success Southern Building Material Association When Cindy Hartley launched a Webinar series for the Southern Building Material Association (SBMA), a group that serves building materials dealers across four states, she knew success was not guaranteed. “My industry does not tend to be the most technologically advanced,” explained Hartley. “To help make sure that I was successful,” Hartley continued, “I went to our board of directors and urged them to help, ‘Please join us for the first one. I need your input on how this worked, what you think should be changed, what benefits you see in it. You are a member of our board of directors, and I really want your support in developing this.’” Hartley personally sent the board members registration forms for Webinars and called them to remind them she needed their support “I called [our board] on and feedback on SBMA’s first foray into e-learning. Hartley said that the telephone and said, ‘I need you to support this. enlisting the board was a “tremendously helpful” part of getting the We will never get started program off the ground, but she didn’t stop there. if we can’t get the first [Webinar] done....’” Hartley also embraced the enthusiasm of SBMA’s sister organizations who contacted her when they saw the Webinar program and asked to CIndy Hartley, director of member participate. “[T]hey asked how we were doing it. When they saw us relations put out the second and third ones, they asked if they could join in.” So Hartley created a registration form the other organizations could use and brand with their logo. Now when SBMA delivers a Webinar, the attendees may include members from sister organizations across the country. SBMA bills its sister organizations at cost for the attendees, but Hartley lets them keep the profit. “We get participation,” said Hartley, “not a tremendous amount, but a little bit from all over the place gives you enough to do these kinds of things when you are small.” Given current economic conditions, the Webinar series has replaced the face-to-face trainings that SBMA used to deliver across the region. Hartley does not expect that to be a permanent situation. Eventually the organization will offer both place-based and online training, but in the meantime, Hartley has found the right partners to ensure success of her current program. 36!CASE STUDY
  • 37. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 The Business Perspective Revenue, Strategy, Promotion, and Competition Using the data from our online survey and our learning is thus a line of business rather than a cost interviews, we concentrate in this section on the center for most organizations. At a minimum, it business perspective of e-learning, which needs to operate on a revenue-neutral basis, encompasses the strategy that drives an e-learning bringing in enough income to cover costs. For many initiative, the expenses and income, the marketing organizations, it also need to contribute positive of offerings, and the competition that can shape revenue to the bottom line. programs. As might be expected, our research suggests that the The Revenue Imperative vast majority of association e-learning programs must be at minimum self-sustaining, and most are One of the key ways in which association e-learning also charged with generating positive net revenues. differs from online education and training in the commercial corporate sector is that most associations look to e-learning—and to education in general—as a source of non-dues revenue. E- 16.1% 33.7% Which of the following statements describes your financial goals for your current e-learning offerings? The vast majority of association e-learning programs must be at a minimum self- sustaining. Must be self-sustaining but profitability not required Must be self-sustaining and profitable Doesn’t need to be self-sustaining (costs subsidized) 50.2% To meet their goal of financial sustainability, most 14.0% organizations charge for at least some of their e- learning offerings, and a significant percentage charge for all of their offerings. 42.3% Does your association charge for its e-learning offerings? Some 86 percent charge for at least some offerings. 43.7% Charge for all offerings Charge for some offerings Don’t charge for offerings 37!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 38. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 All the association representatives had put an organizational e-learning interviewed for this report indicated a goal strategy in place. of breaking even on the direct costs associated with e-learning. These costs Our conversations with the associations include, for example, technology licensing interviewed for this report as well as our fees as well as payments to vendors for own experience in the field for many years Webinar or course development services. suggests that most organizations approach In most cases, the interviewees also e-learning strategy in an informal, seat-of- indicated a desire to cover indirect costs, the-pants way. As one of our interviewees meaning primarily staff time allocated to e- put it, being given the time and resources learning, but in many cases the to formally develop and document an e- organization did not track these costs learning strategy is “an indulgence.” closely and thus did not have a clear idea We did not ask about e-learning strategy in of whether they were being covered or not. our original survey. We did, however, Most of the organizations interviewed conduct a follow-up survey among depended on revenue generated from sales organizations that have implemented e- of e-learning programs to cover costs learning programs and asked these associated with producing and delivering organizations whether they have a formal, the programs. In a few instances, however documented e-learning strategy. Only 30 —particularly in fields tied to medicine or percent of the respondents said they do. public health—organizations had A comment from one of the respondents to established or were attempting to establish the survey seems typical of how e-learning a practice of securing sponsorships or strategy is handled at many organizations: grants from corporations or government entities to underwrite production and delivery costs. In the medical field, it We do Webinars as part of our training remains to be seen whether future for nonprofits. We do budgeting around sponsorships will be impacted by recent it. We talk about it. But there’s not legislation by Massachusetts and other really anything “documented” beyond states to place restrictions on funding of budgets and the workshop descriptions. continuing medical education (CME) Does your Its sad and surely not a best practice, organization have programs by pharmaceutical and medical a formal, but were so busy putting on trainings device companies. documented that we dont have much time to be very strategy for e- planful. learning? Right at 60 percent Strategy do not have a formal e-learning In a 2005 survey of associations by Jennifer Our view is that a number of factors will strategy. DeVries of BlueStreak contribute to e-learning being viewed more Learning, 89 percent of strategically in the coming years. Certainly respondents stated that the current state of the economy will be 9.1% having an e-learning one factor. Organizational leaders will look strategy was either to cut their own costs (which e-learning 30.9% critical or very important may or may not do) and to provide lower to their professional cost options for members whose travel success. But only 31 budgets have been slashed, or in some percent of respondents cases, cut entirely. The current economy aside, the growth of green thinking, the 60.0% Formal e-learning strategy growing array of cheap and easy e-learning technologies, and the coming of age of a No formal strategy Not sure generation that is comfortable doing 38!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 39. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 almost everything online will generate more convincing organizational leaders of the full benefit demand and tear down remaining barriers. can be an uphill battle. One director reported: Organizations will have to pursue e-learning more strategically or risk losing learners—and members We have been able to earn back our investment for —to competition that sees the opportunity in our asynchronous stand-alone course, which is offering online educational products. not inexpensive to do. But I think that a lot of people tend to look at return on investment in a Return on Investment very narrowly specific financial way because that’s the way most people think. I’ve been able to Whether through sales, sponsorships, or both, the work with my association to help them timelines—and the corresponding amount of understand that there are a lot of different ways to pressure—that organizations indicated for look at that, even financially. So for example, we achieving a positive return on investment varied are able to say that we have earned significantly from organization to back the broad scope of the organization. As a rule, the “[E]-learning is investment but what a lot of people organizations with which we spoke bringing in a lot of don’t think about is...the investment expected their Webinars to operate people into the that we made in the asynchronous profitably or on a break-even basis either from day one or within less organization that [e-learning] course was roughly the normally weren’t same kind of investment we would than a year. Among organizations participating with make, in terms of expenses, for two that had invested in more the organization of our dozen or so live, in-person sophisticated on-demand products, previously.” sessions per year. But the many anticipated a two- to three- asynchronous course...is always out year horizon before their programs there—and we estimated that it has would achieve positive net revenues at least a three-year shelf life for the and indicated that senior topic—so because of that we can say, management and the board accepted we reached 400 learners and this as a necessary period for growing, for the same investment producing a return. In other cost where we might have only hit instances, the pressure to operate 57 people for one that was in-person. profitably was much higher. “This That’s when they realized that it’s department, from the very not just an upfront investment; it’s beginning, has had to show it is a a matter of reach, and it’s a matter of profit center,” a director at one final per-student, per-learner cost organization said. over time. [I]t has to show revenue, it has to One of the providers we interviewed show gross revenue.... Whereas some of our other expanded on this line of thinking, suggesting that [educational offerings] were loss leaders, some of senior management, and ultimately the board, at our courses and face-to-face conferences, were many associations tend to think too narrowly about allowed to be loss leaders for two or three years the strategic potential of e-learning: until they built up an audience, we never once were able to be a loss leader, and that’s very If I were a forward-thinking association executive difficult. I would think about what this means to the organization, not in dollars and cents A tension between the need to generate a return—or immediately, but in terms of...member retention, at least break even—and the desire to serve learners providing services to members that they are going well was palpable in many of the interviews. Even to value, especially with what is happening in the in cases where programs have been successful from economy and association memberships and a financial standpoint, interviewees indicated that spending are going to be looked at much more critically, and as an association executive I want 39!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 40. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 to keep those members, and I want to Among the associations we interviewed, keep them engaged, and I think there are there was clearly nervousness about the many opportunities to keep them potential for a significant drop in engaged through e-learning. And e- registrations for conferences and face-to- learning might take many different face meetings. For most of the forms; it might be providing services to organizations we talked to, it was too soon them to help them maintain their to tell what impact, if any, the economic certification; it might include some of downturn would have on these offerings, the things that incorporate social media but some were already beginning to see a to get members talking to one another negative trend in registrations for their and helping one another. That’s the place-based events. approach that I would take, but there are not a lot of execs who can do that On the other hand, most of the associations because they don’t have the support of and providers we spoke to indicated that their board. A board wants to see money. the downturn would likely drive growth in e-learning investment. For providers, in The Impact of the Economy particular, this is a positive trend, as the desire to cut risk related to room rentals, Regardless of its broader strategic meals, travel costs, and other expenses potential, it seems likely that current related to place-based education will economic conditions will cause many almost certainly lead to more spending on organizational leaders to look more closely Web-based solutions for delivering at e-learning as an approach to cutting education. In the short term, this spending costs and possibly generating new seems most likely to be directed at revenues to replace revenues declining in Webinars or at services related to capturing other areas. and productizing conference content. As indicated in the initial chapter of this Significant investment in higher-priced report, respondents to the survey indicated content development as well as learning an increase in budgeting for e-learning management systems, on the other hand, programs, even as budgets for education in seems likely to remain flat or decline. general appear to be flattening out. Is the economic downturn negatively impacting e-learning technology providers? “The short answer is no. The long answer is no.” 40!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 41. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Even in cases where organizations do invest more in provide training for licensing and other things, e-learning products and services, it is unclear at this but their entire training budget has been point whether registrations for Web-based completely cut so they are piece-making different programs will rise at all, much less to a degree subject matter expertise within their staff to necessary to offset the potential decline in revenue provide the training that is required by law, which from place-based programs. Recent data from the we know is not going to ensure the most qualified American Society of Association Executives and trained staff working in these licensed suggests that the trend for registrations may turn programs. We’re totally shifting our sales and downward. marketing strategy from a high-level decision maker to sell a large block of courses to a direct-to- Based on this study, reports of a vast migration consumer, “in this economy you should be the from face-to-face gatherings to online alternatives most trained and qualified person, and here’s what appear to overstate the case. Of people who only we have to provide you” model. attended in-person events last year, only three percent say there’s a high probability they’ll only We just recently made that decision.... [R]eally we attended virtual events this year. In fact, if there’s didn’t launch, launch full on with a full catalog a migration at all, it’s going the other way: Nine until October, and we began making sales calls percent of people who only attended virtual after our launch party at our annual meeting, and programs last year say they’re likely to attend at that time directors were still willing to listen to only a face-to-face meeting this year. us, and we were giving out promo codes, and they wanted to go and look at the stuff and see how it Another area that is likely to be impacted by the would fit in. Now that we are making our follow- downturn is bulk sales of courses to corporations, up calls to that same batch of people, they are all government agencies, or other organizations telling us that they looked at it, and it’s great, but interested in training a large group of employees. they don’t have any money. So the difference Training is traditionally one of the first budget areas between October and January is huge. We were cut when times are tight. Associations that sell to kind of banking on [agency purchases], and as a training departments will almost certainly see result we are totally shifting our sales and longer sales cycles or decisions by potential marketing strategy. purchasers to cut training purchases. One of the organizations we interviewed related how the Finally, along with the possible impact on decline in demand at government agencies had registrations and large sales, there is a less obvious caused them to revamp their entire sales strategy: and potentially longer-lasting change that the downturn could bring. There is already a tendency [W]e wanted to talk with high-level decision across the sector to price e-learning lower than makers and get them to buy licenses to our course similar place-based offerings. In the current catalog for a broad distribution within their economy, many organizations may be inclined to agency, particularly because we have a lot of lower prices even further as a show of support for trainings that are fundamentally required for members. Raising prices when conditions improve, licensing reasons...and we felt like that would be a however, tends to be more difficult. It is far too soon great way to make a large chunk of change off of to tell, but a general deflation of e-learning price each sale without nickel and diming. points—and a corresponding drop in margins— may turn out to be one of the legacies of the current We’ve priced our stuff at anywhere between $20 economy. and $50 per course, which is extraordinarily reasonable, but we price it that way because we Product want the volume, and our plan to achieve volume was through this license concept, and across the As indicated in the chapter “The Operational board training budgets have been cut within Perspective,” associations have embraced a variety agencies to the level that we talk to agency heads, of formats for e-learning, with live Webinars being and they know that they have a requirement to the most popular format by a significant margin. 41!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 42. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Based on our interviews, product format decisions number of interviewees was how “tangible” or tend to be driven less by formal assessment of “actionable” the content for an e-learning offering member needs and more by internal resource is. Here is how one of the providers we interviewed considerations and a general perception of what put it: other associations are doing. In our brief follow up survey on e-learning strategy, the vast majority (65.5 What we definitely have seen is tangible content, percent) of respondents indicated that their meaning content they can walk away with and do organization does not have a formal product something with, those are going to drive more development process for e-learning. registrations than the more high-level, executive- level content. But I think that’s always been the Webinars are seen as requiring a case; I don’t know that that is necessarily a Find hot relatively low amount of direct reflection of a change in times as much as a topics. investment. They leverage an reflection of just people that are most likely to educational model already attend a Webinar. What kind of content are they “Hot topics will always deeply familiar to associations— going after? If you can provide a Webinar with sell. But an expert speaker, most typically very discernible output, you are going to have other than a member volunteer, delivering a better attendance. Let me give you the most basic that, I really dont know.” presentation on a timely or example I can think of. For some reason, perennially popular topic—and, regardless of the industry that you are presenting as several of the associations we this to, if you were to promote an Excel Webinar interviewed put it, all the other on how to use Excel to analyze data, it will do associations are doing, and we great. It always does. For some reason people need to keep up. think, “I’m going to go here. I’m going to get 10 cool things I can walk away from related to Excel, Topics, rather than format, seemed to absorb the which is a tool that if I don’t use it I think I should greater part of strategic thinking about e-learning know how to use it.” Very tangible topic. products at the associations we interviewed. In general, topic decisions are driven by a combination Finally, perhaps one of the most important demand of committee or board input, staff knowledge—or drivers for e-learning over the long term is whether intuition—about the topics most relevant to an organization offers some form of valued credit members, or in limited cases, surveys of the for successful completion of a learning experience. membership base. Few of the organizations with Credit may take many forms. It may be actual which we spoke had a formal process in place for continuing education credit, as discussed in the next determining the size of the potential market for a section, or it may be a certificate or validation that product, the strength of demand in the market, or some form of compliance has been met. The key, the purchasing process in the market. however, is less the credit itself and more the value associated with the credit. Industries where certain “Hot” topics were cited by all the organizations we interviewed as one of the main drivers of demand for e-learning. These tend to be topics related to Drive demand for your e-learning with key compliance, regulatory, or public “emergency” type factors. issues. A recall of tainted peanut butter, for •Timely or perennially popular topics example, was going on at the time we interviewed representatives for the Institute of Food •Actionable content Technologists. This sort of situation creates instant •Required or highly valued credit demand for education. The current economic crises The smaller or more competitive your market, the more has also created demand for a range of topics important these factors become. related to weathering the storm. Aside from the topic being timely and relevant to learners, another key demand driver indicated by a 42!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 43. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 types of compliance are required, where some form once accreditation is established. Even relatively of certification is required or highly valued, or simple certificate programs that do not offer where a certain number of continuing education continuing education credit can generate a credits must be earned annually tend to have higher significant amount of operational overhead. demand for all of their educational offerings, and e- learning shares in this demand. As a matter of strategy, however, common sense suggests that, all else being equal, a learner will CONTINUING EDUCATION AND CERTIFICATION choose an educational experience that offers some Whether to award some form of credit for e- form of credit over one that does not. For the most learning is an important decision both operationally part, associations appear inclined to place strategic and strategically for an organization. From an considerations ahead of whatever operational operational standpoint, there is typically a burdens the awarding of credit may create. Among significant amount of footwork to be done simply to the respondents to our survey, the majority of be accredited for providing continuing education organizations that offer or plan to offer e-learning credits—even for a certification or credential also award or plan to award some form of credit. maintained by the association itself—and usually there are reporting requirements to be followed Among the organizations we interviewed, most award some form of credit—most commonly Which type of credit does your organization currently offer or plan to offer for e-learning? Check all that apply. The majority of organizations offering or planning to offer e-learning also award or plan to award some form of credit. 35.4% No credit 33.3% 43.0% Continuing education (CE or CEU) 41.2% 10.1% Continuing medical education (CME) 13.2% 1.8% Current e-learning Continuing legal education (CLE) 5.3% Planned e-learning 8.3% Continuing professional education (CPE) 10.5% 31.8% Certificate of successful completion 32.5% 31.8% Credit towards a credential 25.4% 4.3% Credit towards a degree 1.8% 5.4% Other 5.3% 43!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 44. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 continuing education (CE) or continuing education units (CEU)—for some or all of their e-learning. While most of the organizations and all the “One of our goals is providers interviewed agreed that credit is a key demand driver for e- to create programs learning, offering credit comes with its challenges. that are so good that people will One organization we interviewed has chosen so far not to offer credit want to be there because of the operational challenges noted above. A representative from an whether they get organization that does offer credit noted internal challenges in putting credit credit or not.” in place for e-learning. [Credit] continues to be a challenge. Some of our leadership groups aren’t sure if they are comfortable with e-learning. They might be okay with it in addition to the face-to-face, as a supplement or a bonus or an add-on, but there’s a lot of them who do not want it substituting for a face-to-face class. So we’ve tried to lay the ground work with some of the committees and leadership...to get them comfortable. So, at this point some of our stuff counts but some doesn’t. Some of it’s kind of substitutable for a face-to-face experience and some of it isn’t. So, we’re trying to get to the point where it truly is a range of choices that interchange nicely together so people have a full range of choices and it’s not perceived as compromising quality. Right now it would be perceived as comprising quality. If we came out and said, you can take this whole thing to get your certification and never set foot in a classroom, or not very much, there would be some people that would have a problem with that so we’re trying to deal with that. Aside from addressing leadership’s concerns about awarding credit for e- learning, some association educators wrestle with their own concerns about credit as one of the primary motives any educational activity—online or off. One association representative said: That’s one of our concerns...that some of our enrollment, or a lot of it in some cases, is driven by people who may not value the learning or don’t want to be there, but they want the credential. One of our goals is to create programs that are so good that people will want to be there whether they get credit or not. But the reality is a lot of the folks are there because there is credit attached to it, and if there wasn’t, there would be fewer people there. Credit and certification are double-edged swords. Markets where their importance is already established tend to be more competitive markets. So there may be a large base of prospects, but organizations have to work harder and smarter to convert them into customers. The market for continuing medical education (CME) is perhaps the clearest example of this phenomenon. Physicians are required to earn a minimum number of credits per year to maintain credentials in their specialties. This requirement essentially forces high demand for educational offerings, and as a result, has attracted a large number of e-learning suppliers and products into the market. Associations that hope to compete in this market have to offer credit, but credit in itself is not enough to attract purchasers. 44!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 45. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Barbara Swarthout (left) and Melissa Polito Director of e-learning programs (left) and e-learning instructional designer at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans More Demand for “Fresher,” Shorter Topics International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans In the fall of 2008, the International Foundation of Employee Benefits (IFEBP) launched its 60-Minute Power Series, “a collection of nine live Webcasts that are along the lines of practical, how-to information,” described Barbara Swarthout, director of e-learning programs. Early data shows these 60-minute Webinars sell better than IFEBP’s 90-minute Webinars. What’s the secret? Finding fresh topics that are in demand and marketing them the right way. “These Power Series were very successful...we projected 450 registered sites, and we got 419 registered sites. So in our book, compared to what we’d been doing on the 90-minute side, these were extremely “[T]hese were extremely successful. We think successful.” Swarthout continued, “We think it’s it’s because we bundle them and because there because we bundle them and because there are are such different topics—they are more how-to such different topics—they are more how-to topics; we have real-life scenarios.” topics; we have real-life scenarios.” Learners can Barbara Swarthout, director of e-learning programs buy three, six, or all nine Webcasts in a Power Series—or individual sessions. IFEBP works with volunteer subject matter experts (SMEs) for its 90-minute Webinars, which can sometimes be adaptations of presentations the SMEs have already given elsewhere. But when branching out to find unique topics for the Power Series, IFEBP realized that recruiting volunteers to develop a presentation from scratch would be a big task. So they moved to a paid-SME model. “For the 60-minute program we offer [the SMEs] $200 to do it, so I can request things a little bit easier than with our 90-minute programs,” explained Melissa Polito, e-learning instructional designer at IFEBP. “We ask them to put in workplace scenarios that people can work through, practical examples of the material during the presentation. I also ask them for a quick reference guide that we put together on the topic, so that the attendees can have that before the event.” Although paying the SMEs clearly adds to the cost of the Power Series, if the early popularity continues, this is the kind of expense it’s easy to afford. 45!CASE STUDY
  • 46. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Pricing System categories. The chart on the following page contains data from industries where at least five Given the wide range of industries that associations respondents provided pricing information for serve as well as the variability in product offerings current e-learning offerings. The number of from organization to organization, any organizations that provided pricing information in a generalizations about pricing in the sector have to particular industry is indicated in parentheses be taken with a sizable grain of salt. To attempt to beside the industry name. establish some benchmarks for average and median pricing levels across the sector, we asked survey PRICING AND FORMATS participants to think about their e-learning Based on our experience and the interviews offerings in terms of a dollar amount per hour of conducted for this report, our sense is that the content or per credit unit delivered. While this average pricing for Webinars is probably a good bit approach has limitations, particularly with respect higher than the averages that encompass pricing for to organizations that sell access to their e-learning all types of e-learning. One provider indicated that libraries on a subscription basis, our experience $125 for a 90-minute sessions is the lowest price suggests that it represents the most common way charged by any of his company’s clients for a that associations tend to think about content pricing Webinar; another indicated an average price of $230. for e-learning. The lower-end of this range—which breaks down to PRICING ACROSS INDUSTRIES approximately $83 per content hour—is in line with what we heard from most of the organizations we Determining how pricing breaks down across interviewed. Not surprisingly, the organizations we various industries is challenging because there is interviewed that used a third party to manage their not, to our knowledge, a uniform way in which Webinars tended to charge more for them. association identify the industry they serve. Additionally, associations may serve multiple In distinguishing between Webinars and other industries or focus on an issue rather than an formats, however, it is important to realize that industry. In attempting to Webinars are often purchased on a per-site basis, establish the industry of survey rather than on a per-person basis. In other words, an respondents, we used an organization may purchase a Webinar and then abbreviated and somewhat have several people gather in a room to log in to the modified version of the North Webinar and participate. Conversations with American Industry Classification vendors in the Webinar market suggest that an Current e-learning Planned e-learning $73.97 Break down the pricing for your e-learning $56.79 offerings $52.24 $53.80 (excluding any free offerings). On average, how much (in $40.00 $40.00 $39.00 U.S. dollars) does your organization $30.00 charge or plan to charge members per hour of content and per hour of credit for an e- learning offering? Average per content hour Median per content hour Average per credit hour Median per credit hour 46!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 47. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 average of four people attend a Webinar at any given site. So, on a per-course or per-credit-hour and per-person basis, pricing for Webinars may well be on par with, or even quite a bit lower than, for other types of content. On the other hand, a provider well versed in pricing for on-demand product offerings felt that the $56.79 average pricing for a content hour suggested by survey results sounded “about right.“ This number also jibes with our experience in working with organizations that offer on-demand e-learning products. In general, the market seems to assign a pricing premium to content that is facilitated, whether in real time or asynchronously. The following table shows pricing levels when a particular type of content is included in the associations product mix. When real-time Webcasts and Webinars, facilitated courses, and member-only discussion boards are present, pricing levels per content hour are above the sector average. Conversely, on-demand content tends to drive pricing levels below the sector average. (See the chart on the following page.) Average and median costs per content hour and per credit, grouped by industry. In most, but not all, industries, pricing per credit hour is slightly higher than pricing per content hour. $22.25 Average per content hour $21.25 Median per content hour Health care: physicians (10) $29.70 Average per credit hour $23.00 Median per credit hour $45.89 Health care: non-physicians (29) $25.00 $45.89 $25.00 $51.00 Construction (10) $57.00 $52.63 $57.00 $46.25 Manufacturing (8) $42.50 $55.00 $55.00 $48.63 Legal and financial services (16) $39.50 $36.50 $32.50 $83.70 Education (25) $77.50 $140.75 $80.00 $15.43 Real estate (7) $15.00 $12.60 $10.00 47!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 48. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 It should be noted that these numbers say nothing credit may have the opposite effect. Organizations about the overall financial performance of programs with a certification program in place report an containing a particular content type. Underlying average price per hour of content of $46.89 as costs and potential volume can vary dramatically opposed to $62.05 for organizations that do not from one format to the next. A low-priced on- offer any form of certification. Similarly, demand offering, for example, may become a cash organizations that offer credit towards a cow for an organization after the initial investment certification or other credential report an average for producing it is recouped because the ongoing price per hour of $47.66 while those that do not incremental costs for supporting are so low. What offer such credit report an average price of $68.45. these numbers imply, however, is that a perception persists in the market that facilitated experiences While these figures may seem counterintuitive, the are more valuable. We can only speculate why this explanation is most likely that markets where is, but common sense suggests that facilitated certification exists, or where securing the ability to formats feel more familiar both to providers and offer continuing education credit is seen as participants and that people tend to assume that worthwhile, are likely to be more competitive learning is more effective when human-to-human markets where both demand and the corresponding interaction is involved. supply of content are higher. Particularly in the early stages of such a market, a glut of competing While facilitated formats may command higher suppliers tends to drive prices down. pricing, it appears that the presence of a certification program and continuing education Pricing levels Real-time Webinars $65.81 when a particular type of content is Facilitated online courses $61.28 included in the associations product mix. Member-only discussion boards $61.19 When real-time Webinars, facilitated courses, and member-only “Off-the-shelf” courses $53.20 discussion boards are present, pricing levels per content CD-ROMs and DVDs $52.03 hour are above the sector average. Conversely, on- Self-paced courses $49.26 demand content tends to drive pricing levels below the sector average. Offline with online assessments $48.03 Blended learning $46.98 Electronic study guides $38.29 Recorded Webinars $34.43 Educational simulations or games $33.89 Audio or video podcasts $32.98 48!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 49. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 PRICING AND AGE OF PROGRAM reason for starting the program initially. As the The survey data shows a roller-coaster pattern for organization attempts to move beyond its initial pricing over the course of building an e-learning offerings, finding the right model can be difficult. program. Pricing is higher in year one, drops in year We have seen, in our own experience, a tendency two, rises again in years three to five, and then for organizations to start cutting prices when initial drops back down again. demand falters. We’re not inclined to make too much of these By years three to five, a program numbers until we see how they change over time. has typically either found its There are logical reasons, however, for why such a footing or has retrenched or shut pattern might emerge. Typically, when an down. The possibility for organizations starts an e-learning program, there is bolstering pricing emerges. Finally, a certain amount of low-hanging fruit—areas of by the time an organization has hit clear need that are likely a significant part of the the five-year mark, on-demand $65.68 $62.09 $49.26 $48.11 Average price per content hour, by age of the e-learning program. The survey data shows a roller- coaster pattern. Less than 1 year 1 to 2 years 3 to 5 years More than 5 years formats tend to be a more significant part of the product mix than in the earlier years in which live Webinars tend to dominate. Among survey respondents, 79.1 percent of organizations that have been using e-learning for more than five “We priced them pretty steeply at first; they years report offering self-paced online courses and were $295 originally, when we came out tutorials, and 76.7 report offerings on-demand with a course three years ago. We have Webinars. Among the same group, 67.4 percent continued to drop the price, so now...one e- learning hour costs $40 for a member and indicate that they offer live Webinars. As noted $50 for a non-member. So if it’s a three-hour above, on-demand products tend to come with course, you pay $120 if you’re a member....” lower price points. An increase in the percentage of these products in the overall mix would thus logically lead to decline in prices over all. Again, it is premature to make too much of these numbers, but it will be interesting to return to them in future years to see if this pattern persists. 49!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 50. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 PRICING STRATEGY AND MODELS this particular content, so then we came up with How are associations determining prices for their an education package. [We have a] page on our products? Our interviews suggest that, at this point, Web site that shows you the 50 different ways that pricing tends to be based on a combination of you can pay for this course. And all of that came intuition and a general sense of what other out of...asking, “Who are the various possible associations are charging. Providers also have students for this course, and what makes sense?” significant influence. While most of the providers we talked with said that they are not directly Two strategies that we have seen gain ground over involved in setting the pricing, all of them indicated the years as some organizations have built out a that they are typically asked about pricing by library of online offerings are bundled course associations and that they do provide pricing offerings—grouping a set of related courses advice. together as a single product—and subscription pricing—giving a user or As with the product development organization unlimited access to a process, our follow-up survey of How do you set library of educational content over a organizations that currently offer e- prices for your e- designated period. One association learning indicated that most do not learning offerings? representative told us: have a formal, document process for “I really don’t have a good setting prices for their e-learning. I think the most expensive single answer, and it’s somewhat embarrassing.” course we have is $55. Then we will Along with an informal process for also...do a bundle on safety, or we setting prices initially, our can do a bundle on conversations with associations also basic...techniques, group those suggest that organizations tend to be together, and the guiding principle highly reactive to the market we have there is those packages the environment as they start to role out courses are about $10 to $12 a their products. course. When we did the math, we figured that if you bought an annual I will tell you that we ended up subscription the price point ended finding out pretty quickly that we up being roughly $5 to $6 a course. needed to think of pricing in several That’s a pretty good bargain. But different ways because we have, as I subscribers are 80 percent of our said before, such a variety of business, so that is what we really memberships. So we ended up with try to drive....the guiding principles an institutional membership and an are to get that person the best value. industry membership; we ended up People renewing that year after year, with group memberships, so in other that’s the growth for us. words it starts to scale. You can get an individual access to the course or you can sign up in groups, and then the groups break out in various ways. 3.6% But then we also have a potential audience within 5.5% 20.0% students at...schools who might be interested in If your organization sells e-learning products or services, do you have a formal, documented process for setting prices? Only 20 percent have a formal pricing process. Formal pricing process No formal process Not sure Don’t charge for e-learning 70.9% 50!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 51. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 As e-learning matures in the sector, we DISCOUNTS expect to see much more course bundling, Discounts are a standard part of subscriptions sales, and deep discounting association e-learning. Most offer lower on bulk sales to large purchasers. In pricing for members than for non- general, however, pricing currently seems members. Many also offer discounts to to be an area in which there is significant students or residents (in the case of opportunity for improving e-learning medical associations), though we did not program performance. Perhaps more than ask organizations to provide information any other factor, pricing tends to serve as a about these discounts in the survey. barometer for the perceived value of a program or individual offering—both by The most common level of discount for the potential learner and by the association member purchases among organizations itself. One of the providers we interviewed currently using e-learning is from 10 to 19 commented that programs priced at more percent (24.9 percent). This was also the than $200 tend to sell better than lower- most common range selected by priced programs. It is beyond the scope of organizations planning an e-learning our survey data or this report to fully initiative (26.1 percent), though many (27.3 explore the role of pricing in association e- percent) indicated they do not yet know learning markets, but our general sense is what level discount they will offer. that in many instances associations can and should be pricing their e-learning at a higher level that is more in line with the actual value delivered. Do members of your association receive a discount on e- 12.7% 17.9% learning products and services? The most common level of discount for member 13.1% 2.6% purchases among organizations currently using e- learning is from 10 to 19 percent. 3.5% 10.5% 24.9% $1 Learning 14.8% “Last year we did $99 for a 90-minute session. Right now we are doing $59 for a 60-minute session, and then a bundled price if they do the entire series. Right now we have three series, two of which are nine sessions total, and one of them No member discount is four sessions. We were looking at it like $1 per 1% to 9% discount minute.” 10% to 19% discount “I don’t think we did it this way on purpose, but it 20% to 29% discount usually ends up being $1 per slide.” 30% to 39% discount 40% to 49% discount 50% or greater discount Other discount 51!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 52. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Certification Creates Demand; E-learning Assists National Air Duct Cleaners Association In 1995, the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) introduced the air systems cleaning specialist (ASCS) certification, which could be earned through a rigorous, 150- question, multiple-choice examination. To help candidates prepare for the exam, NADCA developed a one-day, place-based prep class. Although the certification took off, NADCA soon realized that its approach to training wasn’t working for all members, as John Schulte, executive director, shared: “What we heard from our members, the owners of the companies (really, that’s our primary audience), they said, look, I’d love to get my guy trained through your ASCS course, but I have to send him down to Florida. I’m on the West Coast, and there’s a travel expense. I can’t really afford to train all of my guys that way.” That type of feedback combined with the fact NADCA has members in 30 countries led the organization to explore e- John Schulte learning. Executive director of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association The association began with a full-day live Webinar for a flat fee of $795 (meaning companies attending could train more than one staff person from the same site), and now it’s moving to an e-learning library of resources so NADCA doesn’t have to deal with the hassles of scheduling an instructor for every offering— “It was a no-brainer for us to figure out if we or the costs of paying an could deliver this better [than place-based training].” instructor every time—and learners get on-demand John Schulte, executive director convenience. To be a member of NADCA, at least one person on staff has to be an ASCS, and NADCA membership is a common requirement for winners of six-figure jobs awarded through formal bidding processes. Add to these requirements the convenience of e-learning, and NADCA training is in demand. “Our certification and our standard and therefore our membership have all been well adopted by end users in our market.” Schulte elaborated, “So that all ties together—one drives the other basically.” Certification, or credit towards a certification—whether it’s your organization’s or not—is a powerful driver of demand, as true for e-learning and as other types of training. 52!CASE STUDY
  • 53. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Distribution government purchaser’s learning management system. Many organizations that wish to purchase E-learning is largely associated with the Web at this e-learning from an association already have a point in its evolution, and for the most part, learning management system in place and prefer to associations that offer e-learning distribute it via the track all of their online learning through that Web through some form of e-commerce transaction. system. To accommodate this need, associations Nonetheless, other forms of distribution continue to either have to be prepared to hand over content files be popular. As indicated in the chapter “The to the purchasing organization or host the files on Operational Perspective,” a significant number of their own servers in a way that they can be accessed associations still use CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs for and tracked by an outside system. distributing educational offerings. Additionally, while not covered by our survey, anecdotal Either of these scenarios is significantly easier to evidence suggests that teleseminars remain a accommodate if the association has developed its popular option. content according to major e-learning industry standards. As suggested in the chapter “The A form of delivery which we did not formally Technology Perspective,” it appears that address in our survey or in interviews with associations are either unfamiliar with or do not associations and providers is learning via handheld place much importance on these standards. Our devices such as mobile phones, MP3 players, or sense at this point is that relatively few portable video devices. Only one of the associations organizations are thinking about distribution of we interviewed indicated learning delivery via their content through outside systems. As e-learning handheld devices is something it already offers. in the sector continues to mature, we expect more One other organization indicated that it may organizations to recognize this opportunity and for introduce some form of handheld learning in the there to be a corresponding growth in adherence to future. We expect to see growth in this area over the e-learning industry standards for content packaging coming year, however, particularly among and distribution. organizations that serve members who are highly mobile in their MARKET PENETRATION day-to-day work and tend not to One of the interviewees caveated, “There’s a whole spend much or any time at a desk. lot of, as you know, asterisks around this one,” but, Another channel of distribution as with pricing, we sought through the survey to that surfaced in interviews was establish an initial benchmark for the level of the possibility of delivering of e- penetration that organizations appear to be learning via a corporate or achieving with their e-learning programs. To help limit the number of asterisks somewhat we focused 18.2% our question on the percentage of members served. The average penetration numbers did not vary significantly based on the age of the program. Older programs indicated penetration numbers slightly above the group average—19.4 percent for What percentage of your 10.0% membership base would you estimate participates in at least one e- learning offering from your organization annually? Average Median 53!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 54. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 programs three to five years old and 18.8 percent for reality for most organizations. At a minimum, these programs more than five years old. The penetration numbers may serve as a starting benchmark, along rate for programs less than a year old was 17.8 with the average pricing figures above, in percent, and for those one to two years old, it was establishing the level of revenue that might be 16.6 percent. It is interesting that penetration expected from an e-learning product offering. averages follow a roller coaster pattern similar to that noted for pricing. The median across all groups Promotion was 10 percent except for programs three to five When we asked during our interviews in what area years old, for which the median was 15 percent. associations tend to fall short in achieving their e- learning goals, marketing was by far the most Naturally, penetration numbers can vary greatly common response from both associations and based on industries, formats, topics, and other providers. In nearly all instances, what is really factors. In our interviews, organizations indicated meant is a specific aspect of marketing: promotion. penetration ranges from 2 percent to 80 percent. The chart below suggests Nonetheless our own experience as well as the which forms of promotion tend overall input from the associations and providers to be most popular among How important are we interviewed suggest that the 18.2 percent each of the following associations with e-learning methods for average and 10 percent median are not far from programs. promoting or marketing your e- learning offerings? 64.3% E-mail marketing 28.7% 4.7% 2.3% 42.9% Word of mouth 40.9% 14.6% 1.6% 15.5% Banner ads on own Web site 34.3% 26.9% 23.3% 14.2% Search engine optimization 22.8% 21.1% 41.8% 10.5% Print mailings 24.2% 36.3% 29.0% 8.8% Press releases 21.3% 32.6% 37.2% 7.9% Conference exhibits 19.4% 37.2% 35.5% 3.0% Promotional Webcasts 12.3% 21.6% 63.1% Absolutely necessary 2.6% Very important Banner ads on other Web sites 13.2% Slightly important 25.2% 59.0% Not at all important 2.6% Pay-per-click advertising 7.0% 17.8% 72.6% 0% TV ads 0.9% 3.5% 95.7% 0% Radio ads 0.4% 4.0% 95.6% 54!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 55. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 The prevalence of e-mail marketing is not surprising absolutely necessary. In our conversations with —nearly any seasoned Internet marketer will put e- association representatives, most felt that search mail at the top of the list of effective marketing tools was an area in which their marketing efforts could for Web commerce. In conversations with be improved, though many noted that search within associations and providers, however, it was clear their own Web sites rather than across the broader that using e-mail effectively is something of a Web was the first place that needed attention. challenge. Promotional Webcasts were indicated as a In many cases, e-learning programs are competing marketing method by only one of the organizations with any number of other offerings for access to the we interviewed and were seen as very important or organization’s e-mail list and for “mind share” important by only 15.3 percent of survey within e-mails that are sent out. Associations are respondents. While pay-per-click advertising beat increasingly concerned about sending too much e- out television and radio in the survey, it was seen as mail to members. To avoid sending e-mail too very important or absolutely necessary by only 9.6 frequently, organizations often load up the e-mails percent of respondents—the only Web-based that do go out with multiple promotions, thus marketing tactic to fall below 10 percent. Only one reducing the likelihood that a promotion for a of the associations we interviewed indicated current particular e-learning product or event will be or planned use of pay-per click advertising noticed. approaches like Google AdWords. While most associations seem to understand the Over time, it seems likely that e-learning programs value of segmenting lists, our interviews suggest will need to learn to take better advantage of that actual efforts to clearly define market segments approaches other than e-mail to market their for e-learning and then implement segmentation as part of e-mail campaigns are relatively limited. “I don’t think we are very good and Another significant part of promoting e-learning is effective in our marketing. That’s one of the visibility of the available programs on the areas that I want to have a better organization’s Web site. As with e-mail, this is also understanding of, because they [the staff in an area in which e-learning must jockey for the marketing department] use my dollars. position with other parts of the organization. I put in a budget, and I give them money.” Getting on the home page, above the fold—that is, the part of the page visitors can see without scrolling down—was the prize sought by many of the organizations we interviewed. The comments of one of the education directors summed up the situation: “When our piece on the front page of our Web site is above the fold, we have an uptick in sales. When there is something more important organizationally and that’s above the fold, our offerings. Aside from the already-mentioned sales drop.” competition with other parts of the organization for Given the challenges that access to e-mail and Web use of e-mail lists, grabbing a prospect’s attention site real estate present, it is somewhat surprising with an e-mail will continue to grow more that pay-per-click advertising, search engine challenging over time. Learning to leverage search optimization (SEO), and promotional Webcasts— as well as to use social media approaches for each of which is a mainstay of current Internet bolstering word of mouth will need to be part of the marketing practices—do not appear to have much marketing mix of programs that hope to grow. of a place in current association marketing strategies for e-learning. SEO fairs the best, with 37 percent of respondents indicating that it is very important or 55!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 56. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 RELATIONSHIP WITH MARKETING and communicating about this in a new, fresh DEPARTMENT way. It’s a new, fresh thing, and some of our own While many association e-learning programs— internal limitations have hurt us there. particularly those at small associations—do not have the luxury of access to a marketing In other cases, interviewees indicated that would department for help with promoting e-learning, our welcome more engagement and help with interviews revealed some tension between e- marketing so they could concentrate more on learning and marketing at organizations with a education: marketing department. For my situation I could literally There was a sense that spend 100 percent of my time in association marketing Your “membership marketing—that would be easy departments do not have a good directory is no longer a to do. There is so much work to understanding of how to position big secret—it’s not hard to be done. It’s never ending, and and promote online educational gather large numbers of that’s true for other people too. products—or, in some cases, any people in the industry So how do we carve out products. “Our marketing together.” appropriate time for the department has never marketed education stuff? If the education products at all,” said one staff are spending all of their education director. “They have time on marketing and considered themselves strictly a promotions and chapter communications arm, so they relations, who is spending time would maybe communicate that managing the product, there was a course but they improving the product, creating didn’t really do any marketing, new products, insuring the except for the annual [meeting]. integrity of the education and all There were no postcards or that stuff? brochures or design or anything.” There is, of course, little to be In some cases, the organizational representatives we gained by an adversarial relationship with the interviewed wanted responsibility for marketing. marketing department or from stretching your “Quite honestly we would like to own more of the resources too thin in an attempt to wear all the hats marketing, we really would,” said one education that go with successfully marketing an educational director. “We understand the product, we product or service. Our hope is that as e-learning understand how it works...They [the staff in continues to establish its place in the sector, more marketing] are trying to market something that they strategic coordination between marketing and don’t know a whole lot about, and that’s not their education will emerge. problem, but we think we could do it a little bit better.” Competition Many of the organizations we interviewed were A representative from another organization aware of significant competition that already exists concurred: in their market. Others saw relatively little competition at present but were aware that the I would say the biggest issue that we’ve had is situation could change, as one interviewee marketing. We’re a very traditional association in explained: the kind of services that we offer, kind of membership affinity programs, your standard I think there are a number of associations, that if destination school or conference. We found that they don’t do it then they will have competitors our marketing team didn’t really understand how who will do it and will take the initiative and to approach this from a different perspective, so maybe carve out a significant niche. I think it we’ve had a lot of trouble getting the word out poses a fairly large risk for some associations if 56!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 57. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 they wait too long because an intense competitor us,’ which is going to continue to be a challenge for who knows the industry and who can develop us and be in an increasing challenge for us.” things rapidly could literally get things going really quickly and inexpensively and the One of the providers we interviewed also noted the associations have lost some of the things that used increasing entrance of proprietary training groups to make them exclusive. Their membership into the association e-learning market. These groups directory is no longer a big secret—it’s not hard to —which may often even include people who are gather large numbers of people in the industry association members and have traditionally been together. So I just think that as part of an subject matter experts for the association—are now environmental scan or competitiveness analysis able to take advantage of rapid, low-cost methods every association needs to at least ask the for producing and distributing educational content question, should we be doing this? If we don’t that may compete directly with what associations who else is already doing it? I bet that in many are offering. “It’s a growing threat,” said one cases somebody is already doing it even if the provider. “It has been growing for the last five association is not aware of it. years.” Several interviewees saw e-learning as something Related to the entrance of proprietary providers into that helps to make their organization more their markets, another area in which association e- competitive. “I think most associations either have learning programs may face a threat is in the sale of competitors or they will,” said one association Webinars. In the corporate world, Webinars are representative, “and they may not even be aware of increasingly seen as a tool for lead generation and them. [E-learning] kind of puts a stake in the brand expansion. As a result, it is common to see ground that other competitors will see, and they can them offered for free. As businesses become more decide how they respond to that or deal with it.” sophisticated in their Webinar marketing efforts, they are coming to understand that the most An education director at another association told us effective Webinars offer high educational value that “for the time being we are pretty much it, if paired with a low-key sales pitch. somebody wants to play in this territory, then this is where you want to be” but also noted that “we’re Additionally, a sort of commodity market is seeing an increasing competition from proprietary developing for freelance teachers seeking to earn groups who sort of go, ‘Look, they are the only ones extra income or possibly even transform their out there, and I bet that there is market space for teaching into an online business. A number of new platforms make this transformation quite easy. To maintain the ability to charge sustainable prices for their Webinar offerings, it will be increasingly important for associations to clearly articulate their unique value in the markets where they operate. “We charge $129 for our Webinars, and there are free Webinars everywhere.” 57!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 58. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 An association’s brand and ability to articulate a clear value proposition are critical to the success of an e-learning program. Summary Trends and Predictions In this chapter we considered some of the issues We believe Webinar use will continue to grow, but important to managing e-learning as a line of downward price pressure on Webinars also seems business, including the status of e-learning as a likely. Many commercial business are already well- strategic part of services provided by associations. versed in using free Webinars for lead generation, We looked at how associations price their e-learning and platforms like WiZiQ are making it easy for offerings, how they promote them, and what impact anyone with something to teach to jump in the the current economy is having. game. We’ll conclude this section with some trends and Related to the above point, but also to online opportunities we see and questions to ask of your learning in general, an association’s brand in its organization as you begin to plan or continue to niche and its ability to articulate a clear value purse an e-learning program. proposition for its educational offerings will become increasingly important. Given factors that tend to restrict effective use of e- mail for marketing association e-learning, the attention paid to marketing tactics other than e- mail is likely to increase in the coming year. Search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising, in particular, will become a more important part of the e-learning marketing mix. Competition for learners will increase. Where it doesn’t exist right now, it will start to appear. Largely as a result of the current economy, awareness of e-learning as a product-line diversification and risk-reduction strategy will increase. 58!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 59. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Questions to Consider 1.Do you have a formal strategy for e-learning, and if so, is it understood broadly across your organization? How does it contribute to the overall strategy of the organization, and how is that contribution measured? 2.Do your current e-learning offerings cover all direct and indirect costs associated with them? If not, what number of products, at what price and volume of sales would cover all costs? Are there areas where costs need to be cut to achieve a realistic business model? 3.What are the factors that do or will drive demand for your e-learning offerings? How have you aligned your products to meet those demand factors, and where could you make improvements? 4.What value does your e-learning program offer that is different from, or potentially superior to, the value offered in your face-to-face educational offerings? Is this value clearly reflected in your positioning and promotion of your e-learning offerings? 5.How large is your potential audience for any given e-learning offering, and what percentage of this audience can you expect to enroll in the offering? 6.What are the key segments in your e-learning audience? How do you know, and how much do you know about what drives the demand for e-learning in each of those segments? 7.What is your process for establishing the price for your e-learning offerings? Have you documented this process in a way that they it be shared with those who need to know it? 8.How much do you currently know about your competition, and when is the last time you updated your knowledge? 59!THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
  • 60. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 The Technology Perspective End Users, Systems, Standards, and Social Media Technology is an essential part of e-learning. they typically take to ensure as few technology Learners access the educational experience through issues as possible for their end users. a technology-driven interface, and organizations manage the details of providing access, presenting [Our] field is a little older, particularly the content, and tracking usage through a variety of decision-maker level, which is typical, and the back-end technology tools and platforms. In this lower-level employees don’t always work in a section, we draw on the online survey and our professional capacity in which they have access to interviews to examine the types of technologies a computer or know how to use it. We’ve made associations are using for e-learning delivery, how some very intentional decisions in regards to those technologies integrate with membership developing e-learning that is pretty flat and isn’t management, and the issues that arise with end really fancy because we still have people using users. dial-up connections. We’ve added in a lot of FAQs and tutorials; we do little guided things over the End User Concerns phone with people. At our conference we had four terminals set up where people could come and sit As noted earlier in this report, concern about end and learn how to use it [our e-learning] and have users’ technology skills was the most significant the staff teaching them. barrier that organizations currently offering e- learning encountered when implementing their The age of the target audience was a factor noted by initiatives. It was selected by 45.5 percent of survey many interviewees when it came to potential respondents. Among organizations planning an e- technology issues. “[A]s with any association we learning initiative, this concern ranked quite a bit have the varying membership types,” said an lower—only 35.3 percent selected it—but was still education manager we interviewed, “the folks that significant. have been in the profession for many, many years, and we have the students and new professionals At the core of potential technology issues is the fact who are maybe a little more comfortable with that associations as a group serve an incredibly technology in an online learning format.” In diverse range of end users. Just within the group of general, a younger audience was viewed by organizations that we interviewed for this report the interviewees as equating to fewer issues, but level potential learner base ranged from high school of education and general use of computers on the dropouts to PhDs, from people in their first job to job were also very significant factors. those already retired and serving as volunteers. And across this range, as one of the providers we Organizations that feel their learners are likely interviewed pointed out, there are any number of encounter technical issues often choose to work possible variations in computers, Web browsers, with a vendor or vendors that can provide a high and Internet connections—a level of variation level of support to end users. Particularly in the case significantly less likely in more tightly controlled of live Webinars, where there is less time and room corporate training initiatives. for error in ensuring that a learner can access the educational event, many associations rely heavily While our interviews suggest that end user on support from another organization. One technology skills are indeed a very real issue for interviewee described attending a Webinar hosted many organizations, the organizations we talked to by a competitor who did not use an outside service seemed to feel capable of addressing them—but provider. “We were happy we were not the only with significant effort in some cases. “It goes presenter, as it was a mess! We determined our with the territory” was the view of most student constituents are too IT needy for us to not interviewees, and most noted a number of steps use a system with support.” 60!THE TECHNOLOGY PERSPECTIVE
  • 61. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 In discussing on-demand offerings, one of the needed download or running scripts in a browser interviewees described the level of end user page. Usually the only solution available in these technology issues she had encountered as “almost cases is to work with the organizations where the nil.” problems arise to figure out a way to get needed software pre-loaded onto computers or make I think when something is designed really targeted exceptions to network policy. well...and you provide clear instructions for people on how they need to get to the course and how they need to access it, after that it should all “[W]e have had very few problems with our be embedded; it should all be clear. We had made attendees not being able to figure it [how to sure that there was an introductory section attend a Webinar] out. We have to really upfront in the course that we told everybody to spell it out sometimes. We had some start with. It told them all about how to navigate people staring at the computer screen not through the course and what the different things knowing why they weren’t hearing anything when they weren’t on the phone. So we’ve were for and all that sort of stuff, so we were very learned how to communicate the directions clear with people. We’ve gotten very few calls. The a little bit better along the way. They seem most common call we get is the same one we get to be very comfortable now with all the for our Web site, which is, ‘I forgot my log-in and technology involved. We have glitches but password.’ So I think that a well designed course nothing major.” —definitely you need a good instructional designer for online learning, to help with that— the system itself, should be easy to use. Webinar Platforms In the survey, Webinar platforms were included in Finally, a number of the organizations we spoke to the authoring tool choices (discussed in the chapter noted the issues that sometimes go with offering e- “The Operational Perspective”). We’ve separated learning to corporate and government audiences. In out the Webinar platforms here, however, for ease of many cases, IT departments at these organizations comparison. Among the platforms used by implement firewalls or policies on networked organizations, WebEx (26.6 percent) and computers that prevent users from accessing a GoToMeeting (22.5 percent) lead the pack with Microsoft Live Meeting (13.5 percent) a distant third. WebEx and GoToMeeting are the Webinar platforms most used by survey respondents. It should be noted that in many cases, organizations choose to use WebEx 26.6% a service provider to support their Webinars and may identify with GoToMeeting 22.5% the service provider as much or more than the platform itself. In these cases, given that we named Live Meeting 13.5% platforms rather than service companies, it is possible that Adobe Connect 3.7% respondents simply did not select a Webinar platform when selecting Genesys 1.8% from the available list of tools. Key examples of service providers and the platforms they support are Elluminate 0.9% CommPartners (for WebEx and Live Meeting), KRM (for Live ReadyTalk 0.9% Meeting and WebEx), and Boston Conferencing (for Live Meeting). 0% 10% 20% 30% 61!THE TECHNOLOGY PERSPECTIVE
  • 62. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Creating New Value—Globally SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings Based in Pittsburgh, SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings provides training for the industrial painting sector of the construction industry in the United States and, “Students increasingly, abroad. are able to Five years ago, the organization started offering a correspondence version of two of begin their career path its basic classroom programs—an introduction to the industry and a course on with us planning and specifying projects. Students would download a PDF version of the much more required text, complete their readings, and then take a proctored exam that was quickly than then sent back to SSPC headquarters to be graded. they were before. Also The correspondence offerings were a success, but as their popularity increased so we are able did the complexity of managing in-person exams—particularly outside the United to reach the States. “As our overseas market grew we decided to move to something a little international more sophisticated,” said Pamela Groff, technical materials development specialist audiences at SSPC. For SSPC, that meant implementing a learning management system with more content management capabilities. readily.” Pamela Groff, Working from their existing textbooks, SSPC created Web-based courses that technical included all the content from the correspondences course as well as the materials development examinations that had previously been place-based. “It’s an asynchronous online specialist at experience for the students,” explained Groff, “They can do it whenever they want SSPC all over the world. And the quizzes and final exam are graded automatically, proving the students with instant feedback.” The ability to manage the exams online has boosted operational efficiency for SSPC, cutting down on both the labor and the time needed to process grades. This newfound efficiency has, in turn, translated into higher value for many members. “Students are able to begin their career path with us much more quickly than they were before,” noted Groff. “Also we are able to reach the international audiences more readily.” Given that SSPC training of one or more employees is often required for companies to qualify to bid on contracts, greater reach and convenience are significant benefits. Since taking the initial two courses online, SSPC has added two more offerings—both of which provide initial training toward a certification career path—to its online catalog and expects to bring another nine programs online by the end of 2009. Groff envisions even more growth in the future. When asked for advice she would give to peers hoping to implement a learning management system, Groff strongly advocates talking with other associations to find out about their experiences. “We talked to about six or seven other associations,” she said. “Find out what you really need,” Groff continued, “Is it really necessary to spend half a million dollars to develop a really customized LMS? Or is a basic system suitable for your needs? You have to decide what kind of experience you are going to give to the student. Really decide what the tradeoffs are and what’s feasible within your budget.” As SSPC’s example suggest, the right decision can translate into significant value for both the association and its members. 62!CASE STUDY
  • 63. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Learning Management Systems While Webinars are often seen as a relatively easy, low-risk way to enter the e- learning market, implementation of a learning management system (LMS) or learning content management system (LCMS) is usually a sign that an organization has made the decision to invest significantly in an e-learning strategy—presumably because it sees the potential for a positive return on that investment. Like other complex software, What’s an LMS? these systems often come with significant licensing fees, and the time and cost for implementation can be substantial, A learning content management system, or particularly if integration with other LCMS, adds to the capabilities just systems is involved. mentioned by providing ways to author or import learning content objects into the Even people who are familiar with the system, edit them, assemble them into term “LMS”—and our past surveys learning experiences, and repurpose them indicate that many still are not—may not into other, different learning experiences. really understand what a learning Some vendors distinguish between their management system does. In its most basic LMS and LCMS offerings and charge form, an LMS is a type of database separately for each. Others blend them into software—not unlike, for example, a single, unified platform. Does your Microsoft Access—that is designed organization specifically for registering users for course For the purposes of this report, the term currently use a learning experiences and then tracking and LMS should be understood to encompass management maintaining data related to those course both LMS and LCMS systems unless system (LMS) or learning content experiences—for example, whether a otherwise specified. management learner has successfully completed a system (LCMS) for delivery and/ course. Just under half (49.1 percent) of the or tracking of e- respondents that currently offer e-learning learning? Just under half In the context of e-learning, LMSes have report using a learning management report using a system (LMS) or planning to within the learning evolved into very sophisticated, powerful management systems that can manage Web-based next 12 months. A significant number (33.3 system (LMS) or planning to within catalogs of courses, present learners with percent) of survey respondents indicated the next 12 months. menus of content tailored that they do not use an LMS and have no specifically for their plans to implement an LMS within the next needs, and track learners’ 12 months. The majority (61.5 percent) of progress towards organizations planning an e-learning 17.8% acquiring new initiative are unsure about whether they 34.4% competencies, will use an LMS. credentials, or other career-related goals. Not surprisingly, usage is a good bit higher among organizations currently offering self-paced courses, a 33.2% form of e-learning Use LMS 14.7% Don’t use LMS, but plan to in next 12 months that can be greatly Don’t use LMS, and don’t plan to in next 12 months enhanced by use of Not sure 63!THE TECHNOLOGY PERSPECTIVE
  • 64. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 an LMS. Of these organizations, 65.4 percent report identify future leaders. We do want especially to either already using an LMS or planning to within identify people in the membership who have, in the the next 12 months. Organizations that offer past, taken certain assessments, so we could continuing education that specifically supports identify them as possible future volunteer leaders. earning a formal certification or license are also If there is a way that we can do that without a full- more likely (38.9 percent) to have implemented an on, yearlong, massively expensive LMS LMS than organizations that do not (26.4 percent). implementation, I’m all for it. Finally, organizations that charge for all (38.3 percent) or some (37.4 percent) of their e-learning While it has become significantly less costly and offerings are more likely to use an LMS than those time-consuming over the past several years to that report not charging (13.5 percent). implement an LMS, our sense is that a certain amount of trepidation about this particular type of Close to a third of the organizations we interviewed software has drifted over from the corporate e- were using a learning management system, and learning world. Many larger corporations have been most that were not seemed to have at least a basic through multiple LMS implementations at this knowledge of LMSes. Often an LMS was seen as point, and stories abound of six- and seven-figure something the organization aspired to implement budgets accompanied by technical headaches. Most but had deferred until it was clear the investment association education staff, already strapped for could be justified. One education director explained: resources, are not eager to take on this kind of challenge. [T]hat’s one of my personal goals, to be able to get into an LMS. That was actually my goal to do this Among the organizations we interviewed, those that year. Part of it is that it wasn’t in the budget, but had made the decision to pursue implementing an part of it as well is that I don’t think the LMS generally did so because they could see a clear organization is ready for that just yet. I think we benefit to being able to more efficiently track and need to do a little bit more with the Webinars and manage data related to e-learning. Over time—and gradually get them [our learners] to that point, in some cases a very short time—the administrative where they are ready to do the online learning. cost savings the system would make possible would more than compensate for the initial investment. In another case, implementation of an LMS was Particularly for organizations that offer continuing something to avoid, if possible. “I’m hoping that education, certificates, and other forms of credit there is a way that we can do it without a full LMS through their e-learning programs, a learning implementation because that just looks like a huge management system can greatly increase efficiency job,” said one interviewee. by automating processes or putting them in the hands of the end user. We do intend to capture the data, we do want to do some talent management stuff, and we want to “We do want especially to identify people in the membership who have, in the past, taken certain assessments, so we could identify them as possible future volunteer leaders. If there is a way that we can do that without a full-on, yearlong, massively expensive LMS implementation, I’m all for it.” 64!THE TECHNOLOGY PERSPECTIVE
  • 65. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 LMS AND LCMS PACKAGES While overall usage of learning management systems across the sector is still relatively low, we were able to collect enough data to give some insight into the specific platforms that associations seem to be using. Among our respondents, the open source platform Moodle proved popular. Among proprietary systems, the Intralearn LMS (whether offered through Intralearn itself or through its partner Certilearn) made the strongest showing—8.2 percent of respondents selected the Intralearn LMS, and an additional 1.2 percent selected LearningServer from Intralearn. GRAY AREAS Neither the Webinar platform nor the LMS categories fully capture all the options currently available for e-learning delivery in the association market. For example, a number of respondents indicated use of the iCohere platform, which is positioned as a tool for “creating collaborative learning communities.” The iCohere platform has some of the functionalities typically associated with a learning management system and Webinar capabilities but does not, in our opinion, fit neatly into either category. Additionally, some of the firms that specialize in capturing conference content and converting it into on-demand e-learning have systems that compare well, on some levels, with traditional LMSes, but are not marketed as products distinct from the firms’ services. It may be that some of these will be added to the LMS list in future surveys. Angel LMS 0% Avilar Web Mentor 1.2% Blackboard 5.9% Education Director 2.4% ForceTen 0% GeoExpress 2.4% GeoMaestro 1.2% Intralearn LMS (Certilearn) 3.5% Intralearn LMS (Intralern) 4.7% Isoph Blue 5.9% LearnCenter 1.2% LearningServer (Intralearn) 1.2% LearnPro Plus 1.2% LearningSpan 2.4% Moodle 8.2% Outstart Evolution 1.2% Plateau 0% Saba 1.2% Sakai 0% Of named LMSes and TopClass 3.5% LCMSes, Moodle came TotalLMS 4.7% out on top at 8. 2 percent. Custom or proprietary 5.9% Not sure 22.4% Other 25.9% 65!THE TECHNOLOGY PERSPECTIVE
  • 66. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 E-learning and AMSes At the heart of nearly every association is a membership database of some sort. In smaller 13.6% organizations, this may take the form of a simple Excel sheet or a Microsoft Access database. As organizations grow, they often adopt one of the more sophisticated association management systems (AMSes). Data related to educational programs and certification very often finds a home in these systems, thus creating a need for all or parts of data generated in other systems to 31.8% 54.5% eventually make its way back to the AMS. In our survey, we asked organizations using or planning to use e-learning to indicate whether they use an association management system, and if so, Does your organization currently use an which one. association management system (AMS)? The majority of associations surveyed do. Use an AMS Don’t use an AMS Not sure Aptify 6.7% Association Anywhere 2.2% ClearVantage 2.2% CRM for Members (ProTech) 0% iMIS 42.2% IRMembership 0% Members360 0% netFORUM 17.8% Office Manager 2.2% Personify (TMA Resources) 4.4% TIMSS (TMA Resources) 8.9% Wild Apricot 0% Of named AMSes, iMIS and netFORUM were used most frequently. Other 26.7% 66!THE TECHNOLOGY PERSPECTIVE
  • 67. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Among the organizations we interviewed, nearly all had some form of membership management software in place, and most had a process—whether manual or automated—for pulling data from their e-learning activities into the member database. In the case of Webinars, this most often took the form of manually exporting registration and attendance data from the Webinar system as an Excel workbook or delimited text file and importing it into the membership management system. Organizations that had implemented a learning management system were much more likely to have also implemented some form of automated integration. LMS/AMS INTEGRATION In our survey, we asked respondents who indicated that their organization used or planned to use both an LMS and an AMS system whether the two systems were integrated. Most either had already 28.9% integrated or planned to integrate the two systems. 46.7% Are your learning management systems (LMS) and your association management system (AMS) integrated? In other words, is log-in information, data about users, data about course activities, or other types 24.4% of data shared or will it be shared between the two systems? Some 46 percent of survey respondents indicated their association’s AMS and LMS are integrated. “Most people have that [integration] as an item on AMS and LMS integrated their short list that they need to talk about,” said No, but plan to integrate them in future No, and don’t plan to integrate them one of the providers with whom we spoke, “how this is going to communicate with their AMS.” “Id say that all of our e-learning clients have integrated with their AMSes,” another provider told us. As a general rule, integration between a learning management system and an association management system happens at three levels: • Single sign-on A user who is logged into the association’s AMS (usually perceived by the end user as being logged into the organization’s Web site) can navigate to the learning management system and access her courses or other content without having to log in again. This is the most fundamental level and is generally a prerequisite for other types of integration to occur. • E-commerce A user purchases a course using an e-commerce system that is provided as part of the AMS, or is already integrated with the AMS, and details of the purchase are automatically passed to the LMS. When the user next accesses the LMS, the system knows to present the newly purchased content to the user. • Learner activity data As a learner access courses and other materials in the LMS, the system accumulates a variety of data about the learner’s activities—for example, how much time she spends in a course, what her scores are on assessments, and whether she has completed a course. It is often useful for the AMS to know about some or all of this data—particularly data related to course completion and issuance of continuing education credit or certificates. 67!THE TECHNOLOGY PERSPECTIVE
  • 68. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 An important aspect of any type of integration that don’t agree with and acknowledge this point of between software systems is that there needs to be a view: clear understanding of which system’s database will be the authority, or database of record for the types I’ve [sometimes] forced the hand and told of data to be shared among systems. In general, you [prospective clients] that they need to look at their don’t want it to be possible to change data in AMS as being the center of their universe, and multiple places. If this happens, member records some people will agree, but some will say that they can get out of synch and create a mess that is hadn’t really thought of it that way. That’s one of difficult—sometimes impossible—to clean up. In the fundamental pieces of the decision making nearly all cases, it makes most sense for the process, but, again, I want to hear the potential association management system to serve as the association that we’ll be working with say back to database of record for everything other than data me that the AMS needs to be the center of the that is generated by the learner’s activity in the LMS universe because we want to be a part of a system. business solution...and the core is that the AMS has to be the center of the universe, or they are One of the providers we spoke to was very insistent going to end up creating a scenario for themselves that “the AMS needs to be the center of the that doesn’t allow them to continue to grow. universe; it has to be the center of everything membership. So whatever they [associations] are E-learning Guidelines and Standards using to have people sign up and go to their Knowledge of and adherence to common e-learning conferences needs to talk to the AMS. And whatever guidelines and standards in the sector appears to be they are using for e-commerce needs to be part of quite low. Adherence to the Shareable Content the AMS or talk to the AMS. And the learning Object Reference Model (SCORM) was considered management system component needs to talk to the very important or absolutely necessary by only 27 AMS.” percent of respondents currently using e-learning. Adherence to Section 508 guidelines for users with From this provider’s perspective, the ultimate disabilities was selected as very important or success of a learning management system as part of absolutely necessary by only 17.3 percent of an organization’s strategy depends heavily on how respondents in this group. it interfaces with the AMS—so much so that his company is reluctant to work with organizations Medbiquitous standards, which apply primarily to healthcare education, faired better than the more 70.2% AICC (Airline Industry 2.3% 3.3% CBT Committee) 1.9% 22.3% 65.1% IMS Global 6.1% 3.3% Learning Consortium 0.5% 25.0% 67.3% 3.3% 1.4% How important is Medbiquitous 0.9% adherence to 27.0% guidelines from each of the 45.0% following sources SCORM (Shareable Content 7.8% for your e-learning 11.9% Object Reference Model) 15.1% initiatives? 20.2% 51.2% Not at all important Section 508 (Section 5.6% Slightly important 11.7% Very important 508 of the Rehabilitation Act) 5.6% Absolutely necessary 25.8% Don’t know 68!THE TECHNOLOGY PERSPECTIVE
  • 69. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 KEY E-LEARNING STANDARDS IN BRIEF The Airline Industry CBT Committee, more commonly known as AICC, was one of the first groups to establish standards for how computer-based training (CBT) should communicate with computer-managed instructions systems (CMI) designed to track training activities. First established in 1993, the AICC CMI Guidelines for Interoperability (http://www.aicc.org/pages/ down-docs-index.htm) form the basis for much of the subsequent work that has been done to ensure that an e-learning course created for use in one learning management system will also function properly in other systems. A central focus of the IMS Global Learning Consortium is how learning content can be tagged so that it can easily be discovered and reused, whether in a single system or across multiple, disparate systems. The various IMS specifications (http://www.imsglobal.org/specifications.html) are at the root of terms like reusable learning object as well as the most current approaches to interoperability. It should be noted that IMS standards are based on the extensible markup language, or XML, specification created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). XML is the language used for tagging learning content objects. The Shareable Content Object Reference Model, or SCORM, is perhaps the most widely recognized set of standards in the e-learning world. It unites standards from AICC, IMS, W3C, and other sources to create a general model for defining, packaging, and managing learning objects. An LMS that is SCORM-compliant should provide the ability to import, launch, and track a lesson or course that has been developed according to the SCORM model. Additionally, an LCMS, or an LMS that features content management capabilities, should be able to recognize and manipulate the shareable content objects, or SCOs, which comprise a piece of learning content. Medbiquitous (www.medbiq.org) is an organization focused on leveraging XML to establish a set of interoperable standards exchanging educational content and tracking learner activities and profiles as part of healthcare education and competence assessment. We included Medbiquitous as part of the survey based on our knowledge that many healthcare associations are already active in e-learning. Section 508 (http://www.section508.gov) refers the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and subsequent amendments designed to address the accessibility of electronic and information technologies, including the Web, by people with disabilities. Federal agencies are required—with some limited exceptions—to meet standards defined under Section 508 when purchasing electronic and information technologies, which means that any entity hoping to sell to the federal government must ensure that its products comply to the standards. Requirements aside, many developers and consumers of e-learning feel that compliance with Section 508 is simply the right thing to do. For additional information on Section 508 as it relates to e-learning, see http://www.access- board.gov/sec508/e-learning.htm. 69!THE TECHNOLOGY PERSPECTIVE
  • 70. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 general standards. They were selected as either very important (33.3 percent) or absolutely necessary (11.1 percent) by groups that identified themselves as serving physicians. Among respondents planning e-learning initiatives in the coming 12 months, “don’t know” received the majority of responses for every selection other than the Airline Industry CBT Committee (AICC) standard, which was marked as “not important at all” by 52.2 percent of respondents, which may be a factor of respondents assuming the airline in the acronym makes the standard irrelevant for other industries when in fact AICC is broadly applicable and one of the progenitors of SCORM. The generally low importance or lack of knowledge of standards is most likely a byproduct of relatively low adoption of LMS systems, which tend to be at the center of e-learning standards, as well as a tendency in the sector not to use professionally trained designers and developers, a group which tends to follow standards in creating e-learning. Not surprisingly, organizations offering self-paced online courses—a group more likely to have a LMS and use professional instructional designers—were significantly more likely to indicate that SCORM was very important or absolutely necessary (40.2 percent). Social Media and E-learning A report issued by Principled Innovation in January 2009 states, “While association executives’ awareness of social media is high, it is not widely adopted.” The same statement applies to association e-learning initiatives. Social media seems to be attracting some interest in the association e-learning community, but with a lot of room for growth. The dominant social tool in both current (32.7 percent) and planned (45.0 percent) e-learning initiatives is discussion forums. The next most popular tool for both current (25.4 percent) and planned (28.4 percent) programs are podcasts. Discussion boards, while clearly social in nature, are identified with the “old” Web by many, and much podcast usage is arguably broadcast rather than collaborative in nature—and thus not terribly social. With respect to blogs, social networks, and wikis—arguably the tools that most people most closely associate with the social Web—adoption rates by current programs are relatively low. The chart below shows the adoptions level for these tools across the broader association sector, according to the January 2009 Principled Innovation report, and the adoption levels specifically for e-learning, as indicated by our survey. 31.0% Sector-wide For e-learning 25.0% 24.0% 16.5% 14.0% Use of social networks, 10.1% blogs, and wikis by associations. Social networking Blogs Wikis 70!THE TECHNOLOGY PERSPECTIVE
  • 71. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Simple Satisfies Association of Cable Communicators Chats You dont have to use cutting-edge “The chats are more popular than the technology to deliver valuable online Webinars, which was surprising.” content to your constituents. Simple, Michelle Butler, associate executive director affordable solutions can satisfy associations and their members. Every other month, the Association of Cable Communicators (ACC), a three-staff association whose members work in communications, public relations, community relations, and government relations in the cable industry, hosts very successful hour- long online chats using the inexpensive ParaChat software. “The way that we modeled the online chats were almost like panels,” explained Michelle Butler, associate executive director at ACC, “so I line up three to four experts to market as being a part of this particular topic.” The panelists start the chats by introducing the topic at hand and then invite questions from the participants. Butler reported that the whole event is very interactive: “It’s getting to the point now where other members will share their experiences on the particular topic as well.” To prepare for the chats, Butler develops a short list of questions to send to the panelists. They prepare responses in advance and have that text to draw on during the chat. Butler, as moderator, chimes in with questions to keep the conversation going if it lags. ACC then posts the cleaned-up transcripts from the chats in its online education portal. These free chats are marketed to the members, but technically anyone can join— Butler views these sessions as a way to recruit new members and increase the stickiness of the ACC membership. The chats are proving even more popular than ACC’s Webinars. “The chats are in the 30 to 40 range [for attendees], sometimes a little big higher,” Butler reported, “and the Webinars are more in the 20 to 30 range.” Whatever the exact numbers, members find both the online chats and the Webinars valuable benefits. Michelle Butler, associate executive director of the Association of Cable Communicators, and a screen shot of one of ACC’s popular online chats 71!CASE STUDY
  • 72. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS Out of the respondents that currently offer some Among the range of social media tools† currently form of social media in their e-learning initiatives, used in association e-learning initiatives, social 71 percent indicated that they either review networks (25 percent, combining public and comments before they are published or actively private) lead the pack, followed by blogs (16.5 monitor for inappropriate content. percent) and wikis (10.1 percent). All three tools— but particularly social networks (32.1 percent) and Overall, it was clear in our interviews with both blogs (25.7 percent)—show stronger interest among associations and providers that there is a great deal respondents planning to implement e-learning. of interest in social media as well as a general desire to figure out what it might mean for the future of e- In addition to asking about use of specific types of learning programs. As might be expected, some are social media tools, we also asked survey already in the process of making plans and taking participants for any additional information they tentative steps. Others are more reluctant to add a were willing to provide about how they monitor new element to their fledgling e-learning initiatives, social media usage by learners—for example, how and providers, in particular, are wrestling with how comments are handled and whether they have social media fits into their business models. What formal rules of engagement for their participants. follows are a variety of quotes from individuals interviewed. We feel that these, better than any †For individuals seeking a primer on social media tools and how they can be used in e-learning, we recommend our free e-book, Learning 2.0 for Associations, available at http://www.tagoras.com/catalog/association-learning20.html. Blog 16.5% 25.7% Discussion forums 32.7% 45.0% Microblogging tools 2.4% 4.6% Photosharing sites 2.4% 5.5% Podcasts 25.0% Which of the 28.4% following social media tools does 16.1% your organization Private social networking site 22.9% currently use or plan to use as part of Public social networking site 8.9% your online learning 9.2% offerings? (Please only indicate tools that are or will be Slidesharing sites 2.0% 1.8% explicitly a part of your e-learning initiatives. For Social bookmarking tools 0% 1.8% example, if your organization has or plans to have a wiki, Virtual worlds 1.2% but does not use it 3.7% or plan to use it as part of its e-learning Web video sites 7.3% offerings, do not 9.2% select that item.) Social networks (25 10.1% percent, combining Wiki 11.9% public and private) lead the pack. Don’t use social media tools 47.6% 8.3% Current e-learning Not sure 0% 46.8% Planned e-learning Other 6.9% 2.8% 72!THE TECHNOLOGY PERSPECTIVE
  • 73. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 analysis we can offer, help to paint a picture of how conferences a year, and we go through the social media currently fits into association e- annual process of trying to build up interest. learning. They get really engaged during the conference, and about a month later it dwindles off and ASSOCIATIONS SPEAK ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA you have to start the process over again.” • “I think our industry is not a Facebook-type • “We’ve got a new social network site...a Ning industry. One of the interesting things—a lot of site...that was unveiled a couple of months ago. industries are probably this way, but I think We’ve got about 90 members so far. These past [our] industry is especially this way—it’s a lot two Webinars and teleconferences we have of family-owned businesses. It’s a lot of people talked about that and tried to lead people to that do this for life. So you get to a conference, continue the discussion online. It’s a little bit of and 70 percent of the people there you’ve seen a challenge, and we have hired a social media every year for 20 years. So something like guy to help us better promote the activity. Facebook or Ning...they are helpful, but that’s We’re now going to focus on a couple of special just something on top of what interest groups that are basically you do anyway. I think the younger and more familiar with that. challenge for us in that is trying “I think our industry So we’re going to focus on them and to figure out how the electronic is not a Facebook- get them going and get them into applications fit into something type industry.” some discussions and have them do that they are already doing. regular postings and always have Some of them have said that if something of interest on there. And they need to talk to Joe, then then hopefully it will expand to the they will just e-mail or call Joe. other types of members that we Why do they need anything have. But we definitely are cross- else?” promoting it all the time.” • “Across the board within our organization • “So the plan was...publish it [a handbook for we’re looking at social media. Right now we members] as a wiki and see if people changed are working on a new Web site redesign that it enough that we would want to then publish will hopefully incorporate many different it again with all their changes. So there was an levels of social media. We are certainly looking incredible amount of enthusiasm for the idea at wikis. We’ve used wikis a couple of times but when it came to figuring out how to pay for just within our own department with it and actually finding the time to do it, it volunteers. That was received with mixed started to slow down a lot. So much so at this reviews. For us, it’s making sure that we’re point that I’m not quite sure what’s going to providing a network of communication for our happen with it, if it’s going to get pursued or members, something that is going to be easy not.” for us to manage but giving members • “The very first level thing that we are doing, additional channels to communicate with each which is kind of basic, is we’ve created a Ning other and hopefully with experts that are either community for registered users of our courses on staff or previous volunteer faculty. So that is to continue to network and learn through a certainly something that we are looking at, user community, and we’re scheduling live seeing what’s out there and what other chats with SMEs who’ve helped us in the organizations are doing.” development of the courses, utilizing that to • “We’re thinking of podcasts because with get people’s feedback about courses. Now I say Webinars a lot of the people we target are on all that—that’s our goal. It’s built, but we the go. They’re not at their desks, so we are haven’t actually hit the send button to invite thinking of maybe podcasting smaller, 10- anyone yet. I don’t know why we haven’t done minute blurbs that they can do on demand, it yet. I think we are tweaking some things, but which would fit their schedules better. I’d like that’s the goal.” to start a blog because we have three 73!THE TECHNOLOGY PERSPECTIVE
  • 74. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 • “We just acquired and installed some social • “E-learning and...communities, the edges are networking software. The initial thrust of its fuzzing on all of that, and they all can be used purpose is to promote collegiality between to build on one another. If you have a members, try to nurture the neighborhood so community of practice, you want to provide to speak. We haven’t really done anything with learning from it so you can offer Webinars and it from an education standpoint just yet.” courses. Or if you have Webinars and courses, • “E-learning has become a renegade. We’re tired you can take those and ratchet them up one of asking, ‘Please, please can we go out to level and start creating ongoing learning LinkedIn? Can we go to YouTube?’ We’re just communities. So it’s a fluid area that I think is going to do it. We already have two groups...set going to move toward an undifferentiated up in LinkedIn. We’re going to go out to arena where it’s always available learning in YouTube with a video.... So, we’re going to beg both structured and unstructured modes.” forgiveness if and when that happens, but we • “Online content seems to be headed in two feel we need a presence there, and we’re opposite directions. One of those directions is starting to put a presence there.” towards doing more with really immersive learning experiences. People recognize that in PROVIDERS SPEAK ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA many cases that’s the • “Associations are still just having a hard time best and most efficient getting their hands around the whole idea. The way of training people— “I’m trying to biggest challenge to online education in any figure out highly engaging learning what’s the form is, ‘How can I pay for this? How can I experiences, highly social media make money off of it?’ And people just don’t motivated learning that has real see how social media is going to make them experiences. On the value to a any money. That’s the big one right now, and I other end of the professional think especially in this economy. I think what spectrum, particularly as development they need to do is step back and think about we become more program.” what it’s really about. It’s really about comfortable with providing services and opportunities to your different types of social members that will eventually, down the line, media, people are turn into higher retention and higher loyalty to looking for quick ways the association, potentially bigger sales in of getting information different areas.” out—through wikis, • “I’m one of the people wandering around through quick and dirty Web video. I think that Rome just looking at all the monuments just there is a huge trend in that direction. So wondering where I should go. I’m trying to there’s kind of the fast and cheap direction— figure out what’s the social media that has real and for a lot of things that’s exactly how you value to a professional development program. should approach training—and then there’s How do you use blogs? Not only how do you also the really rich direction. A lot of very use them, but how do I wrap it up and package middle ground kind of informational, it?” interactive PowerPoint type e-learning—I dont • “I would say over the next year we’re not see people asking for that nearly as much.” expecting much to happen with social media • “I don’t see [social media] as a logical extension because of the economy. People are going to for the LMS. If the AMS is the center of the focus on the basics. And if they don’t already universe, and your AMS is surrounded by your have those things, if they’re not already part of intranet, you can have a fairly sophisticated their mainstream, then they are going to stick social media type component that’s plugged to basics. I think we are going to see a year of into your AMS, and you can have the LMS stagnant growth in those areas, at least in the plugged into your AMS. I think that’s a better association world.” model than asking an LMS vendor to also be an expert at the latest, greatest social media.” 74!THE TECHNOLOGY PERSPECTIVE
  • 75. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Don’t expect social media for e-learning purposes to take off in the short term—but do expect to see serious experimentation with wikis, blogs, photo-sharing sites, and blogs as extensions of place-based conferences. Summary experimentation will occur. In particular, the blending of tools like wikis, blogs, photo-sharing Technology platforms for e-learning were the focus sites (e.g., Flickr), and microblogs (e.g., Twitter) of this chapter. We examined concerns about end with conference-based education is likely to gain user technology skills, looked at the role that ground. A smaller set of more innovative learning management systems play in association e- organizations will fully embrace the possibilities of learning initiatives, and discussed how new social social media in an effort to transform their Web sites media technologies factor into e-learning efforts in into high-value learning communities for members. the sector. We’ll conclude this section with some trends and Questions to Consider opportunities we see and questions to ask of your 1.If you already have an e-learning program or organization as you begin to plan or continue to are planning one, how formal an approach do purse an e-learning program. you have for supporting end users? Have you developed frequently asked questions (FAQs) Trends and Predictions that are readily available to end users? Is there While our survey data suggests lingering concern a clear process for channeling end user issues about end user technology skills, we expect that and escalating them until they are resolved? this concern will continue to decline and perhaps 2.How much weight have you placed on even drop sharply in the relatively near term. End user comfort with the types of technology used for developing your e-learning offerings according e-learning is increasing, but our interviews suggest to industry standards? Does your organization that organizations are increasingly prepared to have a clear understanding of the pros and address the points of discomfort that that remain. cons of adhering (or not adhering) to major standards like SCORM and Section 508 As on-demand content becomes increasingly 3.How might social media tools enhance the common and associations realize the operational value of your e-learning offerings? Are there efficiencies that learning management systems can potentially new pricing models or entirely new offer, we expect to see more widespread implementation LMSes. business models that social media could make possible? While we do not expect to see widespread adoption of social media for e-learning purposes in the coming year, a significant amount of 75!THE TECHNOLOGY PERSPECTIVE
  • 76. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 LMS SELECTION courses with a tool that creates SCORM content If your organization is considering implementing an and then import this content into the LMS, you LMS, review these recommendations and questions. can be reasonably certain that it will “play” correctly in the system, and(b) the ability to 4.Has the LMS been implemented before at an export any content you create in your system in association? How many times? What were the a SCORM-conformant way. This matters issues, and how were they addressed? greatly if someday you want to change LMSes Association needs with respect to issues like and take your content over to a new system. handling e-commerce, credit, brandability, and 8.Has the system ever been integrated with an integrating with membership management association management system or, if systems are different from those of corporate or applicable, other types of enterprise software academic LMS users. All else being equal, it your organization uses)? With your specific pays to go with a system that has already been system? How is integration achieved, how successfully implemented at one or more much does it typically cost, and what are the associations. issues that typically arise? What levels of 5.Don’t get bogged down in feature lists and integration are available—i.e., single sign-on bells and whistles. Make sure you have between the two systems, e-commerce thought through and reached internal integration, passing course completion and agreement around the overall user experience credit data from the LMS to the AMS? Even if you are trying to deliver. Literally map it out you don’t plan to integrate your AMS and LMS on paper, and then ask vendors to describe and initially, you should select a system that demonstrate clearly how their LMS supports provides well for this capability down the road. that experience. And don’t hesitate to ask how 9.How are course completion, credit, and they would improve on the experience—a good presentation of transcripts and certificates vendor should be a valuable partner in this handled in the system? One of the biggest process. benefits an LMS can offer is to make 6.Make sure you understand how content gets administration of continuing education easier imported into the system and, if applicable, for your organization and the end user. If how content can be authored in the system. Are continuing education or certificates are or will these easy, intuitive processes, or is there a be part of your online program, dig into this steep learning curve? Be sure to spend time aspect of the system in great detail. going through the steps in detail. 10.What are the available financial models? Is 7.Is the system SCORM-conformant? The there any flexibility around charging based on Shareable Content Object Reference Model is your actual use of the system? Is it possible to the main set of standards that apply to learning pay on a per-enrollment basis? Do fees cap out management systems. It is not perfect or at some point, or do they always continue to uniformly implemented, but it is nonetheless grow as more users enroll in courses? important to know about and adhere to. The 11.How brandable is the end user environment? main questions it addresses are (a) the ability to Can the LMS environment easily be made to launch and track SCORM-conformant content look and feel just like, or at least very similar in your system, so, if you or a vendor author to, your overall Web site environment? 76!THE TECHNOLOGY PERSPECTIVE
  • 77. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 The State of the Sector An Assessment Even given the level of statistical error that may be Our view is that we are still in the relatively early present in a non-probability survey, the evidence stages of e-learning growth in the sector. In terms of the online survey offers, along with input from the bell curve often used to illustrate technology interviews and our own experience make it quite adoption life cycles, we would place e-learning in clear that e-learning has established a strong the lower third of the early majority phase. foothold in the sector. At this point, while many organizations have Common sense provides additional evidence to implemented some form of e-learning—and, suggest e-learning will grow substantially over particularly live Webinars—most have done so in a time. Our global economy—a flat economy, as relatively piecemeal fashion. General strategy Thomas Friedman has put it—already provides an development for e-learning as well as approaches to environment in which the rapid acquisition of new particular aspects of strategy, like product knowledge and skills has become mandatory for development and pricing, have not yet become part many workers and organizations. On top of this, the of standard operating practice at most current recession will force organizations to organizations. E-learning does not represent a consider more educational alternatives that do not substantial portion of the revenue mix at most involve travel and the growth of green thinking will associations, and few seem to view it as part of strengthen and sustain this trend. strategic goals like risk management or as a tool for streamlining operational areas like the A growing array of cheap and easy technologies administration of continuing education. will continue to put sophisticated e-learning development and delivery options in the hands of In short, e-learning has arrived, but remains even the smallest organizations. And last, but immature. As we see it, there is now a clear certainly not least, the coming of age of a generation opportunity for e-learning to transition into more that is comfortable doing almost everything online significant, more strategic part of the mix of services will generate more demand and tear down associations provide to members. We feel all the remaining barriers. factors above will lead more associations to embrace this opportunity—and more vendors to enter or That is the future—and it is coming fast, in our expand their presence in the market. Another estimation. But where do things stand at present? Association E-learning This image is reproduced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:DiffusionOfInnovation.png under a Creative Commons license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5. 77!THE STATE OF THE SECTOR
  • 78. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 important factor will be the increasing pressure MORE INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN many associations are feeling to clearly demonstrate Interest in instructional design will rise. The their value to members and potential members. The maturing of e-learning will lead to a higher level of current economy has contributed to this pressure, professionalism around the development of online but, more importantly, advances on the Web have learning experiences. Organizations will make more changed the strategic playing field for associations. effort to implement sound instructional design With it now dramatically easier for groups to self- practices for e-learning in-house and use of contract organize, communicate, and share knowledge, e- instructional designers is also likely to learning becomes one of the tools rise. through which associations can differentiate and establish value. It is dramatically A LITTLE MORE SOCIAL MEDIA easier for groups to Integration of social media into e- As e-learning begins to mature in the self-organize, learning will occur at a relatively sector, we expect to see a number of communicate, and share knowledge slow rate. Unlike courses or related developments—most already Webinars, most social media is noted in various parts of this today than ever before. relatively difficult to monetize on a document: standalone basis. Until organizations development strategies and business MORE LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS models for products that integrate Implementation of learning social media with more traditional management systems and content (what we call learning 2.0), integration of these with association social media for educational management system will rise. Given purposes will remain in the realm of the current economy, growth in this experimentation and one-off area will be limited in the coming projects. year, but to realize the full value of MORE COMPETITION offering e-learning, most Competition will increase and will organizations will benefit from more be a significant factor in driving sophisticated abilities to manage higher levels of marketing learning in a centralized location, to sophistication for online learning track e-learning activity, and to feed products. As noted in the chapter data back into their membership “The Business Perspective,” the fact management system. that high-quality e-learning can now MORE ON-DEMAND CONTENT be produced relatively easily and at Publishing of on-demand content low cost will mean that enterprising will rise, driven by a number of individuals and organizations will factors. A significant factor is that it begin entering into or expanding in has become increasingly easy to all markets where the sale of mine content from live, place-based educational products represents a events and make it available online. Organizations viable business. This trend will can do this on their own or work with a growing impact some associations more than others, but all number of companies that provide this service. Live associations will benefit by developing more events aside, production of on-demand content has sophisticated approaches to search marketing and simply become much easier, and as a result of other forms of online promotion. services like YouTube, members are more and more PROFESSIONAL NETWORK? accustomed to the idea of accessing rich content whenever and wherever they feel like it. A further development that we hope to see over the coming one to two years is the emergence of a more 78!THE STATE OF THE SECTOR
  • 79. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 cohesive professional network for e-learning in the organizations have fully made the leap and sector. This sort of network has long-since emerged said, ‘Let’s go for it. Let’s just dig into the in the corporate and academic sectors, but as many online resources.’” of our interviewees attested, there is no clear place • “I’d say there’s probably some percentage [of for association e-learning professionals to turn for associations] that do it [e-learning] knowledge, support, and peer networking. This exceptionally well and are going to continue to report and all the interactions that helped produce it do it exceptionally well. That’s probably a are, we hope, one step in that direction, but as with fairly small percentage in my view. I think the nearly all aspects of e-learning in the association vast majority, in my view, are folks that have sector, there is still much work to be done. done it in a scattershot manner and have mixed and matched things to try things out. I think at Voices from the Sector this point, the ones of that group that are good strategists and good thinkers are going to make While we certainly have our views, it seems most this into a long-term online asset. Those that I appropriate to end this report with comments from think have gone through change are not our interviewees. We asked all of our interviewees necessarily going through the same critical to tell us how they view current state of e-learning thinking, are going to continue to take this on in the association sector. Here is some of what they in a scattershot manner.” told us. • “We’re finding that many [associations that] E-LEARNING PROVIDERS ON THE STATE OF have come to us have already had their initial THE SECTOR experience, and now they want to get more • “I’d like to find out what it is sophisticated in what they are that is holding [associations] doing.... I would say that it [e- back. Because it’s been 10 years learning in the association space] since I went to [a conference is definitely maturing, that “I don’t think we are session on association e- anywhere near maturity people have had their initial learning] down in Orlando and when it comes to e-learning, mini-event, their initial at that time we thought we’d especially in the association experiences. Now they want to better move on this quickly— space.” provide a more positive the corporate world is taking experience; they are getting advantage of this, associations more particular in the kind of are traditionally a couple of content and how it’s presented.” years behind, so we had better move on this • I don’t think they [associations] are doing all quickly. And we’re still waiting.” they could with it [e-learning]. I think that most • “I don’t think we are anywhere near maturity of them are pretty much stuck either in the when it comes to e-learning, especially in the 24/7 mode or just getting into the Webinars but association space. I think we are at a real base not getting into them along with an LMS. A lot camp level where there has certainly been a of them do Webinars, and they sell the heck of a lot of effort and content that’s just Webinars through their own Web site, but they been thrown up against the wall online, just don’t have an LMS platform where they are doing stuff online without really having an really gathering the information and tracking idea to the effect or whether or not it’s the best and recording things.... They are kind of way to deliver their resources. So it’s kind of scattered, some of them, even some of the very like association have got one foot still in their large ones. And especially now with the new old ways of doing things, but they’ve got one things, podcasting and different things, they toe in the online space. Some may have actually are even more scattered than they were before, put a whole foot in the online space, but I don’t and they really need to look at coming together think anybody has really made the leap. I and putting it in one place.” shouldn’t say anybody—of course somebody • “We were surprised that a lot of associations has—but I don’t think the majority of have not yet started using Webinars. We were 79!THE STATE OF THE SECTOR
  • 80. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 really just blown away by that. Those who are succeed wildly, to make the sorts of strategic using them seem to keep doing them and like alliances and partnerships they need, to protect them. I think it’s the wave of the future. I think their intellectual property as subject matter we are going to see it more portable. I think we experts, authors, and publishers, putting them are going to see it more on PDAs and iPhones at risk of being rendered irrelevant or at the and that sort of thing. I think we are going to service of emerging parties who do. They’re see more asynchronous events.” unaware of many emerging competition, • Even within the corporate training space where threats, and trends. Most associations are people have been doing forms of e-learning for running blind in these regards, from a strategic 20 years almost, I think that there’s still so standpoint. They’re missing out left and right much potential for technology-based training. on business opportunities and opportunities to It’s certainly the direction that people are make the difference in the world they’re out to going.... I don’t see that changing. As long as make, and quickly losing certain competitive we can actually create learning experiences that edges on which they’ve been able to rely as rival or beat what people can get in a classroom more-or-less a given.” then I think that there’s going to be a lot of • “It’s a blossoming field. Booming might be opportunities.” overstating it, but it’s growing, and people who • It’s an uneducated audience in understanding are doing it are looking at how they can grow how to leverage a learning management it, and people who aren’t doing it are feeling system properly and do different things. like they are left behind. So I think it’s a very Associations have [an LMS] for one thing, but exciting time to be in this industry, to be where they don’t realize that it can do all these other we are. We’re just very excited about where we things.” are.” • “Many associations are doing the e-learning • “What’s clear is that there is a huge increase in equivalent of building their own Barnes & interest. That there’s no question about. In the Noble and then selling only their own books in last three years there has been a big, big surge it. Others are creating all sorts of e-learning in people contacting us, in our client base, so product, without sufficiently informed there is definitely a momentum growing where business, technology, marketing, or staffing this is something that people are now taking plans to capitalize fully on their investments. for granted that this is needed and the way in They don’t know how to leverage e-learning to which learning is delivered.... Part of what obtain the sort of distribution they need to excites me about it is that there is no end in sight; we are not graying and maturing; there’s energy and growth in this whole domain.” “Many associations are doing the e-learning equivalent of building their own Barnes & Noble and then selling only their own books in it.” 80!THE STATE OF THE SECTOR
  • 81. • “It kind of depends on what we are comparing it [association e-learning] against. I would say it’s pretty much on par with probably where higher education is, but definitely behind where corporate e-learning is. In some ways. I think that corporate e-learning is behind associations in some ways too. I definitely think that there is more that associations could be doing that they are not, primarily because they are either not aware of certain options that exist and/or they have certain preconceptions about those options that they haven’t overcome yet, for whatever reason. Maybe there is a perception that there are more costs involved then there are or that there are more headaches involved then there are or for whatever reason it may be.” “I think e-learning is a scary concept, and I • “I look around—we have some competing think associations are a little risk-averse, so organizations—and I guess my initial thinking they keep going back to the same well is I don’t know why associations wouldn’t offer without considering the possibility of a low- e-learning. If you are at the point where you level investment to put their toe in the water are deciding, ‘Should we have e-learning?’ of e-learning.” you’re not even in the game. And when I say the game I’m not talking about the e-learning game, you’re not even in the association game. ASSOCIATIONS ON THE STATE OF THE SECTOR In my mind, most organizations, if they have some kind of training objective, a learning • “I will start by saying that I think that e- objective, if they see themselves as providing learning, it’s become such a huge world, it training for their constituents, their audiences, encompasses so much that I think we sort of at least their consumers if nothing else, and feel lost at times in this huge area called e- they don’t have e-learning then they are way learning that we are in the process of entering. I behind. If I think that has been a challenge. There is a lot started working out there that is called e-learning.... I don’t “I think it [the state of e- with a group like think that we are at a place yet that when I or learning] really depends that tomorrow I [my colleague] says e-learning and our bosses on the association.” would instantly say e-learning we necessarily mean the same start figuring out thing—we are still going through that process how we would of narrowing down what it means to us.” do it.” • “My sense is that [associations] are embracing it [e-learning]. People are looking—much like • “I believe that most organizations are doing more things that might broadly be called e- us—for opportunities to do this, but I think it’s learning, and I think that’s bound to only still very much in its infancy for the majority of increase in the future. Are we taking full associations. I know that some are doing it and advantage of it? I don’t think so. I think a lot of have it mastered and are probably making lots our e-learning programming is taking an old- of great money and have a solid infrastructure. fashioned lecture and storing it on the Web. My sense is that’s still the minority.... I think a We do that a lot, so I’m not saying that we’re lot of people feel like they are in the same boat, better, but I’m saying that that’s not the fullest, where they just don’t know where to turn, best use of the e-learning channel in my where to start, who’s a good vendor to go to, or opinion.” this or that.”81!THE STATE OF THE SECTOR
  • 82. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 • “I think e-learning is a scary concept, and I think associations are a little risk-averse so they “I think a big difference exists keep going back to the same well without between trade associations whose members are companies and other considering the possibility of a low-level associations whose members are investment to put your toe in the water of e- individuals.” learning. I think the big boys in associations are doing e-learning. All the top 25 I’m sure are doing it. The top 50, they are all doing e- learning, and they are doing something really robust. I think everybody thinks that their e- learning program has to be like that, and I think e-learning can be customized for your audience based off your budget and your resources. I think if more associations knew that, then they would be willing to take a chance, and I don’t think they know that.” • “I have a lot of friends in the association world. I just went to the annual holiday trade show and conference in December, and I got the feeling that everyone there was doing more of have people who are, I think, maybe a little bit it [e-learning], and they value it highly. So I ahead in their online interests—the video, the think it’s only going to increase. It’s on Web 2.0 stuff, that kind of stuff. There are really everyone’s radar. If they’re not doing it, they strong arguments for cost savings too. It’s not are getting ready to do it, and if they are doing the same as a classroom experience, but when it, they are liking the results.” you are a national association, it’s really hard to • “There is a heavy learning curve to it [e- make those classroom experiences, regional learning], obviously, and there’s the technical meetings work beyond the once-a-year side. So I do think some people are intimated conference. At least in my experience it is. So, I by that side quite a bit. But I do think it is being think that people are really enthused by it.” embraced now. Within [our industry] the • “I think that [our members], by virtue of nature of our product is a little technical so we initially their own training and then subsequently their own independence as they mature into their positions, have not been “[E-learning is] on everyone’s radar. willing to change their habits. It’s a given that If they’re not doing it, they are continuing education is essential to a getting ready to do it, and if they are [member’s] success, and given that he or she doing it, they are liking the results.” therefore will be pursuing some form of continuing education, one would think that the sheer convenience of being able to access that education online or via some electronic method that allows them to participate, to learn, broaden and sharpen their knowledge, from the convenience of their home, driving to work or so forth, that they would be very supportive of that. Our [members], many of them, still like tapes. Those that have advanced to a CD player in their cars—that was their big step up.” • “I think a big difference exists between trade associations whose members are companies and other associations whose members are 82!THE STATE OF THE SECTOR
  • 83. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 individuals. I think the individuals look for • “I think [associations] are “I think if we that opportunity for continuing growth on a kind of in the middle of it; don’t position personal level, but when it comes to the we’re in a learning curve.... ourselves and management level of a company and industry I keep telling the others start making information, [e-learning is] not where they go. that they’ve got to do this, our audience, It’s not where they think to look for their the generation that is our members, information. It’s a strange gap between your coming is not going to go aware of this [e- learning], personal growth and your company to seminars, they are not they’re going to improvements.” going to be gone from their go somewhere • “I think it [the state of e-learning] really families for two or three else.” depends on the association. I think so many days to go learning while associations are more developed than others. I their children are doing think we are really on the new side of it. I think other things.... And they are much more a lot of them are light years ahead of us. knowledgeable, they have grown up with this Although I’ll talk to some, and they’re not technology. If associations cannot use it and having the success that we’re having on the cannot grow it, then they will die because these Webinars. So I think it just really depends on people can go to the Internet and get what they the organization and where they’ve been and need; they will find a way, and if you won’t where they are planning to go.” help them, then they can easily find another • “I think if we don’t position ourselves and start way. But associations are going to have to grow making our audience, our members, aware of and develop in this area or they are not going this [e-learning], they’re going to go to survive. I totally believe that.” somewhere else. I think there’s a market out • I think it’s much easier to do it [e-learning]. I there. We just don’t know how to tap into it or remember the first time I did one of these do it effectively.” things and on the chat on the bottom [of the • “I think there’s a ton [of e-learning] out there. I screen] all the people were saying that they think there’s tremendous resources out there. couldn’t get connected. Things like that. The I’m concerned that a lot of people in the original problems that everyone had with association industry aren’t aware of those.” technology, those are basically all gone, so that • “I don’t know that much about other is a big deal. The costs have come down a lot so associations. I certainly know a lot of them do you can do these things without having to it [e-learning]. I don’t really spend a lot of money and therefore you can follow association activity provide the service to your members. So I think closely enough to know which more membership organizations are embracing groups are doing it really well, it. I also think that more members are but I certainly hear about a lot embracing it because it’s not so hard—you just of people doing it. I sort of feel click on something, and you go forward.” like we are ahead of the curve a little bit.” 83!THE STATE OF THE SECTOR
  • 84. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Appendix A: Participating Organizations With Thanks and Gratitude We are grateful to the hundreds of organizations Technology and Service Providers that took the time to participate in the 2008 • BlueStreak Learning Association Sector E-learning Survey. And we are • Boston Conferencing particularly grateful to representatives from the • Certilearn following organizations for making the time either • CommPartners to review survey questions, participate in face-to- • Enspire Learning face or phone interviews, or provide input by e-mail • iCohere —and, in some cases, all three. • Impact Media Solutions • KRM Associations • LearnSomething • America’s Health Insurance Plans • Results Direct • American Academy of Physical Medicine and • StreamCenter Rehabilitation • Type A Learning Agency • American College of Emergency Physicians • American Health Information Management Association • American Institute of Chemical Engineers • American Nurses Credentialing Center • American Physical Therapy Association • American Speech-Hearing-Language Association • Applied Systems Client Network • Association Executives of North Carolina • Association of Cable Communicators • Community Associations Institute • Institute of Food Technologists • International Foodservice Distributors Association • International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans • National Air Duct Cleaners Association • National Association of College & University Food Services • National Association of Counties • National Fraternal Congress of America • National Glass Association • National Recreation and Park Association • SSPC: The Society for Specialty Coatings • Southern Building Material Association • Toastmasters International 84!APPENDIX A: PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS
  • 85. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Appendix B: Survey Data Responses for All Questions Please note that whenever data was not collected, the results are marked N/A, or not applicable. All Respondents The following questions, in addition to the demographic questions at the end of this appendix, were asked of all respondents. USE OF E-LEARNING E-learning, also known as computer-based training or online distance education, refers to computer- enabled learning carried out by individuals or groups outside of a physical classroom, either over the Internet or an internal network. There are many methods of e-learning such as Webcasts, self-paced tutorials, podcasts, facilitated discussions, etc., but for the purpose of this survey, any activity in which a user receives instruction via a computer counts as e-learning. Does your organization currently using e- learning to deliver education? (488 responses) Yes 61.1% No, but plan to start in the next 6 months 13.5% No, but plan to start in the next 12 months 12.7% No, and do not plan to start in the next 12 months 12.7% RESOURCE ALLOCATION FOR ALL EDUCATION Do you expect the total resources (monetary and personnel) allocated to all educational initiatives (including but not only e-learning initiatives) at your organization in 2009 to be more, less, or the same as those allocated in 2008? (404 responses) More than 2008 39.4% About the same as 2008 48.8% Less than 2008 11.9% Currently Using E-learning The following questions were asked only of organizations currently using e-learning. RESOURCE ALLOCATION FOR E-LEARNING Do you expect the total resources (monetary and personnel) allocated to only e-learning initiatives at your organization in 2009 to be more, less, or the same as those allocated in 2008? (351 responses) More than 2008 48.8% About the same as 20008 41.1% Less than 2008 10.1% 85!APPENDIX B: SURVEY DATA
  • 86. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 TIME USING E-LEARNING How long has your organization been using e-learning? (289 responses) Less than 1 year 16.3% 1 to 2 years 35.3% 2 to 5 years 32.9% More than 5 years 15.6% CURRENT PARTICIPATION BY MEMBERSHIP What percentage of your membership base would you estimate participates in at least one e-learning offering from your organization annually? (211 responses) Average Median 18.2% 10% OVERALL SATISFACTION WITH E-LEARNING Overall, how satisfied are you with your current e-learning initiatives? (250 responses) Very satisfied 21.6% Somewhat satisfied 56.8% Somewhat dissatisfied 16.0% Very dissatisfied 5.6% SATISFACTION IN SPECIFIC AREAS How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with your current e-learning initiatives in terms of the specific items below? (244 responses) Very Somewhat Neutral Somewhat Very Not Satisfied Satisfied Dissatisfied Dissatisfied Applicable Usage (e.g., number of course 13.2% 33.3% 10.7% 27.2% 13.6% 2.5% enrollments) Revenue (e.g., from course sales) 7.9% 25.6% 16.9% 24.8% 10.7% 14.5% The financial cost of creating the 12.9% 28.8% 27.9% 17.5% 8.8% 4.6% initiatives The financial cost of supporting and 14.6% 27.1% 27.1% 18.8% 8.3% 4.6% maintaining the initiatives The staff time required to develop the 7.4% 33.9% 24.4% 24.0% 7.4% 3.3% initiatives The staff time required to maintain the 9.2% 32.9% 29.2% 19.6% 6.3% 3.3% initiatives Feedback from participants in the 23.8% 38.1% 17.6% 14.6% 3.3% 2.9% initiatives 86!APPENDIX B: SURVEY DATA
  • 87. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Currently Using E-learning or Planning to Use E-learning The following questions were asked both of organizations currently using e-learning and those planning to within the next 12 months. PURPOSE OF E-LEARNING For what purposes does your organization use or plan to use e-learning? Check all that apply. Currently Using Planning to Use (296 responses) (126 responses) Professional development for members 92.6% 86.5% Professional development for non-members 64.2% 44.4% Training for staff 35.5% 20.6% Training for affiliated organizations or chapters 19.9% 27.0% Training for volunteers 20.3% 26.2% Advocacy and issue education 30.7% 26.2% Other 8.4% 7.9% KEY BENEFITS For your organization, what are the three key benefits associated with e-learning? Please check only the three that your organization considers most important. Current E-learning Planned E-learning (289 responses) (124 responses) Instructional effectiveness versus other modes of training or education 13.5% 17.7% Cost-effectiveness versus other modes of training or education 74.7% 78.2% Ability to reach more learners 73.0% 78.2% Opportunity for learners to direct their own learning 21.5% 23.4% Convenience for learners 78.9% 72.6% Ability to generate revenues (e.g. from online product sales) 31.5% 29.0% Reduction of risk related to educational products by diversifying product 3.5% 3.2% line Ease of tracking continuing education for learners 8.3% 12.1% Other 3.1% 3.2% 87!APPENDIX B: SURVEY DATA
  • 88. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 THREE BIGGEST BARRIERS What are the three biggest barriers your organization has encountered or expects to encounter while developing e-learning initiatives?† Please check only the three that your organization considers most important. Currently Using Planning to Use (279 responses) (119 responses) Concern that costs would exceed financial return 41.6% 39.5% Concern that costs would exceed non-financial return 7.5% 7.6% Lack of funding necessary to implement an e-learning initiative 20.4% 40.3% Concern about the effectiveness of e-learning 21.5% 17.6% Concern about end users technology skills 45.5% 35.3% Staff time required to develop the e-learning offerings 38.7% 57.1% Staff time required to support e-learning 26.2% 33.6% Lack of expertise in e-learning 33.3% 46.2% Lack of management buy-in 6.5% 4.2% Resistance from current trainers or facilitators 8.2% 3.4% Fear that stakeholders will not use the e-learning offerings we develop 33.0% 24.4% No perceived need for e-learning 5.7% 5.0% Other 6.5% 4.2% † We intended for organizations not currently using e-learning to answer this question about perceived barriers, but, unfortunately, responses were not collected owing to a technical glitch. FINANCIAL GOALS FOR E-LEARNING Which of the following statements describes your financial goals for your current e-learning offerings or your planned e-learning initiatives? Current Offerings Planned Offerings (279 responses) (120 responses) Must be self-sustaining, but profitability (positive net revenue) is not 33.7% 38.3% required Must be self-sustaining and profitable (positive net revenue) 50.2% 52.5% Doesn’t need to be self-sustaining because costs will be subsidized 16.1% 9.2% CHARGING FOR E-LEARNING Does your association charge or will it charge for its e-learning offerings? Currently Charging Planning to Charge (279 responses) (115 responses) Yes, we charge/will charge for all of our offerings 42.3% 32.2% Yes, we charge/will charge for some of our offerings 43.7% 45.2% No, we do not/will not charge for our offerings 14.0% 8.7% Not sure N/A 13.9% 88!APPENDIX B: SURVEY DATA
  • 89. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 PRICING OF E-LEARNING: PER HOUR Assume that you were to break the pricing for your e-learning offerings (excluding any free offerings) down into a price per hour of content delivered. On average, how much (in U.S. dollars) does your organization charge members per hour of content for an e-learning offering? If you do not know the exact dollar figure, please provide your best estimate. Currently Charging Planning to Charge (264 responses) (77 responses) Average price per hour of content $56.79 $52.24 Median price per hour of content $40.00 $40.00 CREDITS FOR E-LEARNING Which type of credit does your organization currently offer or plan to offer for e-learning? Check all that apply. Currently Offered Planning to Offer (277 responses) (114 responses) No credit is/will be offered 35.4% 33.3% Continuing education units (CE or CEU) 43.0% 41.2% Continuing medical education (CME) 10.1% 13.2% Continuing legal education (CLE) 1.8% 5.3% Continuing professional education (CPE) 8.3% 10.5% Certificate of successful completion 31.8% 32.5% Credit towards completing or maintaining a 31.8% 25.4% certification, licensure, or other credential Credit towards a degree at a college or 4.3% 1.8% university Other 5.4% 5.3% PRICING OF E-LEARNING: PER CREDIT Assume that you were to break the pricing for your e-learning offerings (excluding any free offerings) down into a price per unit of available credit. On average, how much (in U.S. dollars) does your organization charge members per credit unit for e-learning? If you do not know the exact dollar figure, please provide your best estimate. Currently Charging Planning to Charge (225 responses) (83 responses) Average price per hour of content $73.97 $53.80 Median price per hour of content $39.00 $30.00 89!APPENDIX B: SURVEY DATA
  • 90. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 MEMBER DISCOUNTS Do or will members of your association receive a discount on e-learning products and services? Current Discounts Planned Discounts (229 responses) (88 responses) No, pricing is the same for members and non-members 17.9% 8.0% Yes, most or all members receive a 1% – 9% discount 2.6% 3.4% Yes, most or all members receive a 10% – 19% discount 24.9% 26.1% Yes, most or all members receive a 20% – 29% discount 14.8% 18.2% Yes, most or all members receive a 30% – 39% discount 10.5% 4.5% Yes, most or all members receive a 40% – 49% discount 3.5% 2.3% Yes, most or all members receive a 50% or greater discount 13.1% 6.8% Don’t know yet N/A 27.3% Other 12.7% 3.4% MARKETING How important are each of the following methods for promoting or marketing your e-learning offerings? (260 responses) Not Important Slightly Very Absolutely at All Important Important Necessary E-mail marketing (e.g., e-newsletters) 2.3% 4.7% 28.7% 64.3% Print mailings (e.g., direct mail) 29.0% 36.3% 24.2% 10.5% Conference exhibits 35.5% 37.2% 19.4% 7.9% Banner ads on your own organizational Web site 23.3% 26.9% 34.3% 15.5% Banner ads on other Web sites 59.0% 25.2% 13.2% 2.6% Promotional Webcasts 63.1% 21.6% 12.3% 3.0% Search engine optimization 41.8% 21.1% 22.8% 14.2% Pay-per-click advertising (e.g., Google AdWords) 72.6% 17.8% 7.0% 2.6% Word of mouth 1.6% 14.6% 40.9% 42.9% Press releases 37.2% 32.6% 21.3% 8.8% Television advertising 95.7% 3.5% 0.9% 0.0% Radio advertising 95.6% 4.0% 0.4% 0.0% 90!APPENDIX B: SURVEY DATA
  • 91. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 DEVELOPMENT OF E-LEARNING Are your e-learning offerings developed or will they be developed entirely in-house, using a mixture of in- house staff and outside vendors, or completely using outside vendors? Currently Using Planning to Use (257 responses) (107 responses) Entirely in-house 18.3% 16.8% Using a mixture of in-house and consultants or vendors 68.9% 71.0% Completely using outside vendors 12.8% 12.1% INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGNERS Does your organization make use or it will it make use of professional instructional designers (whether on staff or by contract) when developing its e-learning offerings? Currently Using Planning to Use (255 responses) (109 responses) Yes 43.5% 31.2% No 45.9% 17.4% Not sure 10.6% 51.4% E-LEARNING PRODUCTS AND SERVICES Which of the following e-learning products and services does your association currently provide or will your organization add in the next 12 months? Check all that apply. Currently Using Planning to Use (277 responses) (115 responses) Self-paced online courses, tutorials, or presentations (excluding 54.5% 47.8% recorded Webcasts or Webinars) Facilitated online courses (excluding Webcasts or Webinars) 19.1% 18.3% Real-time Webcasts or Webinars 67.1% 55.7% Recorded or on-demand Webcasts or Webinars 56.0% 47.0% Audio or video podcasts 35.4% 34.8% Member-only discussion boards 40.4% 40.0% Electronic study guides 15.5% 13.9% E-learning programs combined with classroom-based learning 15.5% 14.8% (blended learning) Offline formats (e.g., journal articles or classroom-based 14.8% 7.0% seminars) with online assessments Educational simulations or games 3.6% 4.3% CD-ROM or DVD-based education 34.3% 10.4% Third-party “off-the-shelf” courses 20.6% 16.5% Other 2.9% 4.3% 91!APPENDIX B: SURVEY DATA
  • 92. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 AUTHORING TOOLS Which of the following authoring tools, if any, does your association use or plan to use for creating e- learning? Currently Using Planning to Use (222 responses) (107 responses) Adobe Captivate 8.1% 4.7% Adobe Dreamweaver 14.9% 11.2% Adobe Flash 24.3% 9.3% Articulate Presenter 13.5% 0.9% Camtasia Studio 7.2% 4.7% Lectora (Trivantis) 1.4% 0.9% Outstart Trainer (Outstart) 0.9% 0.0% PowerPoint 60.4% 29.9% ReadyGo 0.5% 0.9% Toolbook (SumTotal) 0.9% 0.9% Tools provided in your learning management system (LMS) or learning 24.8% 10.3% content management system (LCMS) Other 17.1% 11.2% Don’t know yet N/A 64.5% WEBINAR PLATFORMS In the survey, Webinar platforms were included in the authoring choices above. They have been separated out here, however, for ease of comparison. Currently Using Planning to Use (222 responses) (107 responses) Adobe Connect (formerly Breeze) 3.7% 2.8% Elluminate 0.9% 0% Genesys 1.8% 0% GoToMeeting 22.5% 15.0% Microsoft LiveMeeting 13.5% 8.4% ReadyTalk 0.9% 0% WebEx 26.6% 11.2% 92!APPENDIX B: SURVEY DATA
  • 93. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS Which of the following social media tools does your organization currently use or plan to use as part of your online learning offerings? (Please only indicate tools that are or will be explicitly a part of your e- learning initiatives. For example, if your organization has or plans to have a wiki, but does not use it or plan to use it as part of its e-learning offerings, do not select that item.) Currently Using Planning to Use (248 responses) (109 responses) Blog 16.5% 25.7% Discussion forums 32.7% 45.0% Microblogging tools (e.g., Twitter or Jaiku) 2.4% 4.6% Photo-sharing sits (e.g., Flickr 2.4% 5.5% Podcasts 25.0% 28.4% Private social networking site (only approved users can join) 16.1% 22.9% Publicly available social networking site (anyone can register) 8.9% 9.2% Slide-sharing sites (e.g., Slideshare.net) 2.0% 1.8% Social bookmarking tools (e.g., Delicious or Diigo) 0.0% 1.8% Virtual worlds (e.g., Second Life) 1.2% 3.7% Web video sites (e.g., YouTube or Blip.tv) 7.3% 9.2% Wiki 10.1% 11.9% We do not use/plan to use any social media tools 47.6% 8.3% Not sure N/A 46.8% Other 6.9% 2.8% USE OF A LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM Does your organization currently use or plan to use a learning management system (LMS) or learning content management system (LCMS) for delivery and/or tracking of e-learning? Currently Using Planning to Use (259 responses) (109 responses) Yes 34.4% 11.0% No N/A 16.5% No, but we plan to start in the next 12 months 14.7% N/A No, and we do not plan to start in the next 12 months 33.2% N/A Not sure 17.8% 61.5% 93!APPENDIX B: SURVEY DATA
  • 94. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 LMS AND LCMS PACKAGES Which of the following LMS and/or LCMS packages does your organization currently use or plan to use? Check all that apply. Currently Using Planning to Use (84 responses) (23 responses) Angel LMS (ANGEL Learning) 0% 0% Avilar Web Mentor 1.2% 0% Blackboard 5.9% 4.3% Education Director (Results Director) 2.4% 4.3% ForceTen (Outstart) 0% 0% GeoExpress (GeoLearning) 2.4% 0% GeoMaestro (GeoLearning) 1.2% 0% Intralearn LMS (Certilearn) 3.5% 4.3% Intralearn LMS (Intralearn) 4.7% 4.3% Isoph Blue (LearnSomething) 5.9% 4.3% LearnCenter (Learn.com) 1.2% 0% LearningServer (Intralearn) 1.2% 0% LearnPro Plus (LearnSomething) 1.2% 0% LearningSpan 2.4% 0% Moodle 8.2% 8.7% Outstart Evolution 1.2% 0% Plateau 0% 0% Saba 1.2% 0% Sakai 0% 0% TopClass (WBT Systems) 3.5% 0% TotalLMS (SumTotal) 4.7% 0% Custom/Proprietary 5.9% 4.3% Not sure 22.4% 60.9% Other 25.9% 13.0% USE OF AN ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEM Does your organization currently use an association management system (AMS)? Current E-learning Planned E-learning (88 responses) (24 responses) Yes 54.5% 50.0% No 31.8% 37.5% Not sure 13.6% 12.5% 94!APPENDIX B: SURVEY DATA
  • 95. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 AMS PACKAGES Which of the following AMS packages does your organization currently use? Check all that apply. Current E-learning Planned E-learning (45 responses) (13 responses) Aptify (Aptify) 6.7% 0% Association Anywhere (ACGI) 2.2% 0% ClearVantage (Euclid) 2.2% 0% CRM for Members (ProTech) 0.0% 0% IMIS (Advanced Systems International) 42.2% 7.7% IRMembership (IRM Systems) 0% 0% Members360 (Affiniscape) 0% 7.7% netFORUM (Avectra) 17.8% 15.4% Office Manager (internet4associations) 2.2% 0% Personify (TMA Resources) 4.4% 0% TIMSS (TMA Resources) 8.9% 0% Wild Apricot (Wild Apricot) 0% 0% Other 26.7% 69.2% LMS/AMS INTEGRATION Are your learning management systems (LMS) and your association management system (AMS) integrated, or will they be integrated? In other words, is log-in information, data about users, data about course activities, or other types of data shared or will it be shared between the two systems? Current E-learning Planned E-learning (45 responses) (13 responses) Yes, the two systems are/will be integrated 46.7% 38.5% No, the two systems are not/will not be integrated, but we 24.4% 23.1% plan to integrate them in the future No, the two systems are not/will not be integrated, and we 28.9% 23.1% have no plans for integration Not sure 0.0% 15.4% 95!APPENDIX B: SURVEY DATA
  • 96. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 ADHERENCE TO GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS How important is adherence to guidelines from each of the following sources for your e-learning initiatives, or how important do you anticipate adherence will be? Current E-learning Initiatives (223 responses) Not Important Slightly Very Absolutely Don’t at All Important Important Necessary Know AICC (Airline Industry CBT Committee) 70.2% 2.3% 3.3% 1.9% 22.3% IMS Global Learning Consortium 65.1% 6.1% 3.3% 0.5% 25.0% Medbiquitous 67.3% 3.3% 1.4% 0.9% 27.0% SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) 45.0% 7.8% 11.9% 15.1% 20.2% Section 508 (Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act) 51.2% 5.6% 11.7% 5.6% 25.8% Planned E-learning Initiatives (92 responses) Not Important Slightly Very Absolutely Don’t at All Important Important Necessary Know AICC (Airline Industry CBT Committee) 52.2% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 47.8% IMS Global Learning Consortium 33.0% 2.2% 3.3% 0.0% 61.5% Medbiquitous 34.1% 1.1% 2.2% 0.0% 62.6% SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) 30.8% 3.3% 4.4% 3.3% 58.2% Section 508 (Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act) 28.3% 4.3% 7.6% 1.1% 58.7% DEPARTMENT RESPONSIBLE FOR E-LEARNING Which department or division of your organization holds or will hold primary responsibility for e- learning? Currently Responsible Planning to Be Responsible (261 responses) (113 responses) Education or professional development 75.5% 48.7% Member services 10.0% 14.2% Marketing 1.9% 3.5% Technology 1.9% 1.8% Don’t know 1.1% 19.5% Other 9.6% 12.4% 96!APPENDIX B: SURVEY DATA
  • 97. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Respondent Profile Data The following questions were asked of all respondents. GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS Which best describes the geographic focus of your organization (i.e., which best indicates the areas in which you actively solicit membership)? (400 responses) Single-community or municipality focus 1.8% Multiple-community focus within one state 7.8% Single-state or province focus 19.8% Multi-state or multi-province focus 4.3% National focus 39.8% International focus 26.8% TYPE OF ORGANIZATION What type of organization is your association? Please check all that apply. (398 responses) 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization 47.0% 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization 1.5% 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization 35.4% Trade association 23.4% Professional society 19.3% For-profit organization 3.5% Other 5.5% ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT COMPANY Do you work for your association through an association management company? (398 responses) Yes 10.6% No 89.4% CERTIFICATION PROGRAM Does your organization offer a formal certification program? (399 responses) Yes 34.8% No 65.2% CONTINUING EDUCATION Does your organization offer continuing education that specifically supports earning a formal certification or license, whether or not the certification or license program is your own? (399 responses) Yes 52.6% No 47.4% 97!APPENDIX B: SURVEY DATA
  • 98. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 BUDGET SIZE What is your organization’s annual budget? (379 responses) Less than $100,000 3.4% $100,001 - $500,000 14.5% $500,001 - $1,000,000 11.9% $1,000,001 - $5,000,000 37.2% $5,000,001 - $10,000,000 11.9% $10,000,001 - $25,000,000 10.3% $25,000,001 - $50,000,000 5.0% $50,000,001 - $100,000,000 5.3% More than $100,000,000 0.5% INDIVIDUAL MEMBERSHIP How many active individual members does your organization currently have? (391 responses) 1,000 or less 24.0% 1,001 to 5,000 24.3% 5,001 to 10,000 10.2% 10,001 to 25,000 11.3% 25,001 to 50,000 7.2% 50,001 to 100,000 3.8% More than 100,000 2.6% We have only organizational members 16.6% ORGANIZATIONAL MEMBERSHIP How many active organizational members does your organization currently have? (390 responses) Less than 100 21.0% 101 to 200 11.5% 201 to 500 11.8% 501 to 1,000 13.8% 1,001 to 5,000 11.8% More than 5,000 5.4% We have only individual members 24.6% 98!APPENDIX B: SURVEY DATA
  • 99. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 CLASSIFICATION Which of the following classifications most closely aligns with the audience served by your organization? (390 responses) Accommodation and food services 1.3% Libraries 0.3% Administrative and support 0.3% Management of companies and enterprises 1.0% Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting 2.1% Manufacturing 4.1% Arts, entertainment, and recreation 2.1% Mining 0.0% Construction 4.6% Publishing and broadcasting 1.0% Education: higher education 4.6% Real estate, rental, and leasing 3.3% Education: K-12 4.6% Retail trade 2.3% Education: other 3.1% Social services 2.8% Finance and insurance 3.8% Telecommunications 1.3% Health care: physicians 6.7% Transportation and warehousing 1.3% Health care: nurses 2.1% Utilities 1.0% Heath care: other 11.3% Waste management and remediation services 0.0% Human resources 1.3% Wholesale trade 1.0% Information technology 0.5% Other 32.3% STAFF How many paid staff does your organization currently have? (401 responses) 1 to 5 26.7% 6 to 10 18.2% 11 to 15 14.2% 16 to 30 10.7% 31 to 50 8.5% 50 to 100 9.7% 101 to 250 7.7% 251 to 500 3.2% More than 500 1.0% 99!APPENDIX B: SURVEY DATA
  • 100. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Appendix C: Survey Methodology The Details For the 2008 Association E-learning Survey that informants who wished to enter into the drawing serves as the basis for much of this report, the and receive the summary was collected through a population of interest was defined as trade and Web form connected to a database entirely separate professional associations as well as other nonprofit from the survey database and not integrated with it organizations that solicit membership. An exact in any way. tally of this population was not known since a comprehensive directory could not be located. The survey was available from November 20, 2008, Accordingly, the trade and professional association to December 19, 2008. The total response rate for the portion of the population was estimated at 88,000 survey was 518. Subsequently, 488 responses passed based on input from staff of the American Society of the screening criteria (see section below). Since Association Executives. This estimate is viewed as participation was voluntary, the responses conservative as it does not include organizations constituted a non-probability sample (that is, that view themselves as associations but may not be informants were neither randomly selected nor classified as trade or professional associations in randomly assigned to form the sample). public records. Accordingly, the findings are not generalizable (inferable) to the broader association population. A major challenge for this survey was compiling a We view the findings as a valuable baseline (and list of informants for each organization. catalyst) for continued research on e-learning Accordingly, a list of 40,000 individuals maintained products, services, and trends. by Boston Conferencing (a major Web conferencing provider in the association market) and a list of 162 With regard to the response rate, two factors should individuals maintained by Jeff Cobb (the survey be considered. First, potential informants may have team leader) were combined. Other membership been disinclined to respond to an invitation from a bases were considered (for example, the American Webinar vendor e-mail list. But we felt the potential Society of Association Executives and the for bias was very small relative to the potential to Association Forum of Chicagoland), but it was not reach a large pool of potential respondents. clear if these membership bases were fully Additionally, it should be noted that the e-mail list representative of the broader population of interest. was not a customer list. While it no doubt includes a number of Boston Conferencing customers, we felt SurveyMonkey.com (a hosted online survey tool) the size of the list was more than sufficient to ensure was used to create and publish the questionnaire. that no significant bias towards Webinars or Subsequently, invitations were e-mailed to 40,162 Webcasts as a form of e-learning would be potential informants. It should be noted that introduced. sending questionnaires, invitations, and follow-ups to postal addresses was not possible in light of Regarding the second factor, the Boston budget limitations. Conferencing list in some cases contained multiple contacts for a single organization. Therefore, Survey participation was anonymous. To encourage multiple informants (duplicates) for an organization informants to be forthcoming in their responses, we were possible, even though only one response was made it clear in our communications that we would desired. The number of duplicates was unknown; not request any identifying information from moreover, screening for (and removing) duplicates informants. To encourage participation, we offered from the 40,000 item list exceeded project resources. potential informants the opportunity to receive a Accordingly, two controls were implemented: summary report from the survey and to be entered into a random drawing to receive one of two Flip 1.Informants were instructed in the e-mails video cameras. Each of these opportunities was inviting survey participation as well as on the entirely optional. Contact information for home page of the survey itself to ensure that 100!APPENDIX C: SURVEY METHODOLOGY
  • 101. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 only one person would respond from the might. If the identifying characteristics in organization. different responses from the same IP seemed 2.Criteria were developed to identify the most significantly divergent, both responses were eligible informant (see section on screening retained. criteria below). Assuming responses were not retained for either of It should be noted that inviting multiple informants the above reasons, the next series of questions asked increased the chances of getting at least one were: response from an organization (which was more desirable than potential overweighting from • Does the title of person in charge of e-learning multiple responses). match the title of the person filling out the survey? If one or more of the respondents If you have questions about this survey and its indicated the title of the person in charge of e- methodology or are interested in gathering data learning at an organization, the response of the specific to your potential audience for e-learning, person with this title was the one retained. contact Jeff Cobb at jcobb@tagoras.com. • Is one response significantly less complete than the other? It was clear in the majority of cases Screening Criteria that one respondent from an IP address had One important goal in collecting responses was to begun the survey, abandoned it, and then a ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that only one different respondent from the same IP address response was received from each participating completed the survey with a different association. This goal had to be balanced with respondent ID. ensuring participant anonymity to elicit responses • Is e-learning or online learning in the title of the that were as candid as possible. All e-mail person filling out the survey? If the above correspondence related to the survey as well as the criteria did not produce a clear decision, survey home page indicated that only one person preference was given to responses submitted from an organization should complete the survey. In by someone with e-learning or online learning in addition, we captured Internet Protocol (IP) their title. addresses for all responses and then filtered the • Is education in the title of the person filling out responses to eliminate duplicate responses from any the survey? In the absence of an online learning given IP address. The following criteria, in the or e-learning title, preference was given for following order, were used for elimination: respondents with education in their titles. This criterion was based on the fact that the vast 1.Does the IP address appear to be associated majority or respondents to the survey indicated with an association management company that the education department holds (based on at least one respondent from the IP responsibility for e-learning. address indicating yes on in response to a • Who has the higher ranking title? In the absence of other clear title indicators, survey question asking the respondent whether preference was given to the respondent with she works for an association management the highest ranking title. company)? Because association management 3. companies typically manage multiple associations, multiple answers from a single IP were retained in these instances. 2.Do the responses from the same IP address have similar identifying characteristics— particularly industry focus, budget size, and membership base size? While different organizations will not typically share an IP address, it is not out of the question that they 101!APPENDIX C: SURVEY METHODOLOGY
  • 102. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 Appendix D: About Tagoras Publisher of The Report Tagoras is a market research firm and consultancy directly with a wide range of nonprofit clients and focused on the design, marketing, and management developed a deep understanding of the business, of digital learning and knowledge. We work with technical, and instructional issues that impact associations, philanthropies, and small-to-mid-sized nonprofit learning initiatives. In 2005, Isoph was businesses to help these organizations better acquired by LearnSomething. Jeff continued on with understand and leverage the opportunities made LearnSomething until the fall of 2008, when he possible by the new Web—what we like to call the embarked on the research and consulting activities learning Web. Our emphasis is on what achieves that now form the core of Tagoras. results, not on new gadgets and theories. Association E-learning 2009: State of the Sector represents the first Jeff is an award-winning teacher, a frequent speaker in a line of research in the e-learning world, and author of the e-book we plan to publish Learning 2.0 for Associations as well as the popular on e-learning in the Mission to Learn blog. He serves on the Professional association sector. Development Council of the American Society of Association Executives as well as on the advisory About the Authors board for Philantech, provider of the PhilanTrack™ online grant proposal, reporting, and management All the research and writing for this report was system. He has previously served on the research done by Tagoras principals Jeff Cobb and Celisa committee of the eLearning Guild and the editorial Steele. board of Innovate, a leading resource for information JEFF COBB about technology and education. Jeff has nearly two decades of CELISA STEELE experience in the world of Celisa has led the development and deployment of education and technology. After successful online education sites with numerous starting his career as a research nonprofit organizations ranging from smaller analyst for the Investor groups like the Frameworks Institute and the Responsibility Research Center, Alliance of Chicago Community he first became involved with Health Services to large national computer-assisted approaches to and multinational organizations learning in the early 1990s as an like the American Red Cross, instructor at the University of the American College of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In Radiology, the Society for 1997, he joined University Access, a company Human Resource Management, focused on developing online learning experiences and WebJunction, an initiative for colleges and universities and ultimately went on of the Bill & Melinda Gates to lead the academic division of the company. He Foundation. became senior vice president of business development when the company merged with IEC, Celisa is a managing director at Tagoras, and she a leading developer of computer-based training for was a cofounder and chief operating officer of Fortune 500 companies, and re-branded itself as Isoph, one of the leading providers of e-learning Quisic. services to the nonprofit sector. Prior to Isoph, she worked in creative services at Quisic, a developer of In 2001, Jeff left Quisic to found Isoph with the high-end online course content for major specific aim of helping nonprofit organizations universities and Global 2000 companies. Before develop successful online learning initiatives. joining Quisic, Celisa worked in curriculum Serving as Isoph’s chief executive officer, he worked 102!APPENDIX D: ABOUT TAGORAS
  • 103. ASSOCIATION E-LEARNING 2009 development for the not-for-profit Family and Children’s Resource Program (FCRP), part of the Jordan Institute for Families at the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A veteran of the e-learning world, Celisa served on the research committee of the eLearning Guild and has served multiple times as a judge in Brandon Hall’s annual e-learning awards. 103!APPENDIX D: ABOUT TAGORAS