We know association members are now learning anytime, anywhere, and in a variety of different formats (five on average!). This adoption of a multimodal way of learning provides professional organizations with ample opportunities and challenges to creatively deliver educational content in engaging ways. While annual conferences and hosted meetings aren’t going anywhere, webinars are an increasingly powerful way to deliver professional education for organizations of all sizes. In fact, according to our 2018 Member Education and Career Development Report, almost 70 percent of association members are interested in learning via webinar, and this number goes even higher when you look specifically at Millennials and Gen Xers.  

While multiple platforms allow you to present your content online, they’re not all created equally. When it comes to choosing a webinar platform, it’s no surprise the decision is often based on price. Budgets are tight, time is limited, and perhaps a platform such as Adobe Connect or GoToWebinar meets your organization’s immediate needs. In fact, they’re great for small group collaboration, and most even have recording capability.  

However, there are many items to consider when choosing between a meeting platform and a webinar provider, including the goals of your learning program, the requirements for members’ certification, and how you can provide the best experience possible to keep your members engaged and coming back for more. Here are some additional considerations to help you on your journey to professional, seamlessly executed webinars.

Tools for Continuing Education  

Make sure your technology partner is able to meet online learning requirements with built-in features, such as checkpoint verifications, quizzes, evaluations, and customized certificates. 

Connected Technologies  

There’s also the headache of multiple vendors to consider. When the platform you use is separate from your association management system (AMS) and learning management system (LMS), this creates extra work for your staff. The right technology partner (and integration) can help you capture, analyze, and report on valuable data without the extra work of having to manually transfer registration and credit data into your AMS.  

Capacity  

Give yourself room to grow your learning program. Look for a vendor that doesn’t have capacity limits on the amount of webinar attendees.  

Mobile Responsive  

It’s 2019. Your members should have the ability to access webinars from anywhere and on any device.  

Impact on Product Roadmap  

It’s also critical to think about the ongoing development of the platform. Webex, Adobe Connect, Zoom, and GoToWebinar are designed for corporations, and you’ll have limited to no ability to influence the direction of the product to meet the needs of your organization. In contrast, a good technology partnership with a vendor that focuses on organizations just like yours will likely request feedback through multiple channels, addressing any problems, while prioritizing recommendations on the product roadmap. 

Customization  

Ensure your provider offers customization capabilities to increase opportunities for branding, sponsorship promotions, speakers or events, and styling to achieve the right look and feel.  

Archive  

Look for the ability to archive and repurpose content, so members who miss a live program can view an on-demand version. 

Live Support  

Technical issues are to be expected, and if your members experience any technical issues during the live presentation, you’ll hear about it. To avoid the inevitable pitfalls of troubleshooting yourself, find a vendor that provides a dedicated support team to help attendees with any issues that may arise during the program.  

Ultimately, the choice depends on the needs of your organization and members, but if your goal is to provide a great experience for your learner every time, you’ll likely want to avoid an out-of-the box meeting platform in favor of a webinar platform built for organizations just like yours. To learn more about the association industry’s most relied upon e-learning platform to deliver webinars, webcasts, and on-demand streaming, join us for a product tour of Freestone, next Tuesday, Feburary 26 at noon ET.  

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