2023 is almost here! Does your association have a content development strategy for your continuing education (CE) program? If not, it’s time to start planning! Here’s how to get started.
Why does your association need a content development strategy for your CE program?
A learning content strategy will help your staff stand out from association competitors and determine learning objectives. With defined goals, you can create innovative content that adheres to your unique KPIs. Developing a plan sets your association up for future success in delivering an excellent learning experience.
How to plan your CE content development strategy
Begin your plans for next year by reflecting on the past. What worked? What didn’t? Looking back will help you plan for the future. Next, ensure your CE content development strategy covers the following components:
1. Meet member needs
A strong continuing education program is constantly evolving. Start by asking questions like, are we providing relevant CE courses? Are we meeting our members’ learning needs in terms of educational objectives? Do we offer fair prices for our CE offerings?
Be sure to have members complete a learner evaluation each time they complete a course. Routinely survey your members to get their perspectives and request additional feedback on your program. Specifically ask questions about course objectives, program offerings, and CE prices to discern if your program is meeting the mark.
CALL OUT: “We want our programming to be both educational and formative,” says Terry Burnett of the South Carolina Bar Association. “In looking at what we’re trying to accomplish for our members…I feel like it’s incumbent on us to look at our financial goals and credits to ensure our members leave the program with information that makes them better attorneys and judges in their practices.”
2. Relevant learning objectives
Examine your core learning objectives. Your CE program’s learning objectives direct which content you’ll create for your members. Reviewing your objectives will help you decide if your association is currently experiencing any content gaps.
Start by reviewing the number of course enrollments to determine which content is most popular with your members. Next, examine course evaluations and survey responses to decide why the content is popular. Try asking your CE educators to complete a program evaluation and be part of your review process to provide additional insight. Be sure you consider how the content is delivered and factor in tracking metrics about CE taught through webinars, live videos, or interactive courses.
CALL OUT: “We always look at our program evaluations following a course to gain key member feedback,” says Alexandra Wong of the Law Society of Ontario. “We now use an open-ended question system and get much more data regarding our courses. We’ll get comments on whether a course description and its objectives match the program, and we’ll learn what else our members want to see in the course.”
3. Interactive content formats
Offering a wide range of content options in your CE program improves the member experience, increases schedule flexibility and boosts learner engagement. Members can select a CE course based on their learning preferences, technology comfort levels, and the space in their calendars.
When you provide more content offerings, members are more likely to engage in the course and have successful outcomes. It is unlikely that all your members will flourish in a class taught solely by PowerPoint. However, providing multiple content delivery options like webcasts, webinars, and on-demand learning courses with interactive elements like surveys, checkpoints, and real-time polling, will help to engage more members.
CALL OUT: “We’ve always been looking at our programs, trends, and registration numbers…we’re constantly looking at the content,” says Wong. “We also find great success with rotating the speakers as we make sure to provide relevant content to our members.”
4. Develop high-quality content
Your association must strike a balance between offering quality content and providing a wide range of material for your CE program. Finding this in-between can be challenging, but when you provide a wide range of high-quality content, you’ll establish your association as an industry expert which can help you stand apart from association competitors. Developing high-quality content for your CE program can also help you boost member retention and attract new members.
Your association can develop high-quality content by working with subject matter experts (SMEs) within your organization and industry. As you create content for your CE program, consider individuals across the membership journey to help you develop new topics. For example, try CE for recent graduates or retirees, hot topics in your industry, or thought leadership conversations.
CALL OUT: “We try to offer a balanced approach when it comes to programming, offering conferences and extra online courses for members to gain their specialized certifications,” says Burnett. “Some programs only have 10 or 20 people, while some programs have 100 or 200. But we still provide courses and certification opportunities for all our members.”
5. Advanced technology solutions
The push for virtual educational offerings has become a main technological strategy for many associations in post-pandemic America. Virtual learning can help reach a multitude of members who may still feel nervous or don’t have the means to attend live classes, conferences, or events.
Technology like learning management software can empower your association to deliver more content options to members. Look for an LMS that offers flexible content delivery options, like live online streaming and on-demand events. You’ll also want a scalable LMS that can grow with your association, and help you repurpose and repackage your CE learning content. Finally, look for an LMS that integrates seamlessly with your association management software (AMS).
CALL OUT: “Post-pandemic, so much more of our content is now online and it’s made it more efficient to reach people in the outlying areas of [South Carolina],” says Burnett. “Technology has made it easier to reach more members.”
Looking for more tips on how to create a content development strategy for 2023? Don’t miss our webinar on December 7, 2022: CLE Expert Series Webinar: Capitalizing on Technology Trends & Member Preferences.Register Now