Spoiler Alert: Your Members Want Continuing Education

March 15, 2023
Man wearing headphones taking notes and watching a live virtual class
If you aren’t sure your members want continuing education or professional development options, you may want to reconsider. Association professionals across the U.S. and Canada recently provided a look at the inner workings of their organizations when they replied to GrowthZone AMS’s 9th annual association survey. The results show that continuing education and professional certifications are among the top reasons members join their organizations.
What is Continuing Education?

It should come as no surprise that association members want a variety of continuing education options that can help them stay up-to-date with the latest developments in their field and improve their skills and knowledge. Some common types of continuing education that association members may seek include:

  • Conferences and workshops: These events provide opportunities for members to learn from experts in their field, network with other professionals, and share best practices. They may cover a range of topics, from industry trends and emerging technologies to leadership and communication skills.
  • Online courses and webinars: Online learning provides a flexible and convenient way for members to access educational content from anywhere at any time. Courses and webinars may be self-paced or live and can cover a variety of topics and skill levels.
  • Certifications and credentialing programs: Certifications and credentialing programs offer a way for members to demonstrate their expertise in a specific area of their profession or industry. These programs may require passing an exam or completing a certain number of continuing education credits.
  • On-the-job training: Many associations offer on-the-job training programs that provide members hands-on experience and practical skills in their field. These programs may be offered through partnerships with employers or other organizations.
  • Mentoring and coaching: Mentorship and coaching programs offer members personalized guidance and support in their career development. These programs may pair members with experienced professionals in their field or offer one-on-one coaching sessions.

Provide your members with continuing education options that are relevant, accessible, and engaging, and that can help them achieve their personal and professional goals.

6 Tips for Offering Continuing Education to Benefit Your Members:
1. Identify the needs and interests of your members.

Before offering continuing education programs, it's important to understand the needs and interests of your members. Survey your members to find out what types of continuing education programs they would be interested in.

2. Offer relevant and engaging programs.

Once you have identified the needs and interests of your members, offer continuing education programs that are relevant and engaging. Make sure the programs are tailored to the specific interests of your members and provide valuable information.

3. Use a variety of formats.

Offer continuing education programs in a variety of formats, such as webinars, workshops, and conferences. This will allow members to choose the format that works best for their schedule and learning style.

4. Provide opportunities for networking.

Continuing education programs can be an excellent opportunity for members to network with others in their field. Provide opportunities for members to connect with each other before, during, and after the program.

5. Encourage participation.

Encourage members to participate in continuing education programs by offering incentives such as continuing education credits or certifications, which will motivate members to attend and actively participate in the program.

6. Evaluate the effectiveness.

After the program, evaluate its effectiveness by gathering feedback from members. Use this feedback to improve future programs and ensure members get the most out of their continuing education opportunities.

By using these tips, you can create effective continuing education programs that benefit your members and help them grow professionally.

How to Leverage Technology for Continuing Education

Association management software and learning management systems can be valuable tools for managing continuing education programs. Here are some ways in which they can help:

  • Streamline course registration
  • Manage course materials
  • Track attendance
  • Generate certificates

Using software makes it easier for members to register for courses by allowing them to sign up online, view course descriptions and schedules, and pay for courses electronically. This saves time and reduces the administrative burden on staff.

Course materials can be uploaded and stored in one central location, making it easy to distribute materials to participants and ensure everyone has access to the same resources. Your association can track attendance and participation in courses, making it easy to determine who has completed a course and who still needs to finish it. This helps staff keep track of continuing education requirements for members and ensure that everyone is meeting their obligations.

Leveraging platforms that are designed for associations can generate completion certificates for members who have completed a course or program. This can help members demonstrate their knowledge and skills to employers or other organizations. Managing association certifications, training, and credit hours can be a time-consuming and challenging process.

Take it to the Next Level: Integrate an eLearning Platform into Your AMS

With platforms like the GrowthZone Continuing Education Module you can easily manage and track your members’ certifications and training — all in the same software you use to manage your association contacts, memberships, billing, and events.

Make it even easier by taking the next step and offering continuing education courses through an eLearning platform integrated with your AMS. This ensures that courses are organized for ease of use and quick completion for your members. An LMS-AMS integration even automatically updates your members’ course completions and certificates on their member profiles. It also enables you to offer members additional courses based on their completion histories.

About the Author
Amy Schoenrock
is a Marketing and Communications Specialist at GrowthZone AMS. Her professional background includes marketing for technology companies that support professional development for membership-based organizations and educators. GrowthZone Association Management Software helps over 4,000 member-based organizations grow and retain membership, generate revenue, engage, and communicate with members and prospects, and streamline their day-to-day operations. For more information, visit https://www.growthzone.com.

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