Achieving Balance with Blended Learning

Published by Gina Wentling | Topics: Associations, Blended Learning, Conferences, Content Strategy, Mobile Apps, Print, Training

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eLearningDo you ever look at your kids or other youngsters and wonder what education will look like for them in the future? Given the advances in technology we’ve seen in the last few years (or decades, depending on your perspective), it’s unlikely the traditional classroom scenario will survive unscathed.

Indeed, changes can already be seen, with some states offering online classes in lieu of the traditional high school experience. In higher education, the University of Phoenix, for example, serves as an alternative to the on-campus, instructor-led college life.

Given the options available to learners, from children to the seasoned professionals in your association, is classroom instructor worth saving?  In our opinion, the answer is an unequivocal yes. There are many aspects of face-to-face learning that shouldn’t be tossed aside. We’re not denying technology’s impact on the modern classroom; there will be some changes made. Schools and continuing education training will continue to evolve, as they have in the past.

As reported by Samantha Whitehorne, deputy editor of Associations Now, a recent study recorded college students’ predictions on the future of education. Clearly, technology is a factor; using the internet to find information and resources is prevalent, whether or not classes are taking place online.

Conducted by Millennial Branding and, the study of 1,345 college students yielded some interesting results:

  • 39% predicted that education would become more virtual in the future
  • 19% believe social media will play a part in student engagement
  • 50% claim they don’t need a traditional classroom to learn
  • 78% believe it’s easier to learn in a classroom than online
  • 43% think that online education is the same quality or better than traditional college

This study has implications for event planners and training directors in the association industry. The apparent dichotomy of two findings—that half of respondents don’t think they need a traditional classroom, but the vast majority admits they learn better in one—suggests that a blended approach is best. A combination of face-to-face instruction and virtual resources provides the value of classroom learning while feeding the need to take every aspect of life online. Millennials and other professionals can choose to participate however they’d like.

Hybrid events are becoming popular as a compromise between in-person conferences and wholly-online professional development. The American Payroll Association and the Maryland Association of CPAs, among others, already hold hybrid events. By using a mobile event app, event planners can bring an online component to traditional conferences, with social media activity spanning the time before, during, and after the event.

Continuing education training has come to rely more and more on a blended learning approach to its classes as well. Printed coursebooks are supplemented with online content, including videos, resources, and online discussions. The classroom is changing for professionals in pursuit of new skills as well as for college students.

How have your association events and training changed in light of recent technological advances? How do you plan to incorporate technology in 2014? What’s the best way to move in that direction without alienating other members and attendees?

In Whitehorne’s article, The Future of Learning, According to Millennials, she recommends starting the conversation with your younger association members. By taking the time to listen to what they need to learn, your association can better understand how to navigate these waters.

In fact, you might consider forming a group, including members in all stages of their careers, to discuss your association’s approach to education, both in terms of events and continuing education training. Engaging millennials is important, but all members of your organization should have educational options that appeal to them.

What do you think? How does your association plan to stay on top of its educational mission while adapting to new technologies? Comment below!


About Gina Wentling

During her time as Marketing Communications Coordinator (2013-16), Gina wrote hundreds of blog posts for Omnipress. Her work has also been published in association publications. Read More.

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