UnderfootWhen it comes to your association’s continuing education training materials, the best solution for how to present your content, in print or digital formats, is … both.

In our work with associations, we have found that some training professionals struggle when deciding how to deliver continuing education training materials to learners. Traditionally, printed course materials were used and expected by class participants. Lately, however, many learners want online access to content so they can study on the go or read up on the subject before class starts.

Numerous studies suggest that reading printed materials is better for learner experience and retention. On the other hand, you have heard that young professionals in particular prefer to read on a screen. (Our survey of millennials busts that myth! Read more here.)

If you don’t offer printed materials, it will appear that your association is unaware of—or worse, unconcerned about—the research that reading paper books is better for retention. If you don’t put your CE training materials online, though, the association seems out of touch with technology and uninterested in providing a convenience to learners. This is the definition of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

You see the central conflict here, and it is baffling. Unless, that is, you consider the continuing education materials to be the most critical aspect of your training program. More important than snagging the very best venue, and more important than providing the most expensive snacks. Because training materials should hold that place in your program, and maybe it’s time that your budget reflected that.

Look, we’re not suggesting that you hold your seminar in some back alley so you can afford to give online access to course books. No one wants your learners to go without lunch because glossy covers look better than matte on the workbook.

Just consider that your training program’s primary goal is delivering knowledge to learners, and anything that doesn’t serve that purpose should be secondary. What’s most important? Hiring quality instructors and providing continuing education materials.

Once you align your budget and your goals, it becomes clear that increasing your spend on your continuing education training materials isn’t just possible—it’s necessary!

The best way to present your course materials whichever way your learners want to consume them. In other words, both print and digital are mandatory.