Entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The growth and importance of online learning is not a replacement for in-person education, rather it’s a supplement.

By Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE


Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE President & CEO, Association Forum

One year ago this month, Association Forum introduced a brand-new Learning Management System with the goal of providing our world-class education through a convenient and accessible portal. With 40% of our membership located outside of the city limits of Chicago, we understood that it wasn’t always feasible for these members to come downtown to attend sessions. Coupled with our focus on digital transforming Association Forum, this LMS was a logical and necessary next step in the evolution of our offerings.

Since then, several hundred of our members have logged in to view live webinars, peruse our library of recordings of past live events and listen to the CEOnly Podcast, which is also available on iTunes and other podcast platforms. They participated in these digital offerings on their phone, while riding the train to work; or from a laptop in a conference room at their office; or on a tablet while flying to their annual conference. By offering digital options for education, associations can provide their members the flexibility to learn at their own pace.

The growth and importance of online learning is not a replacement for in-person education, rather it’s a supplement. For years, prognosticators theorized that the new digital-focused generations would forego traditional trade-shows and conferences in favor of online options, but both Generation Z and Millennials are demonstrating a propensity to spend their money on experiences over tangible products. These generations like to travel, and they see value in real-life connections.

The key to tying together the digital and in-person elements of our education and resources is a clear and actionable content strategy. In 2015, Association Forum introduced a brand-new content strategy, with help from Debra Zabloudil and the Learning Studio Inc. Since then, we have continued to assess and adjust that strategy based on the needs of our membership.

As our world enters the Fourth Industrial Revolution that is connecting people with technology, we look forward to continuing to grow our digital footprint and providing the best association education available through the means that you, our members, most want to receive it. We encourage you to follow our digital transformation journey.

About the Author

Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE President & CEO, Association Forum

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