The personalization of learning for individual professionals will be one of our best weapons in the war against the growing knowledge gaps that plague today’s workforce. As the pace of change in the workforce accelerates, workforce readiness requires ongoing lifelong learning. Today’s employers are battling a skills gap as the pace of learning has lagged the pace of change for required skills. Fortunately, associations today can leverage their databases and technology to help close this gap by creating learning experiences that maximize the learner’s time and efficiency when meeting learning objectives.
Associations are the leading provider of secondary education after colleges and universities today, which is often among their most important value propositions. Some of this education is compulsory, and some is elective. But in both cases, whether a professional wants to learn a new school to stay competitive, or needs to pass a high stakes exam to remain certified, the time it takes to learn competes with many other priorities. Consider a surgeon who has to find time outside the operating room, patient consultations, and research to study for an upcoming board exam that is required to maintain her credentials. That takes a lot of work and can be stressful, especially when balanced against the need to deliver life-saving procedures.
How valuable then would a learning system be that could cut this preparatory time down significantly, while still delivering the same preparedness? Fortunately, this is the direction of today’s learning systems, and they are transforming how we learn by making sure our time and attention is maximized to fill knowledge gaps. Often it’s through the use of assessments, personalized remediation and recommended content. But increasingly the use of algorithms, benchmarking against peers, and analyzing other aggregate data are driving recommended and personalized learning content and paths that are more accurate and effective. Today’s learning programs are able to essentially tell the learner: “Look, if you have to pass this exam in eight months, here are the things you’re strong and weak at, and here is exactly where you should spend your time to best prepare. And if you spend your time outside of these areas, you’re not using it wisely.” It will prescribe for each learner a personalized program of learning, pulled say from a database of 10,000 questions and answers, choosing the right 1500 in the right order to best fill their learning gaps. Imagine the value to that busy surgeon.
Even more interesting is that the systems are starting to, through the use of measures such as a learner’s own confidence ratings, assess where these doctors and surgeons think they’re strong and weak. They correct them when they’re own evaluation of skills is wrong, preventing the common mistake of gravitating toward study where an individual is already strong. It’s all through the use of data, and a true gift to members.
Predictive analytics are also getting more sophisticated. Here’s an example of how we apply them through associations to propel members forward in their careers. We recommend learning content and courses to professionals based on the type of jobs people they look at on association job boards, and the type of content in the resumes they upload. We are now able to link the association’s course library with job requirements, and can say to members “If you want that job, here’s are courses or certifications the association offers that will make you more qualified for it.” Likewise, when a member invests in the association’s learning and certification programs, we can also recommend jobs and career paths that now make sense for them, that propel them upwards. These linkages, between learning and career growth solidify the investment the members make with their association. They create members for life.
And finally, let it not be overlooked that not all personalization should be driven by technology. A thank you note or a personal following up on a conversation you had at a meeting are equally or more impactful. When it comes to learning however, technology is now allowing associations to create personalized learning experiences at scale, giving members the gift of time. What is more valuable than that?