Personalized Learning: Who, What, and Why Does It Matter?

What if we were to say, companies like Netflix and Amazon are your organization’s biggest point of competition?

For some, this statement may catch them off guard and not quite make sense. However, contrary to common beliefs, your association’s primary competitors are not the other associations in your field, nor the for-profit training companies you compete with, or even the local organizations who make networking opportunities readily available to your audience.

Instead, your primary competitors are very likely the same companies YOU consume products from. They are the companies you enjoy working with because of the convenience they offer you, the intuitive and user-friendly experience they provide time and time again, the amazing way in which they always seem to know exactly what you are looking for, and the ways in which they continually engage you with new products and benefits.

So, whether a clothing website recommends new products to purchase based on what you’ve previously bought, a restaurant app is suggesting new restaurants based on where you last ate, or a media app is suggesting a new television show to watch based on what you were previously watching – personalization seems to be falling behind in the eLearning world.

This means that your audience may start looking to those primary competitors of yours who you wouldn’t have previously thought were primary competitors, because your members like their personalized approach. What can you do to make sure your organization remains an industry leader and a top provider of education in your industry?

1. Who

Your learners! Their learning behavior is changing. In our webinar, Professional Learning in the Era of Amazon and Netflix, we cover some of these changes. They include:

  • Binge learning and content consumption
  • Utilizing tools to save my interests
  • Expecting specialized content and generic content in one place
  • Provide what I want, when I want it (not when it is available)

Yes even though behaviors are changing, your learners will view the content you are putting out if they have a high interest in the topic(s). Yes, they will view the content you are putting out if there are credits or certificates attached that they need in order to keep their certifications or designations. However, they don’t want to simply know what they are watching or learning about; they want to know why they are. Provide them some context that makes the journey feel a bit more personalized. And the more learners you have viewing your content, the more likely they are to recommend it to others – adding another layer of personalization.

2. What

This might be an obvious one, but it’s tough to have an eLearning program without utilizing technology. What you might not realize is that not all technology is created equal and having the right platform(s) in place can make a difference in the personalized experience a learner receives. You can utilize your learning management system for things such as:

  • Courses – customizing your courses by adding a variety of different components rather than single pieces of content allows you to enhance the end user experience
  • Groups – allowing learners to follow specific curriculums and learning pathways based on their group permissions.
  • Discussion Boards – allowing learners to interact with one another and discuss different events, courses, and presentations.
  • Reporting – analyzing learner data and using this information to draw correlations between learners and content and changes and improvements that can be made to future courses.

While your LMS is very important when it comes to eLearning, there is a good chance your LMS is integrated with an association management system. Having an integration should immediately make a more seamless experience for your end user, and increase the amount of personalization they can receive as your association management system should hopefully be able to offer advanced personalization features such as:

  • Seamless access to the LMS through Single Sign-On
  • Early access to event registration
  • Exclusive invitations to events
  • Coupons for your online store
  • Discounted membership renewal

The best software can also apply variable pricing rules based on the details in your member profiles, which can greatly improve the member experience. All of these items, and more, will continue making your end users feel like they are getting that personalized experience that they have become accustomed to and are expecting.

3. Why (does it matter?)

To kick off the year, we had a company-wide meeting at our headquarters where our big focus was our “why” – as an individual, a department, and the company as a whole. By understanding our “why”, it enables our team to start the day motivated and be inspired to drive forward our mission. Just like a company’s employees need their own “why”, your learners do too!

While the “why” of learning is typically an easy one to realize, it is important to try and bring out a bigger “why” whenever a learner is taking a course. It will allow the learner to identify the higher purpose of the activity so that the satisfaction won’t just be for completing the course and receiving the certificate, but instead for increasing their knowledge and spending the time to become a more educated person in their field.

Taking that a step farther, the more involved someone becomes with the eLearning your organization offers, the more likely they may become involved with the community aspect of your organization as well. If your members feel a strong sense of belonging and allegiance to your association, potential members will be able to feel it – and they will want to be part of it. This close feeling of community is some of the best marketing your association’s membership program could ever hope for. Coupled with a personalized learning experience, you’ll be able to position your association as the industry-leader in your field.

While you plan out your eLearning programs for the coming months, make sure to pay attention to the level of personalization your platforms and materials are providing your members to ensure they will keep coming back for more!

Author Bio

Jocelyn Fielding – Director, Marketing & Sales Operations

Jocelyn is responsible for all marketing activities at Blue Sky eLearn, as well overseeing sales from an operational standpoint. She has over 10 years of experience in sales and marketing, with 7 of those years being spent at Blue Sky, marketing and selling to associations, corporations, and pharmaceutical companies. When Jocelyn isn’t working, she enjoys being outside – whether hiking or heading to the beach. She’s also an avid traveler, has been to six of the seven continents, and is always planning her next trip (or two!).