Ask These 6 Questions For A Better Print and Fulfillment Quote

If you print, warehouse, and ship training manuals or other materials as part of your educational programs and plan to go out for bid for those services, include these six questions in your print and fulfillment estimate request to ensure you’re getting accurate, transparent pricing.

The process of selecting a new print and fulfillment vendor can be time-consuming, resource-intensive, and feel risky. Will a new partner really deliver on all that was promised? Will it be disruptive to your organization or your end-users? And will there be any hidden or unanticipated costs?

Most organizations provide a formal request for proposal or request for estimate to prospective print vendors to gather standardized and objective data to minimize uncertainties about costs and capabilities.

Where Print and Fulfillment Estimates Usually Fall Short

 The most logical place to start when requesting a quote is by providing all print and mailing specifications to prospective vendors, including print quantity, page count, paper type, size, etc.

With this information, print providers typically calculate a roll-up of total costs that may include:

  • Price break quantities
  • Per-piece cost, and
  • Estimated shipping costs based on a sample destination

While this roll-up of pricing is usually sufficient for a one-time or less frequent print run that is shipped all at once or in bulk, it does not provide the level of detail necessary to truly understand all annual costs to print, warehouse, and ship materials on an ongoing basis.

Six Costs That Should Be Included on Your Estimate

In addition to understanding the overall cost-per-piece for each title in your training library, you’ll want to be sure any print and fulfillment estimate clearly outlines the following:

  1. Average print cost per title and/or per course
  2. Average number of items in a package
  3. Average box weight
  4. Average orders per month
  5. Average cost per shipment
  6. Total cost per class/course and the annual cost per class/course

Including these six calculations on your estimate request forces your proposal writing team to include the right amount of detail in the RFP so prospective vendors can better understand your current processes, workflows, and requirements early on. This helps to ensure you find someone who is truly a best fit for your organization.

It also results in more accurate and transparent pricing because it helps to eliminate any assumptions that may be unknowingly included in the vendor’s calculations.

And by having this level of detail early on, the best prospective partners may be able provide new ideas that could save you money and create efficiencies.

“Right-Size” Your Print Runs Using a Micro-Inventory Solution

Nothing about this past year has been predictable, including enrollment in instructor-led courses that were forced to migrate from in-person to online. For those organizations whose printed training materials are a cornerstone of the course, these changes in enrollment have made planning print run quantities and shipping materials to virtual learners significantly more difficult—and potentially carry more financial risk. In response, many organizations have migrated away from their legacy print and delivery model to a micro-inventory solution.

The effects of virtual delivery on course enrollment

Due to gathering restrictions and health and safety concerns, many in-person, instructor-led courses were moved from the classroom to an online environment. This change in delivery model presents several pros and cons. On the one hand, virtual instructor-led training sessions provide increased access to a wider audience who are no longer restricted by room capacity, time away from the office, or travel expenses. On the other hand, replicating the intimate, interactive, and hands-on environment of the classroom can be challenging, and in some cases, may decrease the perceived value of the course.

This dichotomy has produced changes in course enrollment, but the effects for organizations are all over the board.

We just closed our annual survey of training and education professionals. While we’re compiling the data for release in our 2021 Training Trends Report, here’s a preview of one important statistic.

When it comes to the impact of the pandemic on course enrollment:

  • 33% of respondents report a slight to significant decrease in participation
  • 34% of respondents report a slight to significant increase in participation
  • 27% have not seen any changes to course enrollment numbers

Maintaining “right-sized” print runs becomes more challenging

This lack of consistency and predictability within the training industry has made planning print runs for training materials being sent to virtual learners more difficult. Without the ability to anticipate how learners will respond to changes in course delivery, it’s harder to ensure you have the right materials for the course, and therefore run the risk of over-printing and throwing books away, or under-printing and not having them delivered to the learner on time.

It may be the perfect time to consider a MicroInventory solution.

How micro-inventory works

A MicroInventory solution provides a perfect balance between having just the right amount of inventory with the best cost-per-piece print costs.

We work with customers to produce smaller quantities of your educational materials that can satisfy a few months’ worth of demand, instead of anticipating your annual order volume. You only pay for the materials you sell, giving you volume pricing without paying for excess inventory, which ultimately frees up cash flow for your organization.

It also gives you more flexibility to monitor and manage changes in demand as the year progresses, making it a perfect solution during this time of extreme uncertainty—particularly as restrictions are eased and in-person learning becomes a reality again.

Outside of the pandemic, micro-inventory is an effective solution for any situation where course demand is not well-established, such as with the introduction of a new course or program.

The measurable impact of micro-inventory on print runs

One organization in particular, (ISC)2, switched to a MicroInvetory model, which eliminated the need to print, ship and store large print inventories around the globe and resulted in a 60% cost savings. Read the (ISC)2 Customer Profile to learn more about the benefits they experienced by switching to a MicroInventory print and delivery model.

Fast Data Makes Educational Programs More Agile

For years, organizations have been focused on the concept of “Big Data,” which is having access to a large volume of customer, operational, and financial data derived from a variety of sources. By cross-analyzing these different data sets, we can extract insights that help us make more meaningful and measurable decisions.

In other words, “Big Data” provides a more accurate picture of what’s happening across the organization.

Recently, the focus has shifted from “Big Data” to “Fast Data.” We still need accurate business intelligence to make better operational, strategic, and tactical decisions. But we also need to make those decisions more quickly across the organization than ever before.

The Rising Trend of Fast Data in Associations

In a May 2019 article by ASAE, Fast Data—or the ability to apply data insights immediately to make real-time decisions—was identified as, “one of 46 drivers of change that are likely to have a significant impact on associations in the future.” The rate of change in our world has increased exponentially—from industry and technological innovation to consumer behaviors and preferences. Organizations must be nimble and responsive to keep up with these changes. Fast data is one way to achieve agility.

Here’s how this applies to training programs.

A training professional monitors member conversations and questions to identify opportunities for professional development and creates new courses or programs accordingly. Instead of planning everything a year or more in advance, these organizations are now leaving room to deliver the education their members need at the exact time they need it.

Agility is a Must-Have for Education Professionals Today

In mid-2019 when ASAE published their article, the concept of fast data and its application for associations was just starting to gain traction. A year later, it  became an absolute necessity. The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to change our priorities and in short order.

It changed how every industry operates, which means at least some of our existing educational content may no longer be as relevant. We had to pivot quickly to develop and implement new curricula that reflect ever-changing research, policies, procedures, and standards. Given how important it is that our learners understand, retain, and apply this knowledge quickly, we need to use real-time data, such as program and learner performance, to address any gaps immediately.

Fast data not only tells us what content to develop but how to deliver it. It can provide insight on exactly how your participants learn best, and how hey want to engage with the content. With this information, you can choose your program format (virtual or in-person), tools, and technologies to better support your learners.

Getting Started Down the Path to Fast Data

Creating a more agile decision-making process using real-time data should ideally be a strategy that is enabled and embraced across the organization. But for some, this will require significant organizational transformation to achieve. Regardless of where your organization is with your data access and intelligence initiatives, you can begin to adopt a fast data mindset within your own team or department.

Start by making a list of the data points you already have access to and those you could easily gain access to through collaboration from other teams, such as marketing. Some examples may include:

  • LMS or video platform user data, including participation rates and quiz or test question answer stats
  • Google analytics/website user data
  • Email performance
  • Member forums and chat topics
  • Social media conversations
  • Webinar data
  • Virtual conference chats and discussions

Determine which data sets will help you quickly assess whether your current priorities are performing as planned, and if not, which immediate levers you can pull to affect change.

Whether or not organizations are pursuing fast data as a strategic initiative, we still have an opportunity to make real-time decisions that positively impact our current programs. In most cases, we already have the necessary data. We just have to apply it in smaller, more manageable pieces to better serve our members, learners, and stakeholders.

The Future of Continuing Education Can be Found in K-12 Classrooms

 

It seems that you can’t go a day without reading an article about current and emerging trends in continuing education—from micro- and just-in-time learning, to mobile technology and gamification, to virtual and augmented reality.  But these tools and tactics are just the means to an end. Behind the jargon is a macro-level trend of greater significance: how we deliver education is fundamentally changing because our understanding of how people learn best is changing. The origins of this shift can be traced all the way back to the K-12 classroom.  The school-aged learners of today will soon be the adult learners of tomorrow. And their current classroom experiences are going to affect professional development programs in the future.

We spoke with four long-time K-12 teachers to discuss how and why the classroom has changed, and how this has changed the role of both the student and teacher in the learning process to better understand how continuing education programs may need to evolve to meet the needs and expectations of tomorrow’s workforce.

Five Fundamental Shifts in Classroom Learning

All four teachers we interviewed indicated that the K-12 classroom has undergone a significant transformation in the past decade. While each represented different grade levels, subjects and school districts, they all identified the same five themes present in today’s educational environment.

  1. Moving away from a defined curriculum

All of our teachers remembered a day early in their careers when they were essentially handed a textbook that served as the class curriculum.  Each day consisted of some amount of rote instruction, with lessons pulled directly from the book. The learning, as one teacher noted, was much more “spoon-fed” to students, with some moderate amounts of hands-on or group activities to enhance the lesson.

Today the curriculum is much more generalized, with teachers being given guidelines on the topics that need to be covered and the foundational skills that must be learned. But it is up to the teacher on how they want to deliver the material. As a result, teachers are given a lot more freedom to get creative with lesson plans.

One example from a foreign language teacher illustrates this perfectly.  Historically, foreign language instruction included memorization of vocabulary lists. But this does not promote true language fluency. Many of today’s teachers are ditching the standard vocab tests and instead approaching foreign language instruction using the same building blocks we used to learn our first language—through active listening and speaking for the duration of the class, using relevant, real-life applications.  In one Spanish teacher’s example, she has students answer questions about themselves in Spanish as best as they can, and the class takes notes. She then plays a trivia game where the students guess things about their classmates based on the notes they took.

What is the impact this flexibility is having on teachers? According to one member of our panel, “We have to be okay with not knowing everything while we allow our students to try something new. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but in the end, we all learn from it.” Another teacher indicated, “We used to be pretty siloed in our own classroom. But today there’s a lot more collaboration happening in teaching through at-school teams and virtual connections—to get ideas from our peers, understand what’s already been tried and refined before we bring it to our classroom. We’re all figuring this out together.”

  1. Teacher and student roles have changed

With the migration away from a pre-defined curriculum, teachers spend less time at the front of the classroom telling students what they need to know. In today’s classroom, the teacher often models new material and then, “lets the kids run with it,” moving through the classroom to provide guidance. Teachers are also spending more time working with students to set learning goals and helping them craft a plan to reach these goals.

Conversely, this means the students have more accountability, as they play a more active role in their own learning.

  1. Students have more choice and voice in their own learning

With increased participation and accountability, students are also given greater flexibility in choosing how they learn best.

For one teacher, subjects from math and science to social studies can be taught any number of ways. Given the same subject and learning goal, some students may decide to use art supplies to create a project, some may use a computer program, while some may make a movie or slideshow.

This concept of student choice also translates to the classroom layout. According to all four of the teachers we interviewed, you generally won’t find many classrooms in their schools that contain the standard rows of desks. Many classrooms feature flexible seating arrangements where the kids can sit where they want, including at group tables, in bean bags, on couches or even on the floor. With a more fluid learning process, there is often more movement incorporated throughout the day, with students transitioning to various areas in the classroom based on the current task or assignment. According to one teacher, “As long as they’re staying on-task and not distracting others, it’s up to the student to determine what works for them.”

  1. Technology is the great facilitator

Our teachers agreed that technology has played a large role in this transformation. Tablets, laptops and other devices have become substantially more prevalent in the classroom. Two of the school districts have implemented a 1:1 ratio of student-to-device, while others supply a variety of devices for use in the classroom. These devices help facilitate a more personalized approach to learning. Math apps, for instance, allow the learner to follow a self-guided path based on their current level of proficiency. Instead of simply putting pen to paper, students can use technology to perform research on-the-fly and bring concepts to life.

  1. Assessments have changed

Historically, tests and other learning assessments have been recall-based (does the student remember what was taught?). But some school districts have started to more widely recognize this does not necessarily reflect whether the student comprehends the material. Testing methods have started to evolve to more accurately reflect true proficiency through real-world, application-based assessments. As one teacher puts it, “We’ve moved from testing on whether a student can remember what’s been taught, to whether they know how to use it.”

Additionally, some districts are also starting to use grading systems that separate effort from proficiency. As one teacher illustrates, “An ‘A’ student and a ‘C’ student can easily be equally proficient. The only difference is the amount of effort they need or choose to put in to get there.”

What’s Driving These Changes in Classroom Learning?

Technology has certainly played a role in the changing classroom, simply because it provides more ways to teach the material. But, according to the teachers we interviewed, research was the central driver. Over time, studies have shown that a one-size-fits-all approach is not necessarily the best way to engage students and support retention. The teachers we interviewed agreed. One teacher noted, “Students remember things they want to know. So, by taking subject matter and allowing them to apply it in a way that is most meaningful to them, we achieve the same goal.”

The Impact on Continuing Education Professionals

For training and education professionals focused on adult learning and professional development, these changes in schools could have a major impact on curricula and certification assessments for future CE programs.  These young professionals will enter the workforce expecting their learning experiences to be delivered in a way that is consistent with their previous schooling. Now is a great time to start experimenting with small changes to existing programs to see what works best.

In a previous blog article, we provide some food for thought on how Generation Z might shape your organization’s continuing education programs.  Here are some other ideas to consider:

  1. Does all the learning have to take place during the course or in the classroom? Are there opportunities to provide real-world applications of the material within a certain timeframe that can then be used for a future assessment?
  2. Are your instructors capable of evolving their role from teacher to facilitator? Do they have the skills to adapt the material from the course book in creative and personalized ways?
  3. You’ll want to provide options for how your learners interact with an apply the course material, while keeping your workload and budget manageable. Can you achieve this by providing simple guidelines for your learners, while putting them in charge of how they want to learn?

While it’s impossible to predict the future, taking a glimpse into the K-12 classroom certainly provides some indications of how principles of adult learning will continue to evolve. Each organization will have to determine the best way to adapt in order to achieve program goals in a way that realistically aligns with resources.

Should Associations Take A Blended Classroom Approach to Instruction?

 

Blended learning first emerged as a buzzword for continuing education professionals more than a decade ago and continues to be considered among the top trends for continuing education programs because of its effectiveness for knowledge delivery and retention. As a result, many associations have implemented a blended learning strategy into their training programs, offering learners the opportunity to access education both in the classroom and through e-learning. Looking forward, there are indications that the conversation is starting to shift from blended learning to blended classroom, and associations may want to take note.

Blended Learning vs. Blended Classroom

Typically, the term “blended learning” is used to describe an approach to training that mixes traditional, classroom-based instruction with online learning modules outside the classroom.  While the use of e-learning tools is a way to extend the learning experience, this traditional approach to blended training may not go far enough to meet the needs of learners—particularly the emerging Generation Z. In response, some organizations, taking a cue from trends within the K-12 learning environment, are focusing on ways to blend multiple learning formats and technologies within a single classroom setting to meet the personalized needs of learners and provide deeper knowledge.

In the most common execution of blended learning, the only component that is truly “blended” is the subject matter. Although complementary, the in-person content is delivered separately, and often in a separate context, from the e-learning modules, which can lead to inconsistencies in both delivery and retention. Additionally, in the traditional approach to blended learning, the classroom content typically takes the form of a lecture, with little opportunity for in-field practical application.

Within a blended classroom, a learner may interact with printed materials, an LMS, mobile content and even virtual and augmented reality technology all as part of a single learning experience. E-learning is no longer a separate activity, but rather, it becomes integrated into the classroom, and vice-versa. The role of the in-person training becomes less about delivering fundamental principles, and more about facilitating a deeper understanding of how to apply the knowledge.

How does this play out in practice?  Here is one example: An instructor may introduce a broad concept using a printed coursebook, then have learners turn to a video or e-learning module to illustrate the concept. The instructor then may incorporate independent study time for participants to use AR and VR tools, e-learning simulations and printed workbook exercises to deliver personalized, hands-on application of the discussed concepts, followed up with group discussions to share experiences and ideas.

Consider a Blended Classroom Approach to Learning for Your Association

While blended learning is a major topic of conversation among adult continuing education and training professionals, the execution of a blended classroom is most commonly found in K-12 and even technical and trade school programs. Which is the very reason associations may want to start thinking about applying it into their continuing education programs. In a few short years, your newest (and youngest) members will be conditioned to expect it.

Embracing New Learning Trends: Are Associations Lagging Behind Corporations? Not Really.

 

In any organization, there are moments where leaders and team members stop and wonder how theirs compares to others in their industry. Are we really as far behind as we think? Are our challenges really that unique? How have others responded?  Most of the time, it turns out you’re not as far behind as you think, your challenges aren’t unique, and others are looking to you and asking the same questions. For associations, a question that may come up often is, “Are we implementing new training and learning trends for our members?”

All that being said, it can also be extremely beneficial to look outside your own industry to get an even better sense of what’s actually happening in a larger landscape and use that as your benchmark. For associations, this may mean looking outside your direct industry, or even taking a cue from the corporate world.

We recently had the benefit of sitting in on a webinar sponsored by Training Magazine and presented by Dr. Allen Partridge, Senior eLearning Evangelist with Adobe. In his session, Trends in Training and Learning Management, he reviewed a compilation of data from several different surveys of corporate continuing education professionals to identify learning trends and compare them to what these professionals are actually doing in practice. The webinar focused on concepts that are also prevalent topics of conversations within associations as well, including the rise of mobile learning, gamification, video, micro-learning, and learner engagement.

It turns out, while new ways to deliver learning are topics of frequent discussion, in practice, corporations aren’t any further along than associations. And, many of the tried-and-true methods of course delivery are still just as popular today. Here are four of the learning trends highlighted in the webinar.

Instructor-Led Training & Printed Course Materials

Despite the rise of virtual learning options, one survey revealed that 4 out of 5 respondents deliver training through in-person presentations—a trend that has remained consistent over the past the past ten years. The reason: when learning is a conversation, engagement and retention are higher. Additionally, nearly three quarters of survey takers said they use print materials to deliver their training, whereas only ten percent offer mobile and tablet-based materials.

Mobile Content

Speaking of mobile-based materials, although only ten percent currently offer mobile and tablet-based materials, there is an overwhelming sentiment that mobile-based learning is something most respondents acknowledged they need to do. Device versatility, ease of access to content and just-in-time reference to content were all noted as important criteria to have in place to encourage greater usage of digital training programs. But the time investment required to create mobile-friendly content was a major barrier. Many organizations are starting by creating only a fraction of content for mobile—particularly their newer content.

Microlearning

Based on the research, microlearning is considered to be the number one learning trends for training professionals in 2018. While implementation of this training strategy is growing, the buzz is still greater than reality. This is primarily due to the fact that there isn’t a clear and uniform definition of what microlearning means, and therefore, how it should best be executed. Some consider it to be “informal learning,” others “mobile learning” or even “short learning.” Each of these definitions serves a unique purpose and warrants its own strategy.

Gamification

While gamification is a major topic of discussion, corporate training professionals haven’t fully embraced this learning trend yet.  72% of respondents surveyed don’t use gamification in their learning programs, and only 14% feel very confident that gamification increases employee engagement in training. Some of the reluctance stems from the perceived cost of implementing it, coupled with the doubt that it actually drives behaviors that are sustainable for the long-term.

If your association has not fully embraced some of the top trends in training strategies and learning engagement, not to fear. Your corporate counterparts haven’t either. But they are starting to think about how to take small, deliberate steps toward implementation so they are ready to engage future learners—something every organization should be thinking about.

Get Your Training Courses Ready for Generation Z

For the past several years, a common theme around the strategy planning table is how to attract and retain younger members. With each passing year, this conversation is less about the long sought-after Millennials, however. The oldest of this generation is now in their mid-30’s. Many associations now have their sights set on the up-and-comers known as Generation Z. And what everyone is starting to realize is how different they appear to be from their predecessors.

Who is Generation Z?

Although there are some reported variances in the dates that define Generation Z, the general consensus is they were born between the mid-to-late 1990’s (roughly 1995) through the 2000’s (roughly 2010).

The eldest are in the process of graduating college and hitting the workforce, while the youngest are busy creating Google presentations, blogging and creating iMovies as part of their elementary school curriculum.

They are a very multi-cultural generation that is even larger than Boomers and Millennials. Today they represent over 25% of the U.S. population. And in just 5 years, they will represent approximately 20% of the workforce.

And, their overall outlook on life—their ambitions, goals, and the way they plan to achieve them—is the product of events and innovations that have completely changed even the world that Millennials knew. This is (potentially) a very different generation.

Turmoil and Technology Has Made Them Pragmatic, Entrepreneurial

A Non-Standard Path to Success

Generation Z felt the fallout from the Great Recession and has never known a world without terrorism. Unlike the so-called “entitled” Millennials, they understand that success isn’t guaranteed. They are prepared to work for it, and to make it their own.

  • They actively seek out opportunities to learn, develop and grow
  • They aren’t necessarily set on taking a linear path to success
  • They have a greater entrepreneurial drive than their predecessors, and have grown up in a world where they’ve seen (via social media) even their youngest peers have success with self-derived ventures
  • They are also more financially conservative than their predecessors

Beyond Tech Savvy

For Millennials, technology was very much present in their lives, but as a parallel activity, something to “play with” in their free time. Contrast this with Generation Z, where technology is fully integrated into everything they do. It has changed the model for how they interact with the world around them, how they learn and, most importantly, how they process information.

  • Where Millennials are the generation that shares content, Gen Z is the generation that creates it
  • In the classroom, a Gen Z student uses multiple platforms (including both print and digital) simultaneously to learn and reinforce a single concept, and often has the opportunity to choose how they want to learn
  • Thanks to DVRs, media streaming and 24/7 connectivity anywhere, the concept of appointment-based anything is fading fast

Social Media Maturity

For Gen Z, social media is no longer a new fad. It’s an established reality. And while it is the basis of a majority of their social connections, Gen Z is much more “mature” in their use of it than Millennials are.

  • Social connections matter even more to Gen Z more than to Millennials. They want to be culturally connected, and have a tremendous fear of missing out (a.k.a. “FOMO”)
  • At the same time, they are more conscientious of social media privacy, and tend to be drawn to more private forms of social interaction such as Snapchat, Secret and Whisper

How Gen Z Might Shape Your Association’s Educational Programs

Today many associations grapple with how to remain relevant at a time when access to free knowledge is just a click away. But there’s good news. Gen Z will find tremendous value in the growth opportunities that associations provide by increasing knowledge and facilitating connections. As long as you can adapt to their needs and meet them on their terms.

Here are 5 things to consider in your next program development and planning session:
1. Is there an opportunity to re-define the classroom setting, using unique and non-traditional locations as a means to help apply learning?

2. Is there an opportunity to develop sessions that allow attendees to co-create content as a means to facilitate learning and professional development?

3. How might you combine instructor-led training and self-guided learning as part of a single learning strategy (versus an either-or approach)?

4. How can you more effectively tie print and digital materials together in a complementary way? For instance, does it make sense to use print to introduce a complex topic, with digital tools such as video, interactive platforms, virtual and 4D technology to facilitate hands-on application of the concept?

5. In looking at your printed materials, how might you re-develop and re-design them to provide shorter pieces of content with more visual cues that support the text?

Although Millennials are still extremely relevant to associations, it won’t be long before all eyes are on Generation Z. How accurately can we predict future preferences based this current profile of a very young generation? It’s too soon to tell for sure. What is certain, however, is that, just as with Millennials, it won’t be long before we’re reevaluating and reconsidering today’s best practices. And it’s never too early to start planning ahead.

6 Reasons You Should Print Training Manuals on Demand

When you prepare to print training manuals for your association’s continuing education courses, do you struggle with choosing the number of initial copies to print? All the historical data in the world can’t ensure that you won’t waste time, money, or paper on books that no one will use. Choosing to print training manuals on demand, however, can solve these problems.

When you print training manuals on demand, you can rest assured that amount of that waste will be kept to a minimum. Here are six reasons to choose print-on-demand for your organization’s continuing education materials:

Update content easily

How long does content in your industry remain current? Some organizations can effectively use large print runs because the content in their training materials doesn’t change much year-to-year. For other organizations, particularly those in highly-regulated industries and in STEM, content is updated more frequently, meaning the potential for material waste increases.

Lower overhead costs

Start-up costs for large print runs can be prohibitive or, at the very least, frightfully expensive for some organizations. Print-on-demand requires a smaller initial investment, keeping overhead low. Having less of your budget tied up in printed materials also leaves you free to spend capital on other projects to improve your continuing education programs.

Reduce guesswork

Inventory management becomes easier when you keep a smaller number of books on the shelf. Print-on-demand solutions often create a micro-inventory that feeds orders as they come in, and more books are printed as needed. You’ll know exactly how many books you have in-stock, removing the guesswork from the process.

Minimize waste

When you keep a micro-inventory instead of a large quantity of books on the shelf, you reduce the risk of having to toss out hundreds of materials when content is updated or a class is canceled. And, even better, your organization is only charged for the number of books that were sold from your micro-inventory, saving you extra money.

Eliminate back-orders

Learners can get frustrated when they are unable to order materials they need for a class because you ordered too small of a print run initially. Using a print-on-demand model eliminates this scenario entirely, saving you from the trouble of dealing with back-ordered books.

Improve turnaround time

Even when dealing with the most experienced print vendors, large print runs require a certain amount of lead-time to complete. Print-on-demand requires less set up and fewer resources, making turnaround much faster.

No two organizations are the same—your reasons to print training manuals on demand may differ greatly from another organization’s. What is clear, however, is that print-on-demand works well for many organizations offering continuing education courses, and it might by the right choice for you, as well.

Optimize Your Courses for Millennials’ Unique Learning Style

 

Not too long ago, Millennials were the generation to plan for, the group of professionals who would someday be starting their careers and joining associations. Things have changed, however, as Millennials now make up a significant—and growing—portion of the workforce. As this generation looks to advance their careers, associations that offer continuing education opportunities tailored to meet their needs will be the resources that Millennials turn to.

It’s not enough to simply welcome this new generation into your existing courses. Technology has helped Millennials develop a different learning style than previous generations, and as a result, they expect your continuing education courses to meet these unique needs. Courses that blend traditional resources like workbooks and study guides with flipped classrooms, bite-sized learning and social media will be more likely to appeal to Millennials.

Flipped Classrooms

In the traditional classroom setting, an instructor introduces a concept during an in-person lecture. Students are then expected to complete assignments on their own to further their learning.

A flipped classroom reverses this approach. Students use study materials such as textbooks or online course content to learn new concepts ahead of time. Classroom time can then be used to discuss the material and allow students to participate in activities that reinforce those concepts. This method allows for more collaboration between students, and more individualized instruction for students who have questions about the material.

Blended Learning

Online training materials—particularly those accessible via a mobile device—offer students the convenience and flexibility to access materials any time they please. But this does not mean they are interested in forgoing printed materials completely. Instead, digital materials can be an effective supplement to traditional training materials.

As our Millennials and Training report shows, 59% of Millennials prefer printed materials when learning new concepts. Offering training materials in both print and online formats is the best way to accommodate Millennials’ diverse learning styles, and is key to helping them succeed in your courses.

Bite-sized Learning

Millennials want access to content when and where they prefer, and this applies to your educational content, as well. Structuring lessons into bite-sized or micro-learning segments can appeal to their shorter attention spans and make it easier to fit learning into their busy schedules.

Utilize short videos, small chapter sections and other more succinct lessons. Resource libraries are also good ways to allow learners to return to the material whenever they need to. The goal is to provide material in a convenient format that offers the flexibility of on-the-go access.

Collaboration

Social sharing and engagement should play a role in your continuing education courses, in-person and online. This generation thrives on networking and collaboration, so encouraging your learners to interact with their peers is an effective way for them to deepen their understanding of a topic.

Online collaborative learning may also be an option for your training courses. This allows learners to work together even when they may be geographically dispersed, creating an interactive online learning community.

Social Proof

Millennials often rely on the recommendations of their peers to help them make decisions. Not only do they consume these testimonials, but they also like to share their opinions with others. This phenomenon of peer recommendations is called social proof.

Offer Millennial learners the option to help spread the word about your training courses online through guest blogs, Facebook events and online reviews. They’ll appreciate the ability to share their opinion, and you may see an increase in enrollment as a result.

Gamification

Incorporating game-like features into your learning materials, both inside the classroom and out, can increase learners’ engagement. Consider adding incentives, rewards or leaderboards to online training materials and try to incorporate competitive aspects to in-class scenarios and challenges to “gamify” their education.

Credentialing

If your course provides learners with a certificate or something similar to recognize course completion, consider utilizing technology to better apply this to your digital natives. Provide Millennials with a digital credential, or online badge, they can display on social media sites like LinkedIn.

Millennials will be able to show off their industry-specific skill set and accomplishments while your organization benefits from word-of-mouth advertising within their networks.

Fine-Tune a Training Program for Your New Generation’s Learning Style

It’s important to recognize how Millennials’ unique learning style differs from those of previous generations. Associations that are able to structure their training courses to include blended learning, bite-sized materials and offer engaging, collaborative approaches will become the resources Millennials turn to as their careers’ progress.

How Social Proof Can Increase Enrollment In Your Training Courses

 

Social media offers many new and innovative ways to promote your training courses online, but it also excels in one of the oldest: recommendations from a learner’s peers. Of course, in the online world, everything needs a buzzword, and in this case, “peer recommendations” is now known as “social proof”

Social proof is a simple concept: people trust the recommendations of their friends and peers more than they trust traditional advertising. Leveraging these recommendations is a great way to expand visibility, increase enrollment and validate people’s confidence in your continuing education courses.


Social proof can be a powerful addition to your overall marketing strategy, and who better to leverage for these positive testimonials than your current learners? Oftentimes though, your learners would be willing to share their thoughts about your course but aren’t sure how to do it, so while in the classroom, let them know that you’d appreciate the feedback and explain how they can help advocate for your continuing education courses online. Here are just a few of the ways your current learners can help become advocates for your courses online.

Write a guest blog article

Have a current learner write a guest blog post about their experience in your training course. They can share their key takeaways from the course or any tips they’d like to pass along. This is a great way for future learners to get a first-hand look at what it’s like to take your course.

Social proof: Guest blogs give a personalized account of your training that a potential learner can identify with and see if they’d be interested in taking it themselves.

Provide a case study

Interview a current learner and use the information you collect to create a case study about their continuing education experience. Ask about their impressions of the course and the instructor, as well as how they plan to use the knowledge they acquired through taking the course. Make sure to follow up with that student to see how the information they learned has helped them in their career. These case studies can be posted on your website or blog.

Social proof: A case study can be an effective way to increase enrollment in your courses by showing specific examples of how the knowledge from your training courses can lead to a better career.

Share on social media

Learners can share their experiences or interesting facts presented in class on social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter during breaks or before and after class. Then, your organization can share or retweet the posts as a quick testimonial.

Social proof: Social media posts help show the learner’s friends and colleagues that they are advancing their careers, which can help inspire their peers to do so, too.

Create Facebook events

If you’ve set up Facebook events for your future continuing education courses, your learner-turned-advocate can personally share and invite their friends who might be interested in taking a course.

Social proof: The invitation from the learner themselves will serve as a personal recommendation rather than an advertisement. Facebook event invites can also create a sense of community before the class even begins.

Leave an online recommendation

Whether it’s on your organization’s Facebook page or your website, positive reviews speak volumes. Ask your trainees to leave reviews sharing their experiences and recommendations online. This is something you can ask all of your learners to do after the course is over to gather more testimonials and boost your brand.

Social proof: Reviews increase the confidence in the value you provide through real-life feedback from actual learners.

In the world of social media, social proof goes a long way and can increase both the awareness and positive reception of your organization. If current learners are willing to share their experiences online, both future learners and your organization can benefit.

 

If you are interested in learning about other ways your organization can spread the word about your training courses and increase enrollment using social media, download our free whitepaper, “Promote your Training Courses with Content Marketing.”

 

 

Instructor-Led Training: Is It Still the Delivery Method of Choice for Continuing Education?

As technology continues to expand into more areas of our lives, some in the continuing education field have predicted the move from in-person, instructor-led training to an on-demand, digital approach. As we talk with customers and other CE professionals about the future of the field, however, we realized something: while the trend has been predicted for years, we’ve seen very little abandonment of instructor-led training.

Rather than a complete switch from instructor-led training (ILT) to digital learning, continuing education courses often include both in-classroom and digital training. Trainers and educators are now offering more options for learners to consume their educational materials how, when and where they please.

We turned to ATD’s State of the Industry Report, as well as our very own State of the Continuing Education Industry Report, for the data to support these conclusions.

Instructor-Led Training Still Leads the Way

Although there has been a slight decline in instructor-led training in recent years, it’s not declining nearly as fast as some association professionals had anticipated. From 2012 to 2015, the percentage of instructor-led training courses declined by 7%. That’s only a 1.75% decline on average each year. At this rate, ILT will still be the most popular way for organizations to deliver training for approximately another decade (2026).

Dan Loomis, Omnipress Director of Training and Publications, said, “With the popularity of digital and mobile formats emerging in the continuing education industry, I was surprised to see that instructor-led training isn’t declining as fast as some believed it would. It’s pretty clear that ILT is still an essential part of the learning process, and will be for years.”

A Workforce of Traditional Learners

Most of today’s workforce was educated in a classroom with an instructor and printed materials. Even those entering the workforce more recently, like Millennials and Gen Z, did a majority of their learning in the classroom, despite having digital materials and the internet at their ready.

As one Millennial told us during our Millennials & Print study:

“I think that, when it comes to educational materials, I will always favor print over digital. While we (Millennials) are the first generation to ‘grow up’ with technology, the technology we grew up with is completely different than it is today and it was used in completely different ways. I had access to a computer both at home and school, but in elementary school it was used to learn to type. In middle school it was used to learn Word and Excel. In high school, it was used for research and writing papers. I wasn’t reading textbooks online, I wasn’t taking class notes on a laptop. The first iPad was introduced in my sophomore year of college and I didn’t purchase one until I graduated. While it is possible to highlight and markup materials digitally on an iPad, it was never part of my educational life—I didn’t learn to learn on one.”

-Emily Wiseman; Director of Administration at Association Management Partners & Executive Directors, Inc.

So, as more Millennials join your organization and attend continuing education courses, many still expect instructor-led courses rather an online-only environment.

Flipping the Classroom to Use In-Person Learning Time Efficiently

It’s clear that instructor-led training remains a significant component of the continuing education experience, albeit not the only part. Since ILT is so valuable, your organization should focus on how you’re using classroom time to make the most of it. One way you can capitalize on in-person training is through the “flipped classroom” method.

“Flipping the classroom” is a popular idea often used in higher education. The concept essentially flips the “traditional” method of teaching in order to better use the students’ classroom time and enhance their understanding of the material.

In the traditional teaching model, an instructor will introduce a new concept in class, typically through an in-person lecture. The students will then take time outside of class to complete activities to reinforce the new ideas on their own.

In a flipped classroom, students take time to learn a new concept outside of the classroom; this can be done through textbook reading, a recorded lecture or many other forms. Then, when students meet in class with an instructor, their time is devoted to interactive group learning. This way, instructors can work one-on-one with learners to further explain course concepts, answer questions and help students solve problems in groups or to apply the new information to real-world situations.

Flipping the classroom combines instructor-led training and digital course materials to deepen your learner’s understanding, help them improve retention, and use class time efficiently.

While it’s safe to say that learners expect more options for how they receive continuing educational materials, it’s also clear that instructor-led training is still a major part of the training experience. Help bridge the gap between generations of learners by offering multiple ways to access materials and effectively use time spent in the classroom.

Note: This is an update of an earlier article that was published in April 2016.

This is One of the Principles of Teaching Adults You Must Keep in Mind

 

Anyone that has stood in front of a classroom knows that there is a big difference between teaching adults and teaching children. Aside from a lack of note passing and paper airplane throwing, adult learners come into your training courses with a specific goal in mind; after all, something motivated them to enroll in your course.

Recognizing your learners’ goals is such an important part of adult education that Malcolm Knowles—the leading voice in the study of adult learning—notes this as the first of his five principles of teaching adults. And it makes sense: By harnessing this embedded desire to achieve, you can steer your students’ motivation and lead them to a positive learning experience.

That means part of your role when designing a course is to make sure learners see exactly how the course can help them achieve their goals and then provide a framework that allows them to achieve them.

Show your learners what they can expect

When starting a new course, it is important that learners see how the in-class lessons will help them reach their goals. Make sure it’s clear from the onset what they can expect to achieve by completing your training course. Once you know their motivations, you can design your course to preview the outcomes they can expect to see once they complete it.

Right off the bat, your course should demonstrate to your adult learners how the content will be relevant and applicable to their lives and careers. Talking about goals and how your course can help learners reach them creates buy-in and can improve engagement.

Include course elements that fit your learners’ goals

When you think through the goals and motivations of your adult learners, you can use the principles of teaching adults to design a course that helps them learn and grow in their desired ways. It’s also important to think about how your learners’ will use this knowledge after completing your course. What kinds of outcomes do you want to see in your graduates?

This will help you include different course elements that more appropriately engage your learners and help them meet their goals. Depending on how the training concepts will be used, some course aspects will be more relevant than others.

For example, if a learner is taking a certification course in food safety and needs to know the rules and regulations surrounding that topic, ending the course with a quiz is an important step to test their knowledge and ensure they understand the material.

However, for a learner who wants to grow as a professional in a leadership course, a multiple choice test will probably not benefit them much. Instead, your leadership class could participate in a role-playing scenario in which they put their new-found leadership skills to the test.

Keeping your adult learner’s motivations in mind is one of the most important principles of teaching adults. If you structure the elements of your course with this principle in mind, you’ll be helping learners achieve their goals and stay motivated to successfully complete the course.

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