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.

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

How we deliver continuing education is changing because our understanding of how people learn best is changing. And no place demonstrates this best than the K-12 classroom.  The school-aged learners of today will soon be the adult learners of tomorrow. Their experiences in the school classroom will shape their expectations for professional development programs in the future.  Is your program ready?

Five Fundamental Shifts in Classroom Learning

We interviewed four long-time K-12 teachers from different school districts to discuss how and why the classroom has changed. All four teachers identified the same five themes present in today’s educational environment.

1. More flexibility in curricula delivery

All our teachers remembered a day early in their careers when a textbook served as the class curriculum.  Lessons came directly from the book. As one teacher notes, the learning was  “spoon-fed” to students. And there was a moderate amount of hands-on or group activities to enhance the lesson.

Today, curricula are much more generalized. Teachers work within guidelines that determine what material is covered and what skills should be developed.  But it is up to the teacher on how they want to deliver the material. As a result, teachers have 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. Teachers are ditching the standard vocab tests. Instead, they’re using the same the same strategies that have helped us all learn our first language. Students are actively 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 were pretty siloed in our own classroom. But today there’s a lot more collaboration happening in teaching through at-school teams and virtual connections. We spend more time exchanging ideas with peers so we understand what’s already been tried and refined before we bring it to our classroom. We’re all figuring this out together.”

2. Teacher and student roles have changed

With the migration away from a rigid 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. This means the students have more accountability, as they play a more active role in their own learning.

3. Students have a voice in their own learning

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

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 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 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.”

4. 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 a 1:1 ratio of student-to-device, while others supply devices for classroom use. These devices provide a personalized approach to learning. Math apps, for instance, allow the learner to follow a self-guided path based on their current level of proficiency.

5. Assessments have changed

Historically, tests and other learning assessments have been recall-based. The goal was to know if the student remembers what was taught. But some school districts have started to recognize this does not reflect whether the student comprehends the material. Testing methods are evolving 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 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 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 the 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 Programs

For training professionals focused on adult learning and professional development, these changes in schools could have a major impact on curricula and certification assessments for future continuing education 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 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 continuing education programs 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.

Focus on These 12 Traits for Effective Adult Learning

The process of teaching adults is very different than teaching children. Even if the skills and subject matter are new, adults bring their experiences, perceptions, and prejudices into the classroom–whether or not they realize it. To design an effective adult learning curriculum, it’s important to understand the 12 traits that make adult participants unique.

The Theory of Adult Learning

20th century educator Malcolm Knowles is credited for bringing the theory of andragogy, or the process by which adults learn, to the forefront of educational science. This theory rests on five assumptions about adults as learners:

  1. Self-concept: Adults move from being dependent on others to self-direction as they mature.
  2. Experience: Adults gain experience as they grow that, in turn, becomes a valuable tool in learning.
  3. Readiness to learn: The priorities of adults shift as they begin to increasingly value and are therefore more ready to learn about his or her role in society.
  4. Orientation to learning: Adults change their perspectives on learning as they grow, moving from procrastination to immediate application and from subject interest to problem-solving.
  5. Motivation to learn: Adults move from extrinsic towards intrinsic motivation as they grow and mature.

As part of his theory, Knowles also provided suggestions for how to put these assumptions into practice in the classroom to improve learning outcomes.

These 12 traits and the resulting strategies to engage adult learners are summarized in the following infographic.


Profile of an Adult Learner


Transcript of the infographic

Profile of an Adult Learner

Put adult learning theory to work in your next course! Create an effective learning environment by understanding Malcolm Knowles’ concept of Andragogy and the unique needs of teaching adults.


an·dra·go·gy noun: andragogy; plural noun: andragogies
the method and practice of teaching adult learners; adult education.

Profile of Adult Learners

Adults Bring

  • Prior experience and knowledge to the classroom
  • Preferences and prejudices that may need to be overcome

Adults Enjoy

  • Solving problems
  • Active learning
  • Small group exercises
  • Moving around the room

Adults Expect To

  • Use the concepts they learn immediately
  • Be respected in the classroom

Adults Need To

  • Know why a concept is important
  • Feel like an active part of the learning process
  • Learn at their own speed
  • Receive feedback and constructive criticism

Strategies for Effective Adult Learning

Action Learning

Allow participants to work in small groups on a real project. Diversity of the group is critical to the learning process.

Experiential Learning

Give attendees the opportunity to set goals, plan and turn decisions into action. Follow up with time to review and reflect on the outcomes.

Project Based Learning

Create real-life scenarios for learners to solve that relate to their actual work environment. Promote teamwork by encouraging students to work in groups.

Self-Directed Learning

Encourage students to integrate learning into their daily routine. Teach learners to determine their own learning needs and identify positive outcomes.


Skip to content Top