Some New Program’s Resolutions for 2018

 

Every January we resolve to do things differently in the New Year. We make resolutions to get more exercise, eat more vegetables or drink less coffee. But sure enough, by the time the calendar turns to February, we settle back into our day to day routine, and our well-intentioned goals are brushed aside.

I hear similar stories from customers about setting goals for their new programs, as well. Instead of changing behaviors around personal health, the focus is on improving their educational offerings. You too may have set goals to expand your courses internationally, offer more content online or develop training on new regulations. Then, just like a personal resolution, the reality of the day-to-day routine takes over and you find yourself back to working harder, not smarter.

Probably the most common goal that is set aside when developing a new program is improving the branding of the course materials. That’s unfortunate because ensuring your course materials offer a positive first impression can have a dramatic influence on how learners’ receive your new program.

This year, resolve to use these three elements of branding to improve your program launch:

Cross Promotion

Leverage your existing marketing materials in a new way. Bundle a promotional flyer for your new program with the materials that learners purchase for your other courses. This is a great way to let your members know about your new offering.

Design

Create a cohesive look and feel to the course materials you offer by using consistent colors and fonts across all your materials. Using your logo on the cover also helps establish your brand as a recognizable learning resource.

Packaging

Presentation is an important part of establishing a positive first impression. Have you considered an eye-catching box or high-quality case to help create a professional appearance for your materials? If you are sending multiple items to each participant, think about kitting the items together in a beautifully assembled package.

Launching a new program is a lot like flipping the calendar to start a new year: Even the best intentions but can get overwhelmed once reality sets in. Resolve to make these simple improvements to the branding of your course materials and make 2018 the year you keep your New Program’s resolutions.

 

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.

Infographic: Spring Cleaning for your Course Materials

Spring-cleaning season is here! It’s time to open the windows, pack up the coat closet and… dust off your continuing education materials?!? That’s right, now is the perfect time to take a look at your on-hand inventory of course materials and refresh any items that don’t make the grade.

We’ve created a handy checklist of tasks to help you get into the spring cleaning spirit. Take a look at the image below for ideas on where to begin your spring content refresh!

 

 

Infographic Text

Spring Cleaning for your Course Materials

Examine your older materials to see if they are ready for updated content

Freshen outdated course materials by combining relevant chapters from multiple titles

Recycle chapters of training manuals into educational videos or blog posts

Organize your storage area to maximize space

Polish up your existing materials by designing a new cover

Donate old books to members as promotional giveaway items

When you’re ready to make your training materials look their best, talk to Omnipress! Our team of career professionals can help you find new ways to enhance the look and usability of your course content.

Start a conversation: justask@omnipress.com

Training and Development Talk: Microlearning 101

The way people learn is changing, which means that the way continuing education programs approach their courses should be, too. A lengthy lecture followed by homework, with little opportunity for student interaction and discussion, is no longer considered to be the best choice for deep, lasting training and development to take place.

Our attention spans are shorter than they used to be, especially (but not exclusively) among Millennials. Also known as Generation Y, these young professionals (born approximately 1982-2004) grew up alongside the internet. Answers were readily available online and their patience for information is notoriously thin.

To adapt to this change, a new approach to teaching and learning has sprung up. Microlearning breaks down lessons and concepts into bite-sized pieces of four minutes or less. Hallmarks of this technique include very narrow learning objectives (only one per “chunk” of content) and frequent, mini-quizzes to test retention.

Printed course books can accompany classes that make use of microlearning practices, but supplemental online resources are another option. Blended learning enhances microlearning—instructors can take complex concepts they learn through a standard lecture or reading in a textbook and break it up into smaller components online. Video is also a particularly good format to use in this type of training and development situation.

Many associations offer face-to-face, instructor-led training, though some are also exploring online delivery of content and self-study. No matter how you offer training to your learners, microlearning can be incorporated.

Are you ready to try microlearning to supplement your training and development programs? Start by bouncing your ideas off of someone with an outside perspective who can offer suggestions for content delivery. Reach out to me or leave a comment below to get the conversation started!

Print on Demand Checklist: Is POD Right for You?

Here’s the scenario: Your continuing education materials are print-ready. Instructors are ready to go and learners from your association are already signed up for the new course. Everyone involved is excited to get started.

It’s time to decide: How many books should you print? Is it better to choose a large print run or produce books as they are ordered?

Print on Demand (POD) means that printed materials are produced on an as-needed basis. The opposite of POD is a large print run, where hundreds or thousands of books are produced at one time, in the hopes that someone will purchase them. The per-unit price is lower with large print runs, but producing more inventory than you might need can lead to waste and a need for a large warehouse space.

Is POD right for your organization? Consider these questions:

  • How many learners do you expect will enroll for the course? The higher enrollment is, the more likely it is that a larger print run will work. If you’re unsure, POD is the smarter choice.
  • How often does content need to be updated? Associations that operates in an industry with frequent changes driven by legislation or credentialing requirements are best served by POD because changes can be made before new volumes are printed.
  • Do you have room (in a warehouse or your office space) to house books from a larger print run? Which is more cost-efficient for your association: Doing a large print run and then having to give up office space (or, worse, renting warehouse space) to handle the inventory, or printing fewer copies and not having to worry about creating space for extras?
  • Are you confident that your printer can turn around new orders quickly? If you print on demand, but your provider doesn’t take the time to respond to requests in a timely matter, that has a negative impact on your association’s reputation. Alternatively, would your printer be willing to house a few extra copies of each title on your behalf, to fill orders easily (known as a microinventory)? While not true print on demand, using a microinventory is more efficient than POD and less wasteful than large print runs.

One question that might have been included in the checklist a few years ago—are you willing to compromise on quality? Print on demand has a bad reputation of creating a poor product, but the technology has improved to the point where it’s difficult to tell the difference between a book produced through POD from one that was part of an offset print run.

POD is considered by some to be friendlier to the environment than long print runs. It can be more cost-efficient, too. If you produce 500 books and content needs to be changed when half still sit on the warehouse shelf, 250 books will go to waste. The per-unit price break you got for a large print run becomes a moot point.

Looking through the questions on the checklist, did you determine that your organization should consider POD? We should talk! Check out print on demand page on our website and contact us to get the conversation started.

Spring Training for Your Course Books

Every spring, professional baseball players come out of hibernation (or, wherever they spend the off-season) and head to a sunny locale to whip themselves back into shape. Even the most dedicated athlete on the team likely has a few cobwebs to shake off his technique, and spring training is the time and place to get it done.

What does this have to do with your continuing education program? Spring can be a time to refresh and reinvent for you, too. Take a close look at your course books. Are they looking a little tired? Is it time to whip them back into shape?

Rebranding your continuing education materials is easier than you think. Half the battle is making the decision to do it and finding the right provider to guide you through the transition.

The National Retail Federation Foundation (NRFF) gave their materials a fresh face, with revised, streamlined content and a new look. The new course books are a big hit with instructors and helped the staff feel more comfortable marketing the program.

Looking for similar results with your materials? Read NRFF’s story, and if you’re ready to take your course books through spring training, give us a call!

Training & Development Talk: Finding the Perfect (Print & Fulfillment) Partner

Finding the right industry partner can be tricky. Don’t you wish there were a Match.com or Tinder for meeting your perfect partner to satisfy your business needs and solve difficult challenges?

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy; you have to do a little shopping. Suppose you’re looking for a new print and fulfillment provider to address ongoing order accuracy issues. You put together an RFP and send it out to the masses to collect information and get pricing.

But finding the right industry partner is more than just completing a checklist. The RFP process doesn’t lend itself to learning about a company’s culture and fit, and that means not every potential match that looks good on an RFP will work out.

Even if a provider produces a quality product and meets your budget requirements, they might not be the right fit. If something unexpected comes up that changes the parameters of your project, will they be willing to adapt? Or will a customer service frustration, like lack of responsiveness, leave you feeling like a small fish in a big pond?

Deciding on a future partnership isn’t just swipe left or swipe right and you’re done. Your provider should give you the kind of service and attention that proves you’re special to them. Ask yourself: Is your organization treated like an important customer with specific needs? Do you get individualized attention? When issues arise, are they resolved in a timely fashion, professionally and with the utmost care for your brand?

Relationships are so important that a whole day this month—February 14th—is dedicated to celebrating them. Business partnerships deserve the same kind of consideration. Think about the long-term potential of a relationship with your print and fulfillment vendor. Take the time upfront to make sure it’s the right fit.

So what do you say? Are you ready to go on a first date with Omnipress? Contact us to make the arrangements. We look forward to getting to know your organization better.

5 Key Statistics about Millennials & Training

As of late 2015, Millennials make up about one-third of the American workforce, surpassing both Baby Boomers and Generation X. These young professionals (age 18-34) have never known a world without the internet. What role—if any—do printed educational materials play in their lives? Do they want all digital content all the time?

We wanted to know, so we conducted a survey of 548 Millennials (22-33 years old) about their views on educational materials. For a quick snapshot of the results, take a look at the five key statistics below!

  1. 50% prefer print when reading something they need to learn. Compare that with just 18% who chose digital. Scientific research that suggests reading printed materials leads to better retention, and young professionals also prefer this method.
  2. 59% agree: “It is easier for me to learn from printed materials.” When learners enroll in continuing education courses, they want to come away with new skills to help them advance in their careers. The format used to present new concepts shouldn’t create a barrier. Course participants want to gain new knowledge as quickly and easily as possible, and according to their answers, printed materials make it happen.
  3. 58% agree: “Printed materials are better for reference.” After the coursework is completed, learners will need to look back at the materials for reference. Despite the great strides digital materials have made in creating a better search and reading experience for users, over half of the young professionals we surveyed agreed that printed materials make for better references.
  4. 86% agree: “The world is more connect than ever, but I think there’s still a place for printed materials.” Millennials seem to understand when to use digital sources and printed materials. They see a place for both and use their best judgment for which format is the best choice in different situations. As one participant said, “We can have both; it’s not a war.”
  5. 64% agree: “I will never stop reading printed educational materials.” Think that all young professionals want is online training materials? Not true! Even though they grew up with the internet always available, they understand the value of printed materials for learning and reference.


For more results from the survey, read the full report. Leave a comment to let us know what you think!

Is Your Continuing Education Program Ready for Generation Z?

 

Generation Z? What Happened to the Millennials? Those game-changing Gen Y youth who have been the subject of so much research and speculation have now hit the ripe old age of 30-ish. They have begun to settle into careers and families, and although they are the first true digital natives, they have proven to be a lesser disruptor than initially anticipated. (Case in point: read the Millennials & Training whitepaper.) That torch has been passed along to the next generation—Generation Z.

Who is Generation Z?

Although there are some reported variances in the dates that define Generation Z (also known in some circles as iGen—thank you, Steve Jobs), generally they are the children of Gen Xers—born between the mid-to-late 1990’s (roughly 1995) through the 2000’s (roughly 2010).

The eldest (around 20) are soon to be graduating college and hitting the workforce, while the youngest (around 6) are busy creating Google presentations, blogging and documenting prairie burns via iMovie as part of their first-grade curriculum.

They are the largest generation—larger than the Boomers and larger than the Millennials. Today they represent over 25% of the U.S. population. And in just 5 years, they will represent approximately 20% of the workforce.

They are also the most multi-cultural generation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there has been a 50% increase in the multi-racial youth population since 2000.

They are the product of events and innovations that have completely changed even the world that Millennials knew. This is (potentially) a very different generation.

A Pragmatic, Entrepreneurial, Connected Group Defined by Turmoil and Technology

Generation Z has never known a world without terrorism. They witnessed the fallout from the Great Recession. 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 are looking for stability and growth in their careers and actively seek out opportunities to learn, develop and grow.
  • Because their lives were terribly disrupted early on, 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

While Millennials were considered to be the first digital natives, Gen Z are mobile natives. Technology isn’t just present in their lives, it 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 Gen Y is the generation that shares content, Gen Z is the generation that creates it.
  • They are the ultimate self-educators, particularly when it comes to technology, as they have already seen how quickly it can become obsolete.
  • 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.
  • While it appears that their attention spans are getting shorter, early research suggests it may be a reflection of the fact that they have developed the ability to process more information at faster speeds.

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.
  • 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 Training & Education Programs?

Today, many organizations grapple with how to develop new and innovative programs that attract participants and facilitate greater learning. Looking to the future, there is good news. Gen Z will find tremendous value in the growth opportunities that come with increased skills and knowledge… as long as you can adapt to their needs and meet them on their terms. Their current learning preferences coupled with their techno-behaviors may force continuing education professionals to develop unconventional learning delivery models.

Here are 4 things to consider in your next program planning session:

  1. Would it make sense to develop a program delivery model that is even more accessible and self-directed, allowing learners to learn on their terms, when and where it’s convenient for them—any hour, any place? At the same time, might your new program build in opportunities for more virtually-based social connection and collaboration with peers and with instructors, locally and across the globe? Could this social connection continue after the training session is complete, to help reduce any “learning loss” that may normally occur?
  1. Is there an opportunity to develop curricula that allow attendees to co-create content (versus having all materials pre-produced and pre-distributed) as a means to facilitate learning?
  1. How might you incorporate new technologies across multiple platforms to teach and reinforce a particular concept, including print, video, interactive tools, virtual and 4D technology? Could you use a printed piece to introduce a concept, and then offer multiple ways to conduct a more in-depth, hands-on exploration of the concept?
  1. Do you need to take a closer look at your current training materials and course books and determine if there are opportunities to restructure and redesign them to provide shorter blocks of information with more visual cues that support the text?

Although the needs and preferences of Millennials are still extremely relevant—soon they will make up a large majority of the workforce—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.

2016 State of the Continuing Education Industry [Infographic]

Have you read our 2016 State of the Continuing Education Industry yet? If you haven’t had a chance yet, this infographic will give you a good summary of the results. What do you think? Does your continuing education program face the same issues?

Read the white paper to get the full report. Leave us a comment below! We’d love to hear what you think.2016SOIRCE-Infgraphic

The State of Continuing Education Content: Results of the 2016 Survey of CE Professionals

The outlook for the continuing education (CE) and training market is extremely strong, with both spending and demand expected to increase fairly consistently over the next several years, causing many organizations to increase the number of educational programs they intend to deliver in 2016. At the same time, participant expectations are changing as tech-based learning options become more accessible. What impact will this have on those responsible for developing and implementing educational programs? What challenges will they face in 2016 and beyond?

We conducted an online survey of 90 continuing education and training professionals to understand the current state of CE content, key challenges, and how organizations are preparing for the future.

Insight #1: More than half of respondents are planning to deliver more programs this year, with little to no increase in budget.

Fifty-two percent of those surveyed expected the number of training programs to increase slightly or significantly, while only thirty-two percent anticipated an increase in budget. This will likely present challenges for training professionals, particularly as they also plan to increase the breadth of content formats offered to learners providing a greater blend of print, digital, and mobile, and with it, increased choice for learners.

What other insights did organizations provide about current and future challenges facing CE professionals? Read the full report here, and let us know what you think.

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