Continuing education and eLearning is already big – and it’s getting bigger.
Market research firm Global Industry Analysts projected several years ago that the North American eLearning market would top $107 Billion by 2015 – and it did. Now, industry experts predict the market will triple to more than $300 Billion by 2025.
While this rapid growth is good news for trainers and educators, it also represents a challenge. Consumers of eLearning will have many more options to choose from, which means an already competitive market will become even more so as learners become more discriminating about which courses they will invest time and money into.
Some industry experts warn that in this environment, concentrating on content and information delivery will not be enough to remain competitive.
“From organizations who deliver online training, to entrepreneurs who want to sell workshops or courses, the value proposition the market demands is not information, but transformation,” says Tracy King, CAE, CEO & Chief Learning Strategist for InspirEd, a consulting firm that develops strategies for the continuing education market. “Clients and prospects want to be or do something different, better, smarter, faster. And you must craft experiences that deliver that transformation.”
King is the award-winning author of Competitive Advantage: Create Continuing Education That is Profitable, Sustainable, and Impactful. Speaking from her more than twenty years of experience in the education industry serving academic, corporate and professional association markets, King is convinced that information does not deliver transformation; in fact, she believes that too much information can hurt rather than help.
“A lot of people think that compiling a ton of information into a ‘course’ format will be considered valuable and will make them some quick cash,” King says. “But the learning sciences tell us that giving too much information is like asking people to drink from a firehouse – it only overwhelms them.”
According to King, content overload actually decreases learning because it makes it harder for learners to process and integrate new knowledge and skills. She recommends program creators ask themselves three fundamental questions to avoid information overload and design transformative learning experiences that make a difference.
1) Who? King likes to begin with the learner in mind and really get inside their heart and head. “Who are you designing the experience for? Where are they in relation to the content? How would they articulate the issue this learning experience could resolve for them?” King suggests using the learner’s language to clearly communicate outcomes and trigger a “Yes, this is for me!” response.
2) Why? “What is the result you will deliver with this learning, and why should users care?” King asks. She recommends focusing on a specific problem or challenge the learner wants to solve. “What specific knowledge or skill gap will the course address? What overall transformation will you offer learners?”
3) What? King says this comes down to deciding how to structure the content so it connects what the learner wants to do with what the learner already knows, bridging the gap. “Once you know who the learner is and why they will invest their time and resources to solve their challenge with you, you are prepared to design the what,” she says. “What does the learner need to know and do to gain the result promised?” King recommends thinking about how to create opportunities to personalize and practice new skills and behaviors, how to offer feedback, and what take-aways learners will need to perfect their practice.
“Tracy King challenges us to think in new directions, helping us innovate from good to great so we remain competitive in our market,” says Maria Huntley, CAE, Executive Director of the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians. “We’ve called on Tracy to facilitate with both our education team and volunteer leaders, creating actionable insights we can implement in the coming year. We’re excited for what’s next! If you’re ready to level up, you need to work with Tracy.”
King believes that given the current explosive growth of eLearning, subject matter expertise alone will not be enough for learners. “The market demands results, and programs that pivot from informational to transformational will seize the competitive advantage,” King says. “Learning design is not just something that’s nice-to-have – it is your linchpin, the market differentiator that elevates your value proposition among your competitors.”
Tracy King is CEO & Chief Learning Strategist for InspirEd, leveraging her more than 20 years in the adult learning industry consulting with organizations on education strategy and learning design. She is the author of Competitive Advantage, and she advises associations on how to grow reliably profitable and sustainable CE programs that transform learners.
To get a copy of King’s award-winning book Competitive Advantage, or to learn more about consulting and coaching opportunities with Tracy King, visit inspired-ed.com.