Guest contributor: Julie Stelter, president Walden Group
Building a successful association eLearning program takes a team committed to designing and developing top-notch learning experiences for its members. A successful educational program is supported by many key players. Through a series of blog posts, we will take a closer look at who is instrumental in launching an eLearning program and the skill sets they need to succeed. Let’s start with identifying the vital role of the Education Director.
Education Director – Team Champion
A successful program begins with a team champion. Education Director, Professional Development Coordinator, Learning Specialist are just some of the titles for this work. No matter what title is used, they are the key to the association’s success. You know who the champion is because they are…
- Willing to go before the board to garner support and set realistic expectations.
- Senior Staff who can direct resources and support the work of others on the team.
- Able to manage consultants, vendors and subject-matter experts (SMEs) to get projects finished.
Look for these skills in your team champion.
#1 Formally Trained Professional
The champion usually celebrates their formal training with undergrad or graduate degrees. These Champions know how to write an objective, create a curriculum and formulate an assessment. They know the difference between andragogy and pedagogy. Their office walls are filled with charts of Bloom’s Taxonomy, infographics on Conrad Gottfredson’s Five Moments of Need ©, and quotes from Albert Einstein. I’m one of those. So I can fairly say, that these professionals are golden to an organization. But don’t overlook the Champion who has honed educational knowledge in the trenches. And I don’t mean a high school math classroom. Again me.
#2 Natural-born Teacher
You know the type, the natural-born teacher gives excellent workshops, inspiring lectures or writes thought-provoking articles and majored in Civil Engineering. They approach instructional tasks with ease because they have outstanding educational instincts. Match this person up with an instructional designer and you have a powerful duo!
#3 Industry Experience and Credibility
The champion also has industry credibility, connections, and even more desirable, industry knowledge. This experience is priceless for two key roles: Narrowing the curriculum and corralling the SMEs
For narrowing the curriculum, strategizing on which courses to develop first will take a heavy amount of industry knowledge. The champion will begin by researching the educational needs of association members, as well as other stakeholders such as employers, consumers, government agencies, insurance companies and the legal community. The champion needs to collect all of this information and make program design decisions that are best for all stakeholders, and for the association itself.
For corralling the SMEs, we will talk more about this skill set when we look specifically at SMEs. For now let’s just say that having a champion with industry credibility helps prevent many problems with SMEs.
Does this person exist?
By now you might be thinking…this person doesn’t exist. They do because I have worked with a number of them. It is possible though that on a small staff, the Education Director position doesn’t exist. The role of the champion then may be filled by the Executive Director, Director of Development or Program Manager. The skills and attributes listed above may even be divided between two people. In this situation, be careful that the eLearning project is scaled to match the capacity of the champions and that these two people work together seamlessly.
Who is your association’s eLearning champion? What skills do they bring to the project? Are they missing some attributes? How can the association strengthen the champion?
Guest contributor: Julie Stelter is the President of Walden Group, where we believe that education is a life-long journey. Julie works with association clients to design and develop meaningful and profitable education programs.
If you liked this blog, visit waldengroup.net for more great information and to find out how we can help your organization.