To the Point

Do Your Educational Offerings Resonate With Your Audience?

There's a lot to be gained by looking at adult education in a new way.

Malcolm Gladwell caused quite a stir in his new book, David and Goliath, by making the claim that you’d be better off sending your son or daughter to Hartwick College in upstate New York than to an Ivy League school like Harvard University.

Why? He says that students who excel at lower-tiered colleges are more likely to succeed in their working career than those who get average grades at the most highly esteemed schools.

While that might run counter to popular belief, Gladwell has made a name for himself by challenging conventional wisdom and giving us new ways of looking at the world around us. I’m not so sure about this particular claim, but it’s enough to get us thinking about what preconceived ideas we in the meetings industry may have about learning.

Do you base your education programs on what has always been done before, or do you consider new content, environments, and delivery approaches? Do you look for new opportunities for your own learning, or do you fall back on methods that you’ve grown accustomed to — although they might not have been that effective? Sometimes what we’re doing still works; sometimes not. It takes constant evaluation and retooling to make sure our offerings resonate with our audience.

The field of learning is changing dramatically. Many organizations are discovering that personalized learning is much more effective, but wrestle with how to offer customized opportunities within budget and resource constraints. Collaborative learning is gaining more traction, as is condensing quality education into smaller chunks.

And needless to say, online learning is exploding. That recent development is particularly important for meeting professionals to understand, which is why our cover and CMP Series story in this issue is dedicated to that topic. It’s also why — I’m delighted to announce — Salman Khan, founder of the wildly popular online Khan Academy, will be a General Session speaker at Convening Leaders 2014.

And speaking of online learning — if you can’t make it to our annual meeting, you’ll be able to take advantage of our popular Convening Leaders hybrid and tune in to 30 sessions over the course of three days, as well as to interact with your peers and our speakers. For more online learning, we just relaunched our online learning portal, PCMA365, where you can access an array of archived education sessions, webinars, online courses, Convene articles, white papers, and research. Better yet, you can search by topic and also find pre-bundled packages dedicated to select specialties, such as medical and global meetings.

I hope you’ll take advantage of some of our new educational offerings — and that they provide insight into what may work for your own education programs. There’s much to be gained by looking at learning in new and different ways. Here’s to a new year of doing just that together.

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.