Association Messy, Convoluted Conundrums With Compliance Issues In Learning Offerings


Do you ever feel caught between a rock and a hard place regarding your association’s education programming?

For years, you’ve offered education to your constituents to meet industry or profession CE requirements. You’ve kept detailed data on content alignment with obligations, program and speaker approvals from governing boards, attendance, test scores and customer certification status.

It’s worked for decades. However, today, your attendance and revenue is declining. You have increased competition. And your customers are complaining about outdated content and boring sessions.

Identifying What’s Important Regarding Your Education Offerings

What’s more important regarding your association’s learning offerings?

  • Meeting mandated and regulated industry (perceived content) requirements?
  • Being able to document that attendees sat through the entire course so that you both are in compliance with regulations?
  • The quality of the instruction and the accuracy of the content?
  • Attendee satisfaction with the course so you can continue to make revenue from your education offerings?
  • The attendee’s improved performance and productivity as s/he applies their new learnings?

I submit to you that perhaps, just perhaps, the participant learning new critical content, remembering it on the job and applying it successfully is more important than distributing content! That’s where your organization’s value-add is!

This means that you’ve got to offer

  • the right learning experience
  • for the right target market
  • to help them solve the right problem
  • at the right time
  • for the right price and
  • help them to remember it at the right time
  • so that they can successfully apply it at the right time.

Bridging Compliance With Proficiency

So where does compliance with regulations about specific content and methods fit into this model?

Well, we’ve got to bridge the gap between compliance and proficiency.

Compliance is usually about receiving information on specific required content through a formal process such as an approved instructor or expert. Sometimes that compliance requires that learner to demonstrate that s/he knows a specific body of information though a test.

Compliance is about memorizing specific facts that someone else has deemed critical and necessary to maintain a certification, designation or license.

Compliance also usually means that an organization must maintain data on the learner’s attendance at specific education sessions and test results. It’s about a bureaucratic system of files kept for a specific number of years.

Compliance does not demonstrate a learner’s competency. Compliance does not demonstrate a learner’s proficiency.

Competency demonstrates one’s attitudes, behaviors and skills on a specific topic or process. It shows if a learner understands an issue and has the mindset and skill set to address it.

Proficiency demonstrates one’s results and actions. It shows if the learner applies new knowledge and skills to challenges.

Competency and proficiency means the leaner can demonstrate application of those facts in the real world.

If your association is about helping stakeholders grow, develop and improve, you’ve got to design learning opportunities that address 21st Century evidence based education methods that result in on-the-job improvements. And those learning opportunities have to demonstrate how a leaner uses facts, data and systems to problem solve real word issues, ultimately meeting compliance standards.

It won’t be easy. It won’t be an overnight change. It will result in customer loyalty and stakeholder growth.

What challenges is your organization facing regarding compliance, competency and proficiency issues? How is your organization addressing this tension?

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