What do Recycling and Continuing Education Have in Common?
In 1993, the Dyersburg Corporation introduced the first post-consumer recycled polyester fleece. And, in 2010, it would be difficult to find a person on the North American continent who doesn’t own a polar fleece made from recycled plastic soda bottles.
Online continuing professional education may not be as ubiquitous as polar fleece, but it’s getting there. Professionals like bankers, CPAs, lawyers, social workers, dentists, and doctors, are under mandate to continually avail themselves of professional education to update skills/stay current.
In my last post, I mentioned that in the not-too-distant past the lion’s share of CE was handled via face-to-face events. I also talked about the shift to online CE. While more and more continuing education is being handled online, thousands of face-to-face events are still being held in conference centers, schools, and hotel conference rooms. This is where the CE recycling story begins, because an increased need for online continuing professional education creates a huge need for quality, online CE content and face-to-face events are a key source of this content.
Enter webcasting as a way to recycle in person events. Creating live and/or on-demand webcasts from face-to-face events is a win-win situation for all stakeholders. For the providers of CE-- professional associations, government agencies, schools, etc.—this type of webinar helps maximize their investment (time, money, resources) by increasing the event audience by a significant factor. I can say this confidently because we’ve seen this time and again with our own customers. Some worry that offering a webcast option will cannibalize event attendance, but in all cases, the total audience increases. This is because webcasts attract attendees who would not have been able to attend an in-person event because of time constraints, proximity, or travel budgets. Which brings us to the benefits of webcasting for the professional audience: they can now attend the events they want (or need) to participate in despite time and budget constraints.
Successful webcasting is another topic—and one that I plan to cover in a future blog post. In the meantime, let’s look at another type of recycling that benefits online CE programs – content sharing. A few years ago, we identified the need for quality CE content. At the same time, we became aware of the fact that some organizations were not equipped to create the content they needed; while others had the resources and expertise to create highly relevant content, but lacked a means to expand their reach beyond their primary audience. With content-sharing, each has value to the other. One group can benefit from the other’s content, while the second group can benefit from the first’s audience. To address this, we created The InReach Sharing Network™--a course library that enables content sharing among our customers. Using the InReach Sharing Network, a CE provider can satisfy their customers by offering high-demand CE content and/or share their content to extend reach and revenue. It’s been a big success … and it’s the only one of its kind.
Webcasting and content sharing are proven ways to expand your CE reach, maximize your investment in content (as well as speakers, venue, etc), and give your customers/audience what they need—where they need it. In short, recycling is a win-win situation for any organization that provides continuing education.