Not many people enjoy reading data, but if you think about how it can affect your association’s online learning for the better, you might relish it. A major lesson I learned from a conference session at this year’s ASAE Annual Meeting was the idea that data should be connected, not just collected. That really stuck with me and led me to dig deeper into how connecting eLearning data from members to the product and membership services can benefit your association.
1) Big Data
It’s a buzz word that people love to throw around but rarely understand. Ready to find out what it really means? Simply stated, big data is used to describe data that is too complex to store and analyze. With the growth of technology, many online learning platforms are now able to analyze big data. With advanced reporting and tracking now available, we can gather more information than ever about how learners receive and respond to course offerings. Some data our partners often find interesting are how long learners spend in a course, which courses showed the greatest learning gains, how active the members are in the online portal, and which discussions are most popular. The administrator of your association’s online learning system is probably familiar with how to run these types of reports, but they may not yet know how to connect the data to “measures that matter.” If analyzed properly, reports from your association LMS can tell you more than who completed which course, such as the time of day members learn best or which courses are generally purchased together and might benefit from being bundled.
2) Data Trends
Data trends are easy to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for, meaning you should never be looking for a trend when you collect the data; make those connections after you have all of the information. According to CIO.com, “The new cornucopia of public and private data is providing a new opportunity to mash up multiple big data sets to gain new insights beyond what a single big data set allows. ‘The highest value of big data is coming from combining big data sets together,’ says Ron Bodkin, CEO and founder of Think Big.” Reports from your association LMS can provide data trends that convey what is and isn’t working for members. Is there a correlation between how much time your members spend in a course and how well they score on an assessment or rate the course? If we take the time to analyze and seek out trends in our data, sometimes the most valuable information is right in front of us, we’re just not seeing it.
3) Data Costs
Debbie King of DSK Solutions developed an exercise to determine indirect and opportunity costs associated with wasting time on activities that do not add value to an association. To begin, Debbie suggests association executives ask their staff to write down their daily activities on post-it-notes. Next, Debbie instructs participants to consider the following questions:
The idea is to evaluate all of the activities staffers carry out each day and decide which add value to the association and which are a waste of time and should be stopped.
By completing this exercise and utilizing Debbie’s tool, you can prioritize activities within your association and uncover the indirect and opportunity costs that may be inhibiting your association’s growth.
You could also apply this same exercise to your association’s education offerings. With the big data and data trends in hand, you could determine which courses offer the most value to your membership, which take the most time to produce and manage, and which ones you might want to offer more of.
While data driven decision making is not something new, the technology that pulls certain data is. Be sure you know what types of data are important to your association. With the technology to analyze and report certain data, the key is figuring out how to connect your member data to products and eServices. For more information on data management and the questions you should be asking, I suggest this blog post by Effective Data Management.
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A relative newbie to the eLearning scene, Sarah is no stranger to the association and non-profit world. Before joining the “dark side,” Sarah served as a marketing and communications specialist at various organizations including the American Lung Association and the Association of Corporate Contribution Professionals. Today, Sarah serves as Digitec’s Digital Marketing Coordinator or “SM Queen” for short. In her new role, Sarah enjoys blogging, tweeting and sharing membership engagement tips for association professionals. Sarah earned certificates in non-profit and volunteer management as well as a B.A. in media and communications from Rollins College in Winter Park, FL.
Spirit animal: Lion
Comfort object: Sunglasses
Personal vice: #longhashtags ;)
Useless talent: Can fall asleep in seconds
Unreasonable paranoia: Tsunamis
Wishes more people cared about: Recycling and the environment