An article by Samantha Whitehorne in Associations Now caught my eye: The Future of Learning, According to Millennials.  It’s a pretty intriguing title on a number of levels. First, if reasonable journalists are going to stick their necks out far enough to reach into the future, I assume they are inspired by some pretty good information. Second, the study that Ms. Whitehorne cites covers a topic that not only interests me, but is relevant to the evolution of our business.
Millennial Branding surveyed 1,345 US college students about the future of education.  As you would imagine, they embrace online education as a viable option for learning and an option that provides the same or higher quality education than the classroom. The majority of respondents felt that it is easier to learn in a classroom (at least at the university level), but they also believe that everyone learns differently, and online education is a good option for all and the best option for some learners.
The survey responses brought to mind the professional associations/continuing education providers we serve. Association members, the professionals who participate in online continuing education (CE) programs, do not, for the most part, fall into the Millennial demographic. In fact, they are quite a bit older than the college students surveyed. Yet, they have embraced online education based on quality content and the ability to access continuing education between client meetings, court dates, patient consultations, etc.  They have embraced online CE because they need to fit required continuing education in around tax season and flu season, and they need to have relevant CE available wherever they happen to be at the tail end of compliance/licensing periods.
Based on our experience, lawyers, accountants, bankers and other professionals have been on the leading edge of online education for quite some time. This is especially true for lawyers, who have been making good use of online continuing legal education for well over ten years. They were not raised with the Internet, yet Millennials’ parents and grandparents are one step ahead when it comes to online CE, at least for now. But as Millennials join the workforce and become consumers of CE, it will be interesting to see their influence shape the future of continuing education.