One of the top purposes of any professional association should be the education and enrichment of its members. Professional development, training, and knowledge are some of the biggest reasons members join an association—whether it’s in person at a conference, via an online webinar, or even simply reading up on the latest enrichment materials available. Your members have a thirst for knowledge; are you doing all you can to deliver? One of the best ways you can improve education and training among association members is to wisely use social media channels.

As part of our ongoing effort to highlight the best of our series, “Be a Social CRM Hero”, we would like to point readers towards this post by Maddie Grant, “How To Apply Social to Education and Learning”, which ran as a part of that series in 2012. As a reminder, the series ran last year in coordination with Social Fish as a way to educate association leaders in using social media platforms to increase member engagement and retention.

Grant’s recommendations make sense no matter what type of education program you’re planning, even if it’s just a basic online webinar. She reminds us that retention and learning come easier when we’re not just listening to a lecturer droning on—the active participation required by social media can help your audience retain and understand what you’re saying more effectively.

“For adult learners, passive listening is not the most effective teaching method. Luckily, social tools give you the chance to design more engaging, effective programs. Plan collaborative activities like an internal online chat or note-taking through a Twitter hashtag. Ask questions of the audience that they can respond to in the chat. Ask them what they hope to learn. Or schedule additional post-event Q/A time. Most importantly, pair your subject matter experts with a facilitator who can run the backchannel activity.”

Another idea to leverage social to encourage learning is to reach out via social channels to ask for participation in even more traditional educational platforms. Planning a program at your upcoming event or conference? Grant encourages you to “preview and discuss educational content in your social spaces – not just for promotion, but for collaboration and engagement. Think about what content (like video or audio clips, a slide or full deck, or a great Q&A session) could be reimagined for social sharing. And recommend archived content that is relevant to the topic at hand.”

Read the full post here: How to Apply Social to Education and Learning

We found a few other excellent reads on this topic to share from around the Web and, as always, we encourage you to share your thoughts on how to best use social for educational development in the comments

What Can Associations Learn From Educational Innovations – Deirdre Reid

Sure, we’re once again tooting our own horn, but this post from earlier this year is an excellent resource for associations looking to diversify their education and development programs. Reid encourages using new technology and individual programs to get a leg up in education.

“We live in a customized world. The weekly email from our supermarket knows which sale items to feature based on our past purchases. Websites display advertisements about a vacation destination we’ve been Googling. Education is no different. We enter a classroom (virtual or not) with different levels of knowledge and we learn at different speeds. Why must education be one-size fits all? Increasingly, it isn’t.”

Mend the Gap: Opportunities for Associations in the “Other 50 Years” – Jeff Cobb

Another bonus from Reid’s excellent piece is that she linked to this 2012 post from Jeff Cobb. He argues for associations to step up and recognize the vital role they play in the continued learning and development of modern day professionals.

“Yes, the work of meetings and professional development programs marches on – admirably so – but where is the bigger vision? Where are the leaders articulating the challenge and seizing the opportunity? We’re rambling on about “relevance” when there is arguably nothing that has ever made us more relevant – assuming we choose to act accordingly.”

 Can Associations Bridge The Skills Gap For Members? – Jack McGrath

Continuing to follow the bread crumbs left by Reid and Cobb, we were led to this post from early 2013 from Jack McGrath, Creative Director for Digitec Interactive, writing for He argues that with many corporations looking to fill jobs with requirements far beyond the skills of the average American worker, associations can help bring their members into the 21st century:

“Associations are in a unique position to help solve the skills-gap problem. Already, many associations are providing education for their members, and by broadening and better marketing these opportunities, associations can increase their value by helping ensure their members do not fall on the wrong side of the skills gap. Industry should be turning to associations for their continuing education and certification programs. Associations may be in a better position than traditional suppliers of higher education to provide the continuing professional development companies need to compete in today’s global business environment.”