Interactive Association Education: Background

Interactive Association Education is 21st century learning. This service certainly includes education but also communication and information options for association members and executives. Such learning provides information and processes for participants to act on, interact with, and shape the education to fit her needs.
Interactive education is a learning experience filled with authenticity for participants. Pine and Gilmore’s work in economic revolutions and evolutions – experience economy and now consumer demand for authenticity is a strong endorsement for all associations to embrace active education  (Strategic Horizons, LLP ).

At the 2008 New Ideas Conference sponsored by the Texas Society of Association Executives, Interactive Association Education (IAE) was explored in a breakout session.  In the experience economy, the customer engages in a variety of ways in the economic event from restaurant environments like Rainforest Café where diners eat in a “rainforest” with realistic sites and sounds surrounding them to iPods where users purchase technology then tailor it to their respective styles, music & video preferences, ringtones, etc. Is the experience real, not fake, authentic – does it have meaning for the consumer? So it is with interactive association education, the adult learner is an active participant and learning is “sticky” when the experience is authentic, applicable, and meaningful.

Interactive education often is built on typical engagement such as round table discussions in the workshop setting, focus groups, or even polls taken during a webinar. These three examples are types of participation; in interactive education, however, the participant not only reacts but also shapes and even initiates learning.
Traditional face-to-face (f2f) techniques can serve as a base for interactive experiences. Such f2f strategies include direct teach, lecture, workshop presentations, seminars, conference sessions, and any others in which the experience generally is uni-dimensional. One-way delivery options, however, quickly are becoming dinosaurs of the 21st century.
To avoid the way of the dinosaurs, associations should consider robust, engaging learning. Many organizations already are moving in this direction. Interactive education allows associations to build upon the strengths of their f2f events while expanding virtual services. With this model, members have multiple dynamic options for education and organizations can proceed on the road to remarkable.

Next time we will define IAE and build rationale.