Before the conference in Philadelphia, there was already talk about the continuing education opportunities that the Association might offer in Chicago. While the IT Division was able to offer three successful CEs in Philly, many CEs were cancelled leaving divisions wondering about what members (you) want. A task force, led by John DiGilio, has been charged with investigating the situation and making recommendations that might influence how we all approach CEs in Chicago. (John led a lively Leadership discussion list conversation on this topic and also talked about it at the Joint Cabinet meeting during the conference.) The Task Force did a survey to capture input from as many SLA members as possible. The Quick Snapshot results were:
Responses: 1,333 (14.35% of membership)
Attendance of CE: Almost 60% of our members have never attended a CE session at annual conference!
Reaction to CE: Of those who responded and have taken CE at the annual conference, 78% would actually rate their experience as being between GOOD and EXCELLENT.
Biggest Draws: Content, Timing, and Speakers were the biggest factors for drawing people to CE courses. Content was the overall favorite.
Deterrents: The biggest factors driving people away were cost and timing conflicts. More than 80% indicated that costs were a deterrent to their attendance.
Added Appeal: When it comes to things that folks say would make increase the likelihood of their taking CE courses, the following ideas ranked highest: Online sessions, courses evenly spaced throughout the year, and graduated or discounted pricing.
The Task Force is now looking through the 40 pages of comments that they received and working on their report. It is expected that the report will help guide the 2012 conference planners. As the person who coordinated the CEs for the IT Division this year, one statistic from the survey stands out to me - nearly 60% of the respondents had never attended a CE at the annual conference. While the survey was brief and didn't delve deep into how people use their time at the conference, the reality is that CEs are less popular than many conference programs, yet they may require more time and energy to plan and execute.
The Task Force's continued efforts will help us understand what we might do differently and how might provide a better bang for your buck. One of the things that the IT Division wants to do this year is to offer virtual events. We cosponsored one during 2010 with two other SLA units (Legal Division and Kentucky Chapter) which was very successful. Daphne Chang (cdchang at stanford.edu) is leading the team that will work on virtual events and she is already gathering ideas. If you have suggestions about topics, instructors or format, please contact her.
Ruth Kneale and I will be working on scheduling CEs for the 2012 conference. We are looking forward to the guidance we will receive from the Task Force. Because of the deadlines that will soon be upon us, we are already talking to potential instructors so that have ideas to act upon. If you are an instructor and have a workshop that you believe would we appropriate for IT Division members, please contact me (hurst at hurstassociates.com).
If you are not getting your continuing education needs filled through SLA, I would be interested in knowing why and what we (the Division and the Association) might do to change that. Please feel free to contact me with any information you want to share. Thanks!