Case Study: American Alliance of Museums
Alliance Professional Development Webcasts Help Create Superior Museums
Museums / Associations
Webcast and Event Production
American Alliance of Museums
Museum professionals gather online for high quality learning and networking with colleagues from around the globe.
The American Alliance of Museums is committed to providing the highest quality programs to museum practitioners at every stage of their career, in all functional areas, and in a wide range of museum types, sizes, budgets and disciplines. Alliance Professional Development (PD) helps individual museum practitioners improve both their technical and interpersonal management and leadership (hard and soft) skills, thus helping create stronger institutions that can better serve their communities, and ultimately help communicate the value of museums to society in these challenging times and beyond.
Rising costs and decreased attendance began to impact the face-to-face Alliance PD programs, even before the recent downturn in the economy. Having a long history and commitment to supporting the ongoing development of all museum professionals, the Alliance surveyed its membership base and began to look at alternative training options that would allow them to deliver the same quality programming while reducing the costs to participate, decreasing participant time away from work and increasing networking and community collaboration.
Solution: Online Professional Development Webcasts
The Alliance teamed up with LearningTimes to develop a series of professional development webinars and web conferences and limited the number of face-to-face seminars offered, due to lack of travel and training funds as expressed by colleagues in the field through several surveys.
Alliance PD webinars are presented live, led by subject matter experts from both inside and outside the museum field, and offer a range of opportunities for real-time interaction with the presenters and peers. Each session is also recorded and becomes part of a growing library of on-demand content. In addition, all programs are Closed Captioned, which adds a meaningful layer of accessibility to the offerings, and the program transcripts (and other resources) provide value to participants after the live event.
“We’ve seen more people register for online programs, which is great,” offers Greg Stevens, Alliance assistant director for professional development. “Even more exciting for us is that people are convening face-to-face with staff and colleagues from other institutions, building community and peer-to-peer learning in the field.”
Across the board, the response rate to Alliance webinars and web conferences has been extremely positive: about 90% of evaluation respondents report that programs have met or exceeded their expectations and about 90% indicate they would recommend the program to others.
Overall, attendance at Alliance PD programs (both face to face and online) has increased from 300 in 2007 to 3,000 in 2008, to over 10,000 in 2009, a remarkable increase of over 3,000% in just two years.
While approximately 50% of respondents indicate they are “first-timers” to a webinar (the Alliance or elsewhere), a significant and growing number of attendees at Alliance online PD programs are repeat participants. Nearly all participants are American Alliance of Museums members.
The online programs have attracted attendees from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and several countries around the globe.
“In my travels around the country I have heard many positive comments from both small and medium sized institutions about how well the Alliance is making information available to them through the webinars,” comments Carl Nold, Chair of the Alliance of American Museums Board.
One participant remarked in a program evaluation: “I participated in an Alliance webinar for the first time and was so impressed with the level of the discussion and how much I learned. I’d never taken a webinar before and didn’t know what to expect, but it was incredibly easy and allowed interaction with other attendees and with the speaker on several different levels. I can highly recommend this as an affordable way to continue your professional development.”