Investing in Online Learning

Chuck Molina, CTO at the Door and Hardware Institute, on why and how DHI is ramping up its online education offerings. [Titled "First in Class" in the print edition.]

Associations Now: Why do you want to invest more in online education?

Molina: Our industry—the commercial building industry—has not recovered from the recession. My goal is to be ready for when it does recover with new technologies that will advance our association.

When our members' businesses get busy again, they will not have the time to take face-to-face classes. We need to bring the classes to them. We also have members all over the world in different time zones. We need to have more online self-paced classes available that they can take on their schedule, not ours.

How are you doing this?

We invested a lot of money in the technology side of it as far as building a Sakai [learning management] site and integrating our AMS to that site, so when members take tests and quizzes online, it will integrate back to our system.

We also invested in consultants to help us with the course development so we can get online a lot quicker.

What should others know about developing online education platforms?

Do the research into what types of classes you want to put online, and make sure that they go with the technology you're using, whether you want to use a service like Sakai or Blackboard or GeoLearning. I think you need to spend the time upfront to see what's going to work for your industry.