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Why Virtual Learning is Still Relevant for Member-Driven Associations


At the height of the pandemic, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) knew it needed to expand its online continuing education offerings, so they teamed up with Scurry Street to launch a new webinar platform for their first-responder members. Fast forward two years and their in-person conferences are back in action, and their online learning program is thriving, attracting thousands of participants and delivering results for sponsors and stakeholders alike.

Scurry Street continues to work with the IAFC to manage all of its educational webinars - more than 30 this year. On May 16, Scurry Street helped produce Fire-Rescue Med, a seven-hour annual virtual conference targeted toward emergency medical services professionals such as EMTs and paramedics, marking the third year in a row we’ve organized the flagship program. We brought in Event Strategy Group (ESG) as our production partner to provide video editing and live event production support.

We'll give you a behind-the-scenes look at how we prepared and delivered this program, and take a look at why we believe virtual educational programs still drive tremendous value for member-driven organizations like the IAFC. You can learn more about the IAFC’s online educational program here.

Choose the right platform

The IAFC chose BigMarker as their webinar delivery platform primarily because it was affordable, easy to use, and simple to implement, making it easy for their members, staff, speakers, and volunteers to support the transition. Although the platform was new to Scurry Street, we quickly learned how to leverage its many benefits, and it turned out to be the perfect fit for the IAFC. BigMarker is a straightforward webinar platform that has some powerful built-in production and customization tools that anyone with webinar production experience can learn to use. It even creates an on-demand content library automatically with every webinar, making it an excellent value for members.

Tap your best talent - your volunteers

The IAFC is fortunate to have volunteer members with decades of experience in the fire service profession, who are eager to help share their experience and knowledge with their fellow fire chiefs. Each webinar is hosted and moderated by a volunteer leader. Even sponsored webinars have a resident subject matter expert (SME) who helps develop the content and makes sure it is relevant enough for the targeted audience. If your association has a deep bench of subject matter expertise, it's important to tap into it and utilize it for educational webinars.

Partner with sponsors and celebrate measurable results

Sponsors play a vital role in the success of any association, and the IAFC is no exception. IAFC webinar sponsors often provide the speaking talent and expertise, partnering with SMEs to ensure the messages are insightful and informative. With the BigMarker platform, results are measurable, with full metrics available after each event, making reporting and analytics easy to manage.

Virtual platforms are not one-size-fits-all, and every organization has different needs. For the IAFC, its online learning program provides three key member benefits:

Flexibility: members learn at their own pace and on their own schedule

Accessibility: eliminates geographical and economic barriers, making it possible for members from anywhere in the world to access quality content and expert-led training

Cost-effectiveness: start up costs are minimal, implementation is nearly off-the-shelf; having a strong project manager is key to keeping costs in line

Understanding how you ultimately want to use the content you create with webinars is an important step in optimizing your online learning program. Even though we love creating powerful in-person experiences, we recognize the important role a well-developed online learning program can play in an overall member benefits plan. Scurry Street is proud to be a part of the IAFC’s efforts to deliver compelling virtual learning opportunities so that its members can keep their communities safe.

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