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ATD Blog

Leveraging Personalized Learning to Increase Member Engagement

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Today’s modern adult learners expect more. With information available via podcasts, YouTube videos, and other consumer-focused sources, the expectation of that same on-demand experience within the workplace is constant. Many organizations have not yet made the shift to invest in modern learning, which presents an opportunity for associations to help deliver valuable programs personalized to their members.

Understanding the Learner

The first step to delivering a personalized learning experience is understanding the learner. A valuable action to take at this stage is to conduct a learner journey mapping exercise. This technique has proven successful in industries such as customer service and product design and is slowly gaining momentum in talent development.
The simplest way to do this is by bringing together a team that understands the quintessential learner (potentially including some members in the activity) and tasking them with researching and answering the five Ws:

1. Who is the learner?
2. What do they need to know?
3. When will they use this information?
4. Why does it matter to them?
5. Where (and how) do we want them to apply it?

Although this research takes time, it’s a valuable and worthwhile start toward building a personalized learning experience.

Building the Content

To ensure you’re meeting your learners’ needs, answer the questions listed above to build the content for your program. In addition to personalizing the content itself, you’ll need to tailor the path they take through the program—what courses they should take first, second, third, and so on.


In situations where the program is not linear or where a learner is not part of a discrete cohort, it’s important to leverage a well-defined communication plan to indicate the options available to your members. Think Netflix—if you like X then you’ll like Y. Members will feel more engaged because the learning is highly customized to their needs.

Delivering the Program

The metric for evaluating a successful personalized membership learning program is scalability. From the association’s point of view, the administrative staff should be able to easily automate the program delivery, gain insights into their members’ progress, and leverage data to adjust and personalize experiences en masse.


From a member’s perspective, they should feel that the program delivered aligns with their knowledge, skills, or behavior. The simplest way to do this is to implement self-assessment at the beginning of the program with various progress and mastery checkpoints as the member continues through the content. This will provide clear direction, helping the member buy into their own progress, thus increasing overall engagement.

Bottom line: A well-thought-out learning program delivers a personalized experience for your members and helps them feel more engaged with your content and association.

About the Author

Andra Popescu is a senior advisory consultant for D2L with deep expertise in change management and leadership development practices. She’s spent over seven years providing strategic, innovative, research-driven solutions for corporate executives in a variety of industries. Andra holds an Honors Bachelor of Sciences degree from McMaster University and an MBA with a focus in strategy and brand management from Ryerson University. In her spare time, she’s a Kundalini Yoga teacher, obstacle course racer, an avid runner, book lover, and travel addict.

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Hello Andra,
Your article echoes what I have been saying for some time. You inspired my post for this week “Personalized Learning On-Demand” at Thank you for sharing.
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interesting and most useful
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Thank You
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