Provider Spotlight – The Boston Society of Architects
When architects look for opportunities to engage in lifelong learning, accessibility to quality content is essential to facilitating enthusiasm for new knowledge amongst the architectural profession. AIA members depend on their local component to provide programs, resources and other access to education which is straightforward and reliable. With many options for obtaining mandatory CE credits, AIA architect members view their state or local chapter as a trusted source for learning.
The Boston Society of Architects, a chapter of the AIA, understands an AIA member’s need for an uncomplicated and convenient approach to continuing education programs. BSA capitalizes on their central Boston location by collaborating with universities and organizations to provide CE opportunities. In addition, their close proximity to the area’s public transportation systems is an appealing benefit for their patrons. In an interview, the Boston Society of Architects’ Continuing Education Manager, Jen Lawson, shared her chapter’s insights and best practices to providing successful continuing education for architects.
In what ways does the Boston Society of Architects contribute to continuing education? Do you promote your own programs as well as the programs of other Providers?
The BSA is home to over 50 committees, ranging from Healthcare Facilities to the Construction Roundtable and the Marketing/PR wizards. All of these committees create intellectually rich content, much of which is used to identify or develop programming that is eligible for CE credits. One of the drivers of the BSA's recent relocation to its new headquarters was the need to provide more physical space to host committees and programs.
ArchitectureBoston Expo (ABX) is the BSA’s annual tradeshow, offering over 150 workshops in the conference program that features speakers from across the state, nation and world. Additionally, the BSA runs a summer workshop series, lectures, architectural film screenings, and conferences. Every year this adds up to well over 300 unique programs.
The BSA is fortunate to be located in a city that is world renowned for its educational and cultural offerings. This means that the BSA does not always need to develop its own rich content, but rather, can partner with any of the eight architecture schools in the region as well as other professional and cultural organizations. These partnerships extend to other AIA Chapters, and this year the BSA is proud to offer the AIA+2030 Professional series, a curriculum developed by AIA Seattle.
The BSA promotes all offered programs, regardless of the provider, although the scale of promotion may differ. Outside programming is generally promoted in the "Other news" section of our weekly email newsletter, Currents (over 10K recipients) and through a paid website calendar listing (over 17K visits per month).
Does the Boston Society of Architects focus education courses on specific architecture topics?
The BSA community demands education that is varied, advanced and high-level. Relevant topics are identified by BSA committees and allies, and programs addressing these topics run year round. The tradeshow and conference, ABX, offers plenty of opportunities for the professional seeking to garner multiple credits over a short time span. Last November, this conference offered approximately 150 different workshops and tours that were organized into 12 different tracks. Courses ranged from business practices, technology, and construction administration to sustainability and efficiency standards, case studies and programs that focus on young professionals.
The BSA strives to offer multiple programs that offer HSW and Sustainable Design credits so members can stay up-to-date with core education requirements.
What techniques do you employ when teaching a class to adult learners?
The BSA acts as an administrator between educators and the crediting process. It relies on committee chairs and other education providers to stay current with successful teaching methods for busy adult professionals. Direct feedback is solicited from course attendees, and if it is discovered that any instructor's techniques fall short, adjustments are made for the future.
Does the Boston Society of Architects offer a variety of course formats to appeal to different learning styles?
The BSA strongly believes in peer-to-peer and in-person learning. In part, the association moved to new headquarters so that meeting spaces would be more accessible by a variety of public transportation methods while also providing parking for those who must drive. Even so, many members live in places outside the metro Boston area, making regular attendance a hardship. Alternate methods for providing outreach to these members are actively being sought. In the meantime, many good distance-learning providers exist, and the BSA strives to assist members in finding them, when needed.
What are your practices with course development? How do you refine/change your courses based on new research or technology?
The BSA looks to its vast network of AEC professionals, members and non-members alike, to be the bellwether on current trends and challenges. By maintaining quality standards and sound marketing channels, the BSA is able to attract presenters at the forefront of their profession by providing strong attendance at all of its programs.
What are the techniques or tools you use to market courses to AIA members as well as other practicing architects?
The BSA maintains a database that is rich with our members and allies. Communications are targeted to be sure the right people are receiving only messages and promotions that are relevant to them. Techniques for outreach are also targeted and include direct mail, electronic mail, social media, posters, postcards, radio and word-of-mouth. Every one of those channels drive visitors back to the website, architects.org, which receives around 17,000 visitors each month. In the last year, architects.org received over 120,000 unique visits. We also rely on the marketing channels managed by our partners and allies.
Thank you to the Boston Society of Architects’ Jen Lawson for contributing to this piece.