It’s really very simple, all of this stuff about social networking, social media, collaborative learning, Web 2.0, 3.0, etc. etc:
They are evidence that your members/learners need more than stand-alone events. Focusing solely on “programs” — the way we’ve traditionally provided education to our association members — is just not enough.
But don’t take it from me. Jay Cross, learning expert and author, writes: “The old focus on events such as workshops won’t cut it in the ever-changing swirl produced by networks.”
Jay was the first to address the need to focus on the power and importance of infomal learning — 80-90% of the way someone learns what they need to know professionally is learned informally.
“Learning is formal when someone other than the learner sets curriculum,” he writes. “Typically, it’s an event, on a schedule and completion is generally recognized with a symbol, such as a grade, gold star, certificate or check mark in a learning management system. Formal learning is pushed on learners.”
He goes on: “By contrast, informal learners usually set their own learning objectives. They learn when they feel a need to know. The proof of their learning is their ability to do something they could not do before. Informal learning often is a pastiche of small chunks of observing how others do things, asking questions, trial and error, sharing stories with others and casual conversation. Learners are pulled to informal learning.”
And of course, if we attract or pull our members into the learning environment we have created for them, then we have most of the battle won — our marketing is that much more effective, our registrations hit the required levels to meet our budgets, our members stay engaged and are that much more likely to renew….
It’s all good!
Programs have their place, but they are a means — not and end — to your curriculum.
Not familiar with Jay? Check out his Internet Time Blog for more on this topic of “learnscapes.”