aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

Archive for January, 2012

How Time Flies…

Posted by Ellen on January 27, 2012

…when you’re having fun, right?!?

And we have been having fun here at the aLearning Blog! Suddenly, it seems, we’re publishing our 250th post and celebrating five years.

Yep, five years. And so much has changed!

When aLearning published its first post back on January 27, 2007:

  • no LMS systems (that we know of at the time) were designed especially to meet the needs of associations and nonprofits
  • few (if any) research endeavors about online learning focused on associations and nonprofits
  • few (if any) organizations bothered to survey association learning leaders to find out what we’re doing in the field and how things were going
  • the number of association-specific blogs could be counted on the fingers of one person’s hands
  • social learning and virtual learning environments were mysterious, hocus-pocus, scary entities

A lot has changed over just five changes of the seasons, hasn’t it?!?

Top 100 aLearning Blog Posts

To celebrate this milestone, we’ve compiled an ebook of our Top 100 aLearning Blog Posts. Just skimming through these selections made us realize how quickly the elearning sands shift, affecting the landscape, even moving the horizon.

At over 200 pages, this compilation brings together in one place the best — and most controversial — writing from the aLearning Blog. We’ve included most comments (the fine print is that we’ve deleted pingpacks, backtracks, and outright sales pitches) and are proud of the attention the aLearning Blog has garnered over the years by elearning and education experts.

To Get Your Copy

We’ve made this e-publication very affordable at just $5. To order, go to www.ellenbooks.com/store.html and click the “Buy Now” PayPal button. You should be able to read this PDF from any device with a PDF reader (such as Adobe Reader).

Special Offer

If you’ve purchased aLearning: A Trail Guide to Association eLearning, we’ll send you a copy of the Top 100 Posts for free. Just send Ellen an e-mail at ellenbehr@aol.com and attach an electronic copy of your Lulu receipt, and we’ll send you the Top 100 Posts by return e-mail. We appreciate your support and are happy to say “thank you” in this small way.

Thank You!

Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Surveys, aLearning Trends, Conferences, eLearning Marketing, eLearning Resources, Financing eLearning, Justifying aLearning, Learning in General, LMS, Measuring Results, Online Learning in General, Social Learning, Webinars | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

January Quick Clicks

Posted by Ellen on January 23, 2012

Whew! It’s been awhile since an aLearning post, but we’ve been working hard behind the scenes on a great new aLearning venture. More on that soon… :)

 

Meanwhile, we’ll make it up to you by providing this edition of Quick Clicks, some links to what we believe are valuable resources, articles, and tools, collected here to help save you the time of tracking them all down.

As always, if you have suggestions for Quick Clicks links, send an e-mail.

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Struggling with Systems Integration?

First, take a look at “Bringing Systems Together” from associationTECH…

Then take in the first installment of their series, this one focusing on AMSes: “Bringing Systems Together: AMS Central”

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MOOCs and Connectivism

Curious about MOOCs (Mass Open Online Courses)? Wonder what the impetus was for the first one in 2008 (yes, they’ve been around more than three years now)? Want to see how Connectivism is at the center of it all?

Read all about it at Stephen Downes’ “Creating the Connectivist Course” at his Half and Hour blog.

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Making the Case (Yet Again) for the Legitimacy of eLearning

Still looking for justifying elearning? Looking for support in your argument that online teaching and learning has been validated? Craig Weiss at the E-Learning 24/7 Blog has captured a bunch of facts with bona fide, respectable sources in hispost, “Online Learning in Education.” The post focuses on elearning in higher ed, but hey, if you can get a legitimate university degree this way, shouldn’t it be fine for our association members?!??

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LMS Help

We’ve mentioned Craig several times here at aLearning (and include him in our pretty exclusive Blogroll) because provides enormous help when it comes to LMSes and other systems… Here’s a list of some of the “Must-Reads” from his blog (noted above):

Interoperability – it works every time..Wrong

LMS – Extended Enterprise Space 

LMS Q and A

What about UR infrastructure? Questions 2 Ask B4 Implementing a LMS http://bit.ly/xrRYpI

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eLearning Strategy Mistakes

Of course, we believe you should start with aLearning: A Trail Guide to Association eLearning when developing a strategy for your learning programs (especially online offerings)… but you would also benefit from Marc Rosenberg’s “Ten Common Mistakes in Building an eLearning Strategy” from his Marc My Words blog. It’s a quick but very valuable read, and you don’t need to be an eLearning Guild member to access it online.

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More on Learning Styles Bunk

Yes, we’re still fighting the “learning styles” myth. Here’s more ammo from Knowledge Factor’s blog.

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Free Image Editors

We all like stuff that’s free, especially when it saves us money and performs a job for us. You can thank Tom Kuhlman at The Rapid E-Learning Blog for a list of five free image editors. Manipulate those clip art images, photos, and other graphics to make your tutorials, newsletters and other documents look the way you want, instead of the way those images are handed to you. Read his post for the full list and links to those editors.

Posted in aLearning Strategies, eLearning Resources, Justifying aLearning, LMS | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cloudy About ‘The Cloud’?

Posted by Ellen on January 10, 2012

Don’t be. Here’s the easy-sneezy version of what you need to know to help your association or nonprofit.

First, “The Cloud” is just another way of referring to the Web, the Internet, cyberspace. Services “in the cloud” are available via the Web instead of systems having to be installed on your server(s) or applications or programs being installed on your desktop. It means they’re out there — in cyberspace — and you connect to them.

What this means is that the responsibility for maintaining those systems rests on the company providing them, instead of on you.

Yes, this is very good news.

“SaaS” or “Software as a Service” has been around for awhile, and “The Cloud” references have sort of evolved from that.

But here’s the best part. According to TSIA’s October 2011 report, “Understanding the Impact of Consumption Economics on Education Services”:

“Customers no longer have to buy all the complexity. They can buy the capacity, features, and functionality they need, when they need them, and in the amount they need them. The best part for the customer is that huge, up-front payments are replaced by manageable, monthly payments. No longer is the customer held hostage by a product that is too hard to use and too hard to uninstall.”

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Wait! There's more!

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"…[T]here will be constant price pressure as new suppliers enter the marketplace and/or new cloud offerings are promoted."

TSIA anticipates a shift from long-term licensing fees to micro-transactions, which could be pricing per user per month, per feature, per gigabyte of data stored, per content downloaded, or any number of other similar yet singular types of transactions.

We’re already seeing this from some vendors. Charging a $X fee per user per month for up to X number of users is one example.

This is great because we’ll only be charged for the actual number of users in the system and/or for the actual downloads or other access options.

Of Course There’s a Catch

You can get your calculator out and do the math if you want, but the logic is clear: the better the deal is for us (the consumers), the more the vendors will have to work to make the same levels of income.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’ve decided on ACME LMS. Let’s say you’re just starting with elearning so you’ve chosen their low-end “Basic” option: features A, B, and C, for $5/mo per user.

Let’s also say they have a “Standard” option that includes the features you already have and use, PLUS features D, E, F, G, and H for $10/mo per user.

Even with the same number of users, ACME LMS stands to make more  money from you.

They might not try to get you to opt for the “Standard” bundle at first, but you can bet they’ll be looking to “upsell” you at some point. They have revenue needs, and you’re the way to fill those needs.

I’m not saying don’t take the upsell. But I will tell you to ask for the data.

More Cloudy Benefits

A hidden benefit of a product that sits in the Cloud is that it’s generating a bunch of data on your use of the system. You might be getting that data, you might not. But you can bet the company is sucking as many numbers out of the system as it can get.

That’s not a bad thing.

They can tell you how your members are using the system in ways you probably can’t imagine. It’s to their benefit to do that.

So if they’re suggesting an upgrade to another bundle — let’s say to the Standard option in the example we’ve been using — then ask to see the data. Look at how the features you’d be adding could enhance the learners’ experience in the training you’re giving them. How many users would likely be affected if you incorporated those additional features? Would it be worth the additional cost? Why? Why not?

If you’re not convinced, no need to make the jump. The next “level” of service will be around for awhile. You can make the change whenever your organization is ready, and you can do it pretty quickly compared to the old license-renewal cycles that are measured in years.

Yes, there are terrific benefits when you let your elearning programs live in the Cloud rather than on some server in a back room someplace. Start modestly, graduate up if needed, and be sure the vendor you choose has a great reputation for uptime and excellent back-up systems.

Could your elearning benefit from living in the Cloud?

Posted in aLearning Strategies, Financing eLearning, LMS, Online Learning in General | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Danger of Data (Even When It’s Accurate)

Posted by Ellen on January 6, 2012

You know I love data. You know I believe in the power it has to convince TPTB (The Powers That Be) in the need for elearning, for improved instructional design in face-to-face training, and all other related matters.

We worry a lot about getting our data wrong and about the dissemination of incorrect information. But when’s the last time you worried that accurate data could lead you — or your association leaders or your members or your other constituents — in the wrong direction?

Yes, it’s possible.

Here’s a perfect example, courtesy of Mark Twain:

“In the space of 176 years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself 242 miles. Therefore… in the Old Silurian Period, the Mississippi River was upward of one million three hundred thousand miles long and … 742 years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long…. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesome returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”

Moral of Mr. Twain’s story? Use facts and data wisely.

If you’re projecting the results of something, project something that’s realistic. If you’re drawing a causal relationship to examine what might have caused X, Y or Z to have happened, then do so logically.

Accurate data, wielded irresponsibly, could be more disastrous than not having data at all. Remember that.

Posted in aLearning Strategies, Justifying aLearning, Measuring Results | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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