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Online Learning for Trade Associations

Posts Tagged ‘asynchronous learning’

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 »

2011 aLearning Association Survey Results Summary — Part 2

Posted by Ellen on October 12, 2011

Last post we looked at the general profiles of respondents to the recent aLearning Association survey and some of the outliers we noticed in the data. We also summarized the educational staffing and general budget information.

In this post we’ll take a look at how respondents are spending their money. As has been the case throughout, you’ll notice what we did: use of online and social learning is uneven. Some organizations are neck-deep while others are not involved at all. The survey didn’t explore reasons, but differences in how education supports each organization’s strategy probably account for most of the cases.

Remember, we asked that the size of the organization be identified by the number of individuals served in the membership, even if the organization is a trade association with institutional members.

The pattern is easy to spot (click the table to see it larger):

The larger the organization, the more likely it is to be involved in synchronous and asynchronous learning. Remember that these include Webinars and Webinar recordings (though we asked respondents to differentiate by a sub-question, many didn’t make this distinction — so it’s entirely possible that the only way synchronous elearning is being delivered is via Webinar and that most asynchronous elearning consists of recorded Webinars.

Of course what’s most interesting is the uneven implementation of blended options. First it should be noted that although none of our respondents in the 501-1000 category uses blended learning, we can’t conclude that no organization of this size uses it, or that half of our respondents in the 1001-3000 category report using blended learning that half of all organizations of this size use it. (As much as we hoped to have adequate responses for true benchmarking, we didn’t…. To everyone’s disappointment, I’m sure.)

The uneven implementation of blended learning has (we believe) everything to do with the various types of “blend” that are going on. Here are various ways some of the respondents described their use of blended instructional modes:

  • Online forum discussions before & after face-to-face events
  • Webinars with structured face-to-face activities
  • Face-to-face programs with follow-up Webinars
  • Recordings from face-to-face programs made available online
  • Live sessions from the annual conference streamed online
  • Incorporating Webinars, online workspace and conference calls into a year-long training program

So what does all of that say about using social learning across associations? Our next post covers what the survey revealed about that.

Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Surveys, aLearning Trends, Asynchronous Learning Types, Justifying aLearning, Webinars | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Quick Clicks

Posted by Ellen on October 10, 2011

A big THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to the recent aLearning Association Survey… while we compile the results into readable posts for you (watch for new posts with the results)… here are some quick resources for you.

eLearning Glossary

ASP? CMS? CMI? ILS? Looking for a great glossary of common elearning acronyms and terms? Look no further than the e-Learning Guild’s Learning Solutions’ magazine glossary, found here.

Tutorial Tools

And here’s another great article from Learning Solutions. If you’re considering a tool for creating your own tutorials and asynchronous, online courses, don’t assume Articulate Presenter or Adobe Presenter are your best choices. See “Making Sense of PowerPoint Pandemonium” by Mark Simon in the September 14 issue for a great summary of these tools, plus iSpring’s Presenter (aLearning’s choice) and Lectora’s Snap.

Should You Charge for a Webinar?

If you haven’t read Jeff Cobb’s great post, “Webinar Strategy — The Inform/Perform Distinction,” you’re missing some great advice on how to decide whether to charge for a Webinar or not. What’s even better, his recommendation for those you should offer free should cost you less (if anything) to provide than it will cost you to offer those you would charge a fee for. When the financial numbers make sense, the instructional design makes sense, and the strategy makes sense, then you know the idea is sound.

Thinking of Producing Your Own Webinars? Here’s Help

See Susan Kistler’s summary of some “Low-Cost Webinar Production Tools” at the AssociationTech blog — note that she isn’t comparing different Webinar platforms but describes GoToWebinar by Citrix and the tools one organization uses for editing, archiving, and hosting. I’ve not used GoToWebinar, but if it requires post-production audio editing, you’ll want to try it out before you commit to it so you can reduce the amount of extra work involved in making the session available in recorded format.

More on Learning from Webinar Recordings

What are the advantages to recorded/archived Webinars? Take a look at this post from Donald Clark. His point is related to higher ed lectures, but the same likely holds true for our purposes as well.

Encouragement for Starting Your Social Learning Initiative

Looking for inspiration about how easy it is to get started with social learning? See “Implementing Social Learning: Start Small, Start Now” by Bill Cushard.

Want more specifics on how implementing social learning can be accomplished? See Cushard’s post, “Practical Ways to Design Social Media into Your Training Programs” at his Mindflash blog.

Ohhh… and there’s so much more, but that’s all I have had time to review for now… !

 

Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Trends, Asynchronous Learning Types, eLearning Marketing, eLearning Resources, Financing eLearning, Social Learning | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

You Ready to MOOC?

Posted by Ellen on August 8, 2011

All the recent discussion about how we learn from information has spurred me to post on MOOCs, before I’m really ready for it… but I do have a bit of insight to share, so that’s where we’ll start.

Haven’t heard of MOOCs yet?

MOOC = Massive Open Online Class. All the rage.

Okay, maybe within some circles.

The MOOC Guide on Wikispaces describes them this way:

“It is a gathering of participants, of people willing to jointly exchange knowledge and experiences for each of them to build upon. As such it is within the hands of the participants and organizers of a MOOC to change it to their needs. This allows them to use the information and to construct their own ideas or projects. A MOOC is by itself a non-defined pedagogical format to organize learning/teaching/training on a specific topic in a more informal collaborative way…. Connectivism theory … (paraphrasing heavily here) says that learning/training in this era will be successful if we learn how to connect and build relevant networks. This idea of connecting to each other to construct knowledge is one of the key dynamics of a MOOC….The MOOCs were following the trend of Open Education movement described by Iiyoshi and Kumar (2008). The open educational movement focused on open technology, open content and open knowledge. The MOOCs have given rise to a more specific focus on the actual human networking factor within these open courses.”

Touches on a lot of thought-provoking (and — therefore, for me — comment-provoking) threads… social learning… connectivism… where to start?!? (You can find more info from this source here.)

Interested in jumping into a MOOC? Here’s an opportunity for you to join the EduMOOC, offered by The Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at the University of Illinois Springfield. Topic? “Online Learning Today…and Tomorrow.” It’s going on now and continues through August 19.  Here’s their description:

“It is totally open, free, and collaborative. It can be totally asynchronous, or those attending can join in weekly panel discussions with experts in various aspects of the topic. This is an active and growing resource and networking center on the topic of “Online Learning Today, and Tomorrow.” You will have the opportunity to meet many people around the world who share your interest in this topic.

“You are invited to register (see right column) with only your name and email address so you can be given access to all materials, panels and discussions. Within a day after you register, you will admitted to Google Group Edumooc which will allow you to enter into discussions and – if you so designate – to receive a listserv of postings. You are invited to list your networking contacts such as email, blogs, twitter, etc. at the form linked in the left navigation column….

“We are elated to see enormous interest in this topic!  Since the Monday morning announcement of the MOOC, we  have  enrolled more than 2,500 participants from some 65 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas; still no one has identified as themselves from Antarctica, but we remain hopeful!  Those participating are from colleges, universities, community colleges, libraries, school systems, educational association, and many other entities.”

I signed up, but — quite frankly — I wasn’t keen on creating yet another e-mail address (a gmail address is required). If you’re game to see what’s going on, here’s the link.

A lot of great information is appearing on the Web about MOOCs… mostly because the sessions themselves generate thousands of posts and links and … stuff!

Here are just a few places to start:

“A Massive Open Online Class for Edupunks” from the Education-Portal.com site.

“U of Illinois at Springfield Offers New ‘Massive Open Online Course'” via the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Marc Perry.

And in this Chronicle article, credit goes to Stephen Downes and George Siemens for offering the first MOOC and the rationale behind it.

What Does This Have to Do With Associations and Non-Profits?!?

Plenty!

First of all, they’re relatively inexpensive to produce — free at their most basic level, because they’re conducted online and utilize readily available Web apps (wikis, bookmarking sites, etc.). If you want to pump it up a level, you could include the occasional Web conference event so participants can connect directly over the phone/Web, which would add $$ to your MOOC budget. If you do that, however, be warned: the point of a MOOC is to involve as many people as possible, so if you include this, you have to be mindful of the factors that can make Web conferencing counterproductive to the MOOC culture (i.e., time zones in particular are a challenge).

Second, the nature of a MOOC is in line with how knowledge is usually shared within association communities. Experts and novices alike come together at our annual conferences all the time to learn and re-learn and connect and share best practices, seek solutions to challenges, and in general swap resources and ideas. All of this happens in a MOOC, too.

Third, the MOOC facilitators really just facilitate! And participate. The facilitator’s role is to keep the resources roughly categorized (if needed) and maybe offer some guided questions or areas of discussion… The facilitator is never supposed to be the “expert.” Sage on the stage becomes “everybody on the stage.” Think of a MOOC as an educational flash mob :) Everybody is an expert. Everybody has something to share and something to learn.

Finally, MOOCs are catching on really quickly, and they’re sure to keep growing. They’re particularly popular right now in the academic environment and for those involved with developing online learning. Those who have participated in MOOCs are (as far as I can tell) coming out of those experiences like the newly converted — ready to carry the message, emulate what they’ve experienced by offering their own MOOCs, and advocating for their benefits.

MOOCs won’t replace any of the things we’re doing. As we’re always saying here, there are appropriate uses of various educational modes, and that’s true of the MOOC. But you need to know what they are, how they work, and how they’ll fit into your curriculum.

Why You Shouldn’t Ignore MOOCs

One of the biggest challenges you’ve been facing is increased competition for your members’ time and money. Maybe another organization beat you to the punch with Webinars. Maybe social networking sites such as LinkedIn are cutting into your membership renewals — why join your organization when people can connect for free outside of it?

Now imagine what happens if someone announces a MOOC on a topic that hits right in the heart of your members’ industry or cause?

Here are a few pretend examples (with apologies to any real-life organization with one of these names) :

  • The National Beekeeping Institute discovers that someone is offering a MOOC on starting your own beekeeping business. Who’s doing it? A passionate beekeeper — who’s also one of the orgs most respected leaders.
  • The National Novel-Writing Coalition discovers a famous romance writer is offering a MOOC on writing and publishing.
  • The Association for International Envelope Manufacturers discovers a vendor member is offering a MOOC on equipment — finding, selecting, re-selling, and recycling. This one MOOC will cover at least three face-to-face events the organization offers each year.

But remember: these are “MASSIVE OPEN Online Classes.” They will attract people from around the world. Competitors. Members. Non-members. Everybody.

So this is the promise — and threat — of MOOCs. As with all innovations, you need to figure out how to leverage the promise of MOOCs to your advantage. You need to be aware of the potential risk they pose, if you have content that’s highly prized. With a MOOC, if it’s not proprietary, it’s fair game.

What To Do?!?

So… what should be done about MOOCs? Refuse to stand on the sidelines. Ignoring MOOCs is not a good idea. This leaves two primary options:

  • Offer your own. Amass a greater body of resources around a topic than you currently have. Involve your members and attract non-members. See the power in numbers, the value in “more heads are better than one.”
  • Make your resources available to MOOCs by others. Instead of fighting a MOOC on “your” topic, join the MOOC and offer up your own links, white papers, articles, blog posts, and comments. If you can’t fight ‘em, join ‘em!

You’re either in or you’re out. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

 

Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Trends, eLearning Resources, Online Learning in General, Social Learning, Webinars | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Get ICEd!

Posted by Ellen on July 13, 2011

It’s a wonderful thing when you stumble across an article that says exactly what you’ve been trying to find the words to express…. That’s what happened when I started reading Rick Wilson’s article, “Learning Content is Not Your Job Any More: The Effect of Convergence” from  e-Learning Guild’s Learning Solutions e-magazine (June 21, 2011 issue).

I’ll try to summarize without duplicating the article, which is worth the time to thoroughly pour over. He starts with two new rules about learning leaders’ responsibilities:

“Rule One: You are no longer in the business of learning content development and delivery.”

“Rule Two: You are in the business of bringing dexterity to your content.”
This is because of the “convergence” of learning content within an organization: educational events and training aren’t separate from other organizational content, not anymore. Learning isn’t a series of courses, not even within a curriculum. Instead, we’re amidst a convergence of all institutional knowledge.

So instead of spending our time and energy creating new courses and sessions and learning events, we need to devote ourselves to “intelligent content engineering” (a phrase he credits Joe Gollner with) and is, essentially (to paraphrase Wilson), rendering your organization’s content manageable, enhancing its searchability, and producing it “in formats that collectively create remarkable new value for the content.”

How awesome is that?

It’s what’s been called “knowledge management,” but from a learning point of view.

I know I say “This is critical” a lot in this blog, and I always mean it. That’s true for this concept as well.

Here’s why “intelligent content engineering” (let’s call it ICE for short — cool acronym, huh!?) is critical and why it’s such a great fit and opportunity for associations and non-profits…

Wilson goes on to cite these important statistics from Robert Eichinger and Michael Lomgardo from The Center for Creative Leadership:

  • 10% of learning can be attributed to formal instruction
  • 20% “occurs through other people informally, or formally through coaching and mentoring”
  • 70% is the result of “real-life and on-the-job experiences, tasks, and problem-solving”

Some might argue the actual percentages, asserting that the last category is more like 80%, with only 10% coming from coaching and mentoring, but the numbers aren’t as important as the general balance of them (or imbalance, maybe).

Associations and professional societies do a great job of hooking our members up to accomplish the first two, so they can exchange what they’ve learned through the third.

So it’s not that we haven’t created an atmosphere for all three environments to be exploited.

It’s that we could be — should be — doing it better. And we could, with ICE. Two concepts about ICE in particular are essential: search (discovery) and distribution (delivery), “while also promoting contextualizing content,” writes Wilson.

Sounds deep. But we’re already doing a lot of that.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and here’s a brain dump:

  • We have lots and lots of tacit knowledge in our organizations. our members are experts on topics specific to the industries and professions we serve. (Member benefit: industry-specific resources)
  • We already connect members to each other so they can share best practices, help with problem-solving, advocacy, and in other ways where lots of heads are better than one. (Member benefit: networking)
  • We already provide our members with excellent (if we do say so ourselves) training to help them become even better at what they do. We do this with our face-to-face sessions and online. (Member benefit: professional development and certification)

But we’re missing something. And that something is an engine that makes it all much faster and easier. It’s more than a discussion list with links… more than a Web-accessible library of white papers, articles and research reports… more than an internal social networking space… more than an online marketplace where members can get books, online courses and tutorials, and other materials.

It’s something bigger than all that, something that ties them all together.

Wilson says the processes we use will have to change; we won’t just be designing and offering FTF and online educational sessions. “Processes remain important,” he writes, “but processing is now about content ingestion, aggregation, cataloging, indexing, orchestration, curation, transformation, and transmission.”

He goes on to say, “Success will require an ability to facilitate an organizational-specific model with variable options for content access and use, including end-user abilities for authoring, publishing, and distributing content. You are going to need provision for managing the content generation from virtual communities, social networks, and exchanges outside organizational control (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, industry blogs, and ad hoc media sources.”

In effect, he concludes, we won’t be developers of educational sessions anymore. We’ll be content curators — adding another voice to others who have predicted this same future for us.

I’ll add a few more aspects to this entire conglomerate that is ICE: the system (whatever it will be that will make searching and accessing all of these resources possible) will have to provide for learners to download, link to, and otherwise “extract” the pieces and parts that are of the greatest value to them. Why?

  • Our members will want to design their own personal learning environment (PLE), and we have to make it easy for them to do that. I’ve said it before — if we can provide them with the *ultimate* environment for creating their professional PLE — we’ll have provided a benefit that puts us ahead of our competition. If we are the conduit — if we become their primary feed, for example — for their Twitterfeed, blogroll, and general Web resources filtered by search/category, then we have made it easy for them to access the latest info and data in the fastest possible way.
  • The increasing creation of personal learning networks (PLNs) means more and more of our members will be sharing resources with more and more contacts. As members link up outside our organization (yes, it happens; get your head out of the sand already!), they’ll come across more and more resources that would benefit all of our members to be able to access. Why not be the conduit for that?!?
  • Most importantly, the system must provide a well-publicized opportunity for members to share *their own* expertise. What blogs to they write? What articles have they published? What advice do they have to offer? What problems have they solved? Including the knowledge intrinsic in your association is what will truly set your ICE system apart from even a very good Google search. Encouraging — urging — members to directly contribute content can pull in remote and otherwise inactive members on the one end and provide a platform for those who wish to increase their professional profile on the other. Regardless of your members’ reasons for contributing, everyone benefits.
  • Your ICE system must be more than a news reader. More than a blogroll. More than a wiki. More than a social network. This is a dashboard portal that delivers immediate access to key resources and quality results from any search. It’s a system that allows members to rate entries and comment on them. It’s a system that allows members to add links and participate in updating and managing it. It’s a churning, ever-growing system.

Future members of our associations aren’t officially called the Google generation, but they should be. They’re growing up accustomed to being able to find answers to their questions, solutions to their problems, and connect to people worldwide with a few clicks. “Time is the new currency,” someone said.

If we don’t create an ICE system for our members, somebody else will. Then you’ll really have something to worry about when it comes to member renewals, don’t you think?

Do such systems exist? Yes. Wilson’s article describes one in place at a large corporation  — but with annual maintenance costs of over $1 million, it’s prohibitively expensive for most associations.

Even so, we should advocate for the development of such systems at lower cost and structured for our needs.

Who’s with me on this?!?

Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Trends, Justifying aLearning, Learning in General, Online Learning in General, Social Learning | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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