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Online Learning for Trade Associations

Posts Tagged ‘social networking’

Don’t Assume Anything

Posted by Ellen on March 5, 2012

You’ve heard that old expression, right? Don’t assume anything, it makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me.”

Haven’t ranted in awhile, but I ran into one of those situations lately that had me swearing under my breath.

And it had to do with some of you, probably.

Yes, you. You who have your blog comments linked to particular response vehicles.

Nothing worse that reading a long post, getting into the point of view expressed in it, drafting and editing a thoughtful response, then starting to submit it when — wait! What’s this?!?!?

I have to have a FACEBOOK account or a TWITTER account or another some-such account to post my comment?!??!?!??

PUH–LEEZ!!

Has it not occurred to you that not everyone is enamored of Facebook or Twitter?

Sure, I’ve heard that it’s business-smart to have these accounts so I can keep my followers up-to-date and all that. I had a Facebook account for awhile, but cancelled it when I read the agreement (do you read those? If not, you really, really, really should), which said they could use what they wanted from what I posted there…. Yes, that’s what it said. It might be my property (my photos, for example), but by using Facebook I was agreeing that they could use it too, whether for advertising or other purposes. Hmmm…..

Maybe you’re comfortable with that, but I wasn’t. Personal (and business) choice.

I get all that.

But it’s not about you or me, remember?!?

It’s about your members. Your potential members. Your clients and potential clients.

How many are you gagging when you insist they use Facebook or Twitter or another specific account to contact you?

Who’s really benefitting? Not you. Not those who want to comment or contact you. The only ones benefitting are Facebook, Twitter, and the like.

And who is it you want to benefit?

Right.

Yes, I’m peeved about this. Anything that drives people to use one specific online tool or application to the exclusion of all others rankles me. Ruffles my feathers. Goes against my grain.

Why should someone else decide what tools I should be using? Why should you be deciding the tools your members must use?

Just because “everyone” is on Facebook doesn’t mean it should be the only avenue open. Remember what your mother used to say: “If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?”

I have nothing against people using Facebook or Twitter, mind you. I just choose not to use it and resent anyone trying to force me into it.

I’m guessing some (many?) of your members feel the same way. Even if you’ve surveyed your members and your profile says that 95% have Facebook accounts, that still means 5% of your members don’t have the same access. How will you reach them? How will they reach out to you? Aren’t they as deserving to be “in the loop” as the others?

Ah! Now you’re thinking. And thinking it through is always better than assuming anything.

Posted in aLearning Strategies, eLearning Marketing, Learning in General, Social Learning | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

2011 aLearning Association Survey Results Summary — Part 3

Posted by Ellen on October 13, 2011

Once again, our sincere thanks to the many association learning leaders who responded to our request to participate in the 2011 aLearning Association Survey and to those who promoted it. While we had the best response yet to an aLearning Survey, the number of responses wasn’t high enough for us to confidently suggest that the results serve as any sort of benchmark. Instead, we recommend that you use this summary as a way of seeing what other associations and non-profit organizations are doing in the way of online learning.

Past posts have summarized profiles of the survey participants, their staffing, budget, and online programs.

In this post we’ll take a look at how many of the respondents are using social learning.

Respondents were given these answer choices to a question about how often they have been using social learning:

Every Event
Every Online Event
Every Face-2-Face (F2F) Event
Some Online & Some F2F
Sometimes for Online Only
Sometimes for F2F only
Tried it but haven’t used it consistently
Have Never Used It

For summary purposes, we’ll use the following abbreviations:

EE= Every Event
EO= Every Online Event
EF2F = Every f2f Event
SOSF2F = Some Online & Some f2f
SO = Sometimes for online only
SF2F = Sometimes for f2f only
T = Tried it but haven’t used it consistently
N = Never

Remember, respondents were asked to use the number of members served, rather than the number of memberships to identify the size of their organization. (For example, a trade organization with 500 institutional members that serves 5000 individuals, should have identified themselves as an organization in the 3001-6000 category.) We can’t be sure all respondents followed this request, but we’re trusting that they did :)

Take a look at this table showing how various organizations are (or aren’t) using social learning elements with their programs:


I don’t know about you, but a few things stand out for me:

  • A lot of organizations, regardless of the number of members or staff size, has incorporated social learning in some way. And while we might assume that the larger organizations are more aggressive in this area, our results don’t support that assumption.
  • Some organizations have opted to incorporate a social learning component with every event; it seems that this would only happen if the benefit of doing so had proven well worth the additional time and resources required.
  • Social learning components are primarily tied to face-fo-face events, rather than online events.

This last item is a bit puzzling… Maybe social learning isn’t being implemented as an element of online events because those events are structured to allow for interaction with others — so there is no perceived need for a supporting “social” element. But that wouldn’t explain why, then, a “social” element would be desirable to supplement a face-to-face event, where — presumably — people are about to meet and talk one-on-one. Hmmm! I confess to expecting to see social learning linked to asynchronous events, as those tend to be situations with solitary learners. Supplementing them with social learning elements seems to make sense, don’t you think?

Some of those who commented remarked that they use Twitter but in a general way, rather than tied to specific programs. Another respondent remarked that every event incorporates social learning because all elearning is connected to their organization’s social network. Yet another said they require a social component within a formal, online certification program.

As usual, these variations indicate that associations and other organizations are navigating their way along the social learning and elearning paths… but what big changes do they see coming in the next year?

For that insight, watch for our next post, summarizing more of the survey results.

Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Surveys, aLearning Trends, Asynchronous Learning Types, Justifying aLearning, Social Learning, Webinars | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

What Would You Require in a Social Network?

Posted by Ellen on September 23, 2011

Planning to implement a social learning network? What requirements do you have for it? Need a starting place?
Here’s a list of 30 of the 40 items Joe DiDonato, editor-in-chief of Elearning! Magazine says you should consider:

1. Social Learning Network >> Profile Search
2. Social Learning Network >> Social Learning Games
3. Social Learning Network >> Photo & Image Uploads
4. Social Learning Network >> Audio Uploads
5. Social Learning Network >> Profile Viewing Log
6. Social Learning Network >> Video Sharing
7. Social Learning Network >> Video Chat
8. Social Learning Network >> Employee Store and Kudos Shop
9. Social Learning Network >> Groups
10. Social Learning Network >> Photo Albums & Images
11. Social Learning Network >> Events
12. Social Learning Network >> Forums
13. Social Learning Network >> User Points
14. Social Learning Network >> Blogs
15. Social Learning Network >> Invitations
16. Social Learning Network >> Preference Page
17. Social Learning Network >> Guest Book
18. Social Learning Network >> Violation Reporting
19. Social Learning Network >> Polls
20. Social Learning Network >> Classifieds
21. Social Learning Network >> Blocklist
22. Social Learning Network >> Contact Import
23. Social Learning Network >> Referrals System
24. Social Learning Network >> Ratings
25. Social Learning Network >> Friends and Circles
26. Social Learning Network >> Audio Player
27. Social Learning Network >> Send Noteworthy Profile to Friend
28. Social Learning Network >> Banner Management
29. Social Learning Network >> Syndication and Newsfeed Management
30. Social Learning Network >> Skins Management

This list is part of what he’ll be covering at an Enterprise Learning! Conference & Expo preconference workshop on September 27 in Anaheim, California. For information on the conference, click here. Cost of the workshop is $295.

The workshop on defining your requirements for learning management system (LMS) includes a 130-page handout with example requirements “to help you and your project team prepare your next RFP.” Interested in just the handout? watch the Elearning! website for information on purchasing it (be warned: they’re saying it will carry the cost of the workshop).

Have other ideas about what you’d require in your organization’s social network?!? We’d love to hear them!

Posted in aLearning Strategies, 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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