View from the Outside In
Posted by Ellen on November 3, 2007
Jeff Cobb offered a great presentation at the recent eLearning Conference hosted by ASAE and The Center, and posts about trends in association elearning in his blog, Mission to Learn.
During my attendance at the conference — and I made nearly every chat and session –I was impressed by the range of what associations are doing educationally, online. I was also amazed that there was so much talk and curiosity about the newest wave of online options — wikis, blogs, social networking, virtual worlds… especially Second Life, which I consider one of the leading-edge playspaces on the Web, populated primarily by geeks (I mean that in the most positive way, considering myself a “wannabe geek”) and entrepreneurs.
What surprises me about this is that from what I can tell, associations — by and large — are still struggling with the best ways to get buy-in from leadership to get into or expand online learning options, strategize those options, sort out the possibilities, figure out the budgeting, and then tackle the implementation of it all.
Because I came into the association world from the corporate Web world, I find this both inspirational and scary. I’m inspired by the unfettered curiosity and eagerness to jump in and do it. I’m scared for the associations that make that flying leap — without first understanding what makes online learning work — or not work — in the first place.
Maybe because I’m so new to associations that I’m convinced (correctly or not) that I can see things more clearly from the sidelines than the players can, but here are a few things I picked up on:
- Association staffers in charge of elearning wanted solutions to problems with content, subject-matter experts, finances, technology, and other operational issues. Questions kept coming up like, “How much would that cost?” and “How do I justify this to our leadership?”
- Associations offering elearning expressed frustration at having lower attendance/registration than anticipated, invested money in systems that disappointed or didn’t work, more to do than resources or time to implement, among other issues.
- No one seems absolutely clear about what all the online options are, how they are best used, and how to make the decisions that effectively map the needs to the solutions. “Do I need an LMS or not?” “If we offer asynchronous learning, don’t we have to have a live component like a chat to go with it?”
ASAE and The Center did a great job pulling this together, and the presenters tackled their topics with enthusiasm.
But it was clear to me that there’s a disconnect between the vendors and clients, between what’s perceived as important and what truly is, and between an often-used solution and the right solution.