aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

Joining the Fray on Web 2.0

Posted by Ellen on February 9, 2008

Jamie Notter, in his “The Myth of Control” blog entry, stirred up quite a blog ruckus (bluckus?).  Of course, a good bluckus means a great entry stimulated thoughtful and passionate comments and spurred more blog entries.

At the heart of the debate is whether associations are wise to be cautious in entering the Web 2.0 waters — what are the risks and are they overblown? Check out the full thread, including my own small voice in the fray.

Questions of liability and risk aside, we certainly need to face reality: social networking tools are here to stay, our members are becoming more adept at using them (and in many cases could be more comfortable in that world than we are), and we need to figure out how they could fit into our learning strategies.

Learning and networking are intricately tied.  Jay Cross has argued that informal learning isn’t 80% of how we gain new skills and information, but probably 90% or more.  Our members join not just for the chance to get away to a great city once a year or more to feed their minds, but nourish their relationships.

Social networking and information sharing on the Web helps them do that when they can’t attend. 

The question for us is how to leverage those options.  How do they fit into our learning strategy?  How directive do we need to be?

How directive are we when they run into each other at the national conference?  How carefully do we control their conversation there?  Do we set the agenda for what they’ll talk about when they get together over coffee or dinner?  Do we determine the topics when they bump into each other on the Expo or show floor?

How much control do we have, anyway?  Really?

Yes, those of you who saw the red flags I raised during ASAE and The Center’s eLearning Conference last fall will wonder about the turn-around, and I do believe that caution is the better part of valor, but I’m consistent in my suggestion that it’s all about the strategy, all about how we define the association’s online presence.

What do you think? Jumping in to Web 2.0? Watching to see how it works for other associations first?  Or defining your strategy for a cautious entry into the Web’s social environment?

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