aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

aLearning Maturity Model

Posted by Ellen on March 21, 2008

Jeff Cobb‘s question about why Bersin & Associates’ Learning Content Maturity Model doesn’t translate to association learning offered me a smooth transition into the aLearning Maturity Model I’ve been working on since reading the Bersin report.

If we’re to use a maturity model as a scale for where we are in a continuum, a model that tells us we’re operating at nearly all levels already doesn’t provide us with a clear indication of what to do next to move forward.

In the case of the Bersin LCMM, associations (as near as I can tell) are already operating pretty fully at all of the first four levels (Traditional, which is classroom delivery; Rapid, which is the speed of delivery; Collaborative, which is the use of teams in development; and Enterprise, which is volume of learners being reached and a variety of programs offered). The fifth level (On-Demand, which is “point of need” delivery) is where many of are headed — looking for ways to integrate social networking to facilitate the learner-to-learner/member-to-member communication that’s at the heart of informal learning.

Yet in the alearning world, most associations (as near as I can tell) are still in the early stages of learning about and trying out different types of online learning.

So I’m proposing the aLearning Maturity Model, which offers five levels in a continuum from basic online learning options through more complex and integrated systems.

Please see the sidebar for a link to this downloadable PDF, and let me know your thoughts about this.

Do the levels make sense to you? Do you see your association in the matrix? Where? Does the progression fit your strategy for furthering your association’s use of online learning as a delivery option for your educational programs?

Let the feedback begin!

2 Responses to “aLearning Maturity Model”

  1. Jeff Cobb said

    Ellen–I’ve only been able to look at the table briefly, but this looks on target as far as how I see associations progress in my work. The vast majority, I’d say, are still working on the jump from I to II. Question – Do you see Kirkpatrick fitting well with evaluation of social media-driven learning experiences (in level IV)? (Not a loaded question, I don’t really know enough to know) –Jeff

  2. Ellen said

    Thanks for your comment, Jeff! I’m glad you brought up the Kirkpatrick-aLMM Level IV link. Your question is excellent and honestly I hadn’t really thought through the relevancy of Kirkpatrick when it comes to social media-driven PLEs (personal learning experiences) except that some measure of return must always be the goal.

    Because the goal of conventional “courses” and social media-driven LEs is the same — the achievement of particular learning objectives and their eventual application to the real working world — then the answer is yes.

    Let’s say I have to make a certain decision on my job — deciding which vendors to send an RFP to out of a list of dozens of possibilities. So I log in to a forum of colleagues who have likely faced the same situation and I post a message describing what I’m looking for and asking for recommendations. Many responses come back, and in those responses I see about a half-dozen companies that have consistently been recommended. Let’s also say that along the way a few respondents have asked some questions that helped me further refine my specifications.

    I have achieved my immediate learning objective — to find out which possible contract candidates are most viable, based on my requirements (and my newly refined requirements, thanks to my colleagues). So Kirkpatrick’s Level 1 (Reaction) can be measured (my learning experience was positive). Level 2 (Learning) can also be measured (I learned that these six vendors are most worthy of sending the RFP to). Level 3 (Transfer) can be measured (I transfered what I learned into my working situation by using the six leads as my six targeted RFP recipients).

    Level 4 (Results) is always the hardest level to assess, but in this case I receive strong proposals as a result of the list, so one could say my application of what I learned delivered results.

    Perhaps I could also say that I saved time by not having to research all possible vendors and whittling the list to my own final six. If that had been a four-hour task, then I could multiply that by my hourly-wage equivalent and compare that to the amount of time I actually spent sending the forum messages, reading responses, and compiling the final list. The difference between the two would equal the time I saved and therefore the measurable results of the learning.

    Or am I stretching Kirkpatrick’s Level 4 to match? What’s your take on this, Jeff?

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