aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

Long Live Asynchronous Learning

Posted by Ellen on December 21, 2008

Reports of the demise of asynchronous learning are premature. I’m talking about all I’m hearing about Web 2.0 and the miracles that can result from tapping wikis, blogs, and other social media options — no argument here — and that it means our “old way of thinking” about asynchronous learning is just that — old and outdated. This is wrong and misleading.
It’s wrong because it focuses on how learning is deployed, not on the best ways to present content. Everyone who knows me — or has been reading this blog — knows this is my primary elearning pet peeve: not matching the content type to the best way to deliver it.

In this case, asynchronous learning is being discounted without consideration for when it should be implemented, and Web 2.0 is being heralded without qualification for the best ways it can assist learning. For example, let’s say you often have for-profit company representatives present at your educational events. They serve on panels as experts, or present general sessions. But there’s a problem: they like to promote their products or services from the podium. And when they have helped to donate to your program by providing monetary assistance, they sometimes feel they have the right to do so, sort of as a bonus for being a sponsor.

Of course this violates various IRS rules.

To help educate your members about what’s allowable and what isn’t, you could write up a document and email it, post it to your association’s wiki, and you could blog about it. Of course, all that assumes that once you point people to these resources, they’ll access them, read them, learn them. Some will, some won’t. So you still have the same problem.

A better option is to produce a short tutorial using something like FlashForm by Rapid Intake. You could include the guidelines, plus examples of what’s permissable and what isn’t, and you could link the short course to a system that will track whether they actually accessed the course and completed it. This sort of stand-alone, non-facilitated tutorial could be less than five minutes long — and who doesn’t have just five minutes? 

So yes, Web 2.0 has its benefits, and there are many of those, but don’t make the mistake of believing we should ditch the baby with the bathwater. The baby still has a lot of great years left in it!

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