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Online Learning for Trade Associations

Archive for June, 2009

5-cent Coffee and Free Horseback Rides

Posted by Ellen on June 28, 2009

FiveCentCoffeeYou’re barely inside the South Dakota state line when you start to see them: Wall Drug signs. Many of them sport 5-cent coffee come-0ns. Great idea! Who doesn’t love a bargain? And there’s no other obligation. Drop your nickel in the slot, add sugar and/or powdered cream to your liking, and fill your cup.

We ran into 5-cent coffee at another restaurant and even asked what the catch was. No catch. We even got real cream at this place. We’d stopped in for lunch anyway, but somewhere in our heads was the notion that because we were saving a few bucks on the coffee, we could spend that in another way.

If you know anything about coffee in restaurants, you know that it’s — in a regular coffee season — a real money-maker. (If you doubt my word, calculate out how many cups you can brew from what you buy in the store, then charge yourself a two dollars a cup and see how much money you’d make on that bag or tin of grounds or beans).

So it’s an easy thing to do — 5-cents a cup — it goes along way to curry favor with the customers, and it really doesn’t cost the restaurant much money at all (assuming they can’t break even on the five-cents, what with the water, cream, sugar, washing, and serving that goes with it).

One of the campgrounds where we stayed advertised free horseback rides. I asked my husband if we stayed a week if that got us a free ride, or something like that. He smiled and said, “Get this. If we both pay for a horseback ride, we get a night’s stay free.”

On the surface, that sounds like a deal, right? But here’s how it would have worked in our case: $45 each = $90 for the rides. What were we paying for one night’s stay? About $15. Hmmmmm……

Moral of the story? If you’re going to provide an incentive, work out every angle. In the Web world, they call it a “use case scenario.” The designers imagine every possible user for the site, and work through ever possible thing they might want to do on the site, then design it to include those features.

What are the use case scenarios for your members? Will your incentives hold up to them? Will you have a five-cent cup of coffee, or a free horseback ride?

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aLearning Trail Guide is NOW AVAILABLE!

Posted by Ellen on June 5, 2009

And for not a huge investment, either…!

After months of writing and weeks of editing and printing, the book is now available in print and downloadable editions through

Here’s the most important thing to know about this book: it’s about elearning in ASSOCIATIONS, not corporations. And it focuses on associations operating with a small staff — we don’t have a slew of internal graphics or Web people, so how do we handle the requirements of online learning? This book discusses ways to do just that.

And it’s affordable. Some people said, “You could charge a hundred bucks for that book, Ellen!” And sure enough, a book of this size – nearly 300 pages, chockfull of charts, activities, and other ways to get you to move from what you’re reading to what you need to get done — is probably worth more than the sticker price. But I know about budgets — tight ones and that — and wanted to price the book so it would be affordable for just about any association. Get a print copy for $35 plus postage and handling, or download it for just $25 (the green alternative, too).

Curious to see what’s covered? Here’s the Table of Contents as a preview:

INTRODUCTION:  WHY A STRATEGY? WHY A TRAIL GUIDE?                                       


1.             Trail Signs:  E-Learning Basics and Choices                                                                

2.             Trail Gear:  Technology Basics                                                                                   

3.             The Topography of eLearning                                                                                      

PART TWO:  CHOOSING THE TRAIL                                                                                  

4.             Strategic Alignment, Mission, and Purpose                                                                  

5.             Needs Assessment                                                                                                    

6.             Environmental Scans                                                                                                  

7.             Narrowing the Choices                                                                                              

8.             Mapping Content to Delivery                                                                                      

9.             Deciding Which Direction to Go: Development Methods                                              

10.          Checking Your Compass on Learning 2.0                                                                    

11.          Who’s on the Team? And What Are They Supposed to Do, Anyway?                          

12.          Marketing                                                                                                                 

13.          Estimating the Budget                                                                                                

 PART THREE: HIKING THE TRAIL                                                                                      

14.          Writing the eLearning Strategy                                                                                   

15.          Getting Buy-In                                                                                                           

16.          View from the Summit: RFPs, Legalities, and Other Necessities                                   

17.          Evaluating the Program                                                                                              

 CONCLUSION: Just the Beginning                                                                                           


A.            Examples of Asynchronous Courses                                                                           

B.            Sample Budgets: APFI Case Study        

For more information, including how to order, click here.

If there’s something the book doesn’t cover in the detail you need — drop me a line or make a comment here in the blog, and I’ll gladly provide additional information.

And please, if you see something in the book you disagree with, or have done things differently that worked better, please, please, send a comment and share your discoveries and successes! I might be a loud voice in the alearning world, but I know I’m not the only one that should be heard.

Looking forward to hearing Your Voice 🙂

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