aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

Archive for September, 2009

What Makes Online Learning Effective?

Posted by Ellen on September 30, 2009

Isn’t this the million-dollar question? No? A couple hundred thousand, maybe? (Okay.  Maybe the answer is only worth a few hundred dollars.)

Whatever the value, a variation of this question has generated a terrific discussion in the ASTD LinkedIn group. The original post from Donna Gilliland, President of MOSTraining, Inc. read:

“Online Live Training: what challenges do you face? Have you started delivering training live online training yet? If so, which of the following tools to you use?”

She listed:

  • GoToWebinar
  • WebEx
  • Telspan
  • Others? 

Then she asked, “What do you find to be your greatest challenge in training live online?”

Several people chimed in, all of whom seemed to be focused on two key areas:

  • Presenters’ skills
  • Tools/technology

What’s missing here?!?


Yes, I’ll keep preaching this. Yes, my face is blue from repeating it over and over. And no, I’m not tired of repeating myself quite yet.

Why is content so important?

Because if your content doesn’t match the delivery mode, it doesn’t matter how interesting, entertaining, adept, practiced, experienced or knowledgable your instructor/facilitator/trainer is, the online event will fail. Completely.

If your content doesn’t match the delivery mode, it doesn’t matter how many polls, chat and breakout rooms you use, how pretty your slides are, or whether you use phone or VOIP, the online event will fail. Utterly.

So I’ll say it again: your content needs to be presented in a way that enables your learners to learn. Sounds obvious, but failing to do this is the primary reason most online events fail.

Webinars are a great example. They’re easy to conduct and attend, relatively inexpensive, and everyone seems to be offering them. Even when they should be doing something else (see When A Webinar Is a Bad Idea).

Only after you’re sure you have decided on the best delivery mode for the content you’re training should you be thinking about how you’ll handle the technical side of things, and choose the instructor.

Period. End of discussion.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get some pink back into my face 😉

Posted in aLearning Strategies, Online Learning in General, Webinars | Tagged: , , , , , | 7 Comments »

eLearning Learning Adopts aLearning!

Posted by Ellen on September 26, 2009

With many thanks to Tony Karrer, the aLearning Blog is being added to the eLearning Learning community. Not familiar with it? Check it out with a simple click in the lower right badge!

Powered by Browse My Stuff, this is a very cool aggregate of all the latest elearning information in one spot. And it aggregates a LOT! Just a few days away and there are dozens of new posts from an array of sites. The set-up makes it easy to view through Google Reader so you can quickly scroll past the items that aren’t of interest or clear all if you’re really feeling behind.

It’s hard to stay up to date on the latest when you there’s so much to keep track of. If you’re like me, I was reading about the foodservice industry  (our association’s industry), membership, training and HR devlopments, elearning, meeting and events planning, management (budgeting and all that), communications and marketing… Anything that makes getting through the morass of information faster was a welcome thing.

eLearning Learning’s feed of information will do that for you!

Posted in Blogroll, eLearning Resources, Learning in General, Social Learning | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Flip the Financial Model

Posted by Ellen on September 6, 2009

Dan Pontefract, in his Trainingwreck blog, has a great idea related to his Learnerprise 2.0 model: “Rather than investing 2/3 or more of a corporate learning budget to formal ILT and eLearning, why not flip the model and invest 2/3 on informal and social learning components and initiatives.”

If you buy into these beliefs (and you should):

  •  most learning is informal, rather than attained via ILT (instructor-led training) and formal e-learning courseware
  • social media (SM) and social networking (SN) are tools that help open the pathways for efficient informal learning
  • informal learning has been at the heart of most associations since the day they were founded — “networking” isn’t just about connecting members for business reasons, but what they learn from each other, consciously or not


You should look hard at your overall educational budget, making sure that you have more invested in informal learning opportunities than formal ones — perhaps at the 2/3 level Pontefract suggests.

Josh Bersin, discussing the results of the Bersin & Associates report, High-Impact Learning Practices: An Operating Guide for the Modern Corporate Learning Function, says, “The shift from traditional training to informal learning requires organizations to retool and develop new skills, add new technologies, and reorganize resources. Our research shows that learning organizations with expertise and skills in areas such as knowledge management, information architecture, community management, and performance consulting outperform those still focused on traditional training solutions.”

So here’s the good news: associations have traditionally been way ahead of corporations because networking, sharing of knowledge, and connecting have been so central to our missions.

Even so, it’s a good idea to ask:

  • What role does informal learning play in your association’s education strategy? How are you handling informal learning at face-to-face events? Online offerings? Social media/networking?
  • What should you be doing differently? What does this mean for the structure of your annual conference?
  • How will doing things differently affect your budget? How your volunteers contribute? Your sponsorship opportunities?

Should you be flipping your budget to divert more funding to informal learning than traditional events?

Are you already doing that?

What do you think?

Posted in aLearning Strategies, Justifying aLearning, Learning in General, Online Learning in General, Social Learning | Leave a Comment »