aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

Playing the Match Game

Posted by Ellen on December 24, 2009

Long-time followers of aLearning know I’m a big advocate of matching learning content to its most appropriate delivery mode, so I’m always happy to see elearning colleagues offer their recommendations for the process.

Back in the October 5 issue of Learning Solutions, the e-magazine from the e-Learning Guild, David Wilkins gives excellent advice for transforming “social media” into “social learning.” Though his focus is on internal corporate training departments, which operate differently than small associations, he still offers some great fundamental recommendations that can be adapted to association learning.

Here’s my take, with thanks to David for the ideas:

1. Examine the origins of your associations’ best practices. Do they come from a few members, or do they emerge more wholistically across your membership? 

  • If they come from a few members, would they be willing to blog periodically about what they’re discovering and doing? Participate in a podcast interview?
  • If they come from the membership overall, perhaps through a discussion forum or listserv exchange, can the essentials be extracted and summarized in a wiki, blog, or other mode? Can content be tagged for easy filtering and retrieval?

2. Examine the types of learning that take place in your face-to-face events. Which — in whole or in part — are conducive to social learning?

For example:

  • Where are the expert-to-group information deliveries occurring? Couldn’t this information be delivered via Webinars or asynchronous events with live Q&A followup? A blog with comments? Isn’t the most important thing here the information, rather than the specific exchange? How about a simple FAQ?
  • When are facilitated group discussions for solving problems, analyzing critical issues (such as ethics), and other collaborative examinations taking place? Could online discussions accomplish the same learning goals? What about an online audio session?
  • Which events include skills training and practice? Can those skills be transferred to an online format? Could they benefit from a social learning option?

3. Explore the sources of your members’ expertise. Are they subscribing to particular blogs? Could your association provide an aggregate through your Website to them?

Social learning, remember, is just another mode. It doesn’t replace anyone or anything. It’s just another option.

How are you leveraging it? The bottom line is this: you’re either helping or standing in the way. Are you facilitating your members’ ability to learn from each other 24/7/365, or not?

Opportunities for leveraging social learning abound. Look around you. You should have more to provide your members than they will have time to access. Or you’re missing something.

What are you missing?

One Response to “Playing the Match Game”

  1. […] previous entry (“Playing the Match Game”) touched on some ways you can uncover existing or emerging content within your association that […]

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