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Online Learning for Trade Associations

Archive for July, 2010

Locked Down – Counter to All Social Media Advice

Posted by Ellen on July 30, 2010

I haven’t ranted in awhile but I just got an e-mail that ticks me off. I won’t name the organization here — at least not yet — but here’s essentially what the message says [italics added and the association’s name — obviously — changed]:

Thank you for your subscription to ZZZ Association’s LinkedIn Group.  A recent review of our records indicates your LinkedIn profile does not link to our membership.   Because subscription to this group is a member benefit which provides access to key connections and discussion opportunities your subscription will end effective August 13, 2010 unless it is affiliated with a current ZZZ Association membership.   If your membership has expired, you can reactivate it today by going to XXX Website or you can call our member service center at ZZZ-ZZZ-ZZZZ.

Well how about that! I didn’t know I had to be an association member to connect via “their” LinkedIn group.

First, is this permitted within LinkedIn?

Second, what about that letter makes me want to renew? (Hint: nothing)

Third, isn’t it just wrong to handle this situation in this way? (Hint: obviously I think so)

Or am I just being too grumpy?


Okay, I’ve slept on this… and I realize that, of course, anyone who sets up a group in LinkedIn can decide who joins and who doesn’t (not a LinkedIn policy issue but rather the choice of the group about its members).

Which leaves the last two questions, which I’ll address again in reverse order, in more detail… please chime in…

Isn’t it just wrong to toss someone out of your LinkedIn (or other non-proprietary social network [SN]) group because they’re not a member of your association? I guess it depends on how the organization defines its purpose for the SN:

  • If the purpose is to replicate what already happens within the organization’s listservs, forums, and any white-label SN it has, then it makes sense to ban all non-members.
  • If the purpose is to widen the association’s reach, entice non-members to join (by giving them a taste of the sort of dialogue that already goes on inside the association), keep non-renewing members in touch (so they’ll be more inclined to re-join later), and provide another online avenue for current members to contact each other, then it doesn’t make sense to tighten the cinch on the network.

I have contributed to the organization as a volunteer in several ways over the years (writing for its publications, serving as a presenter at its conference, etc.). I haven’t renewed for several reasons, primarily because I’m no longer employed by an association that can take on the (for me) significant dues payments.

So getting an e-mail that’s as starkly clear as “Pony up your renewals dues or we’ll lock you down” ticks me off. It conveys all kinds of things, but primarily it says this to me:

All we really want is your money. We don’t want you to get any value from our organization unless you pay us for it. We are a closed group and only those who pay the admission fee are permitted to enter and interact.

So to the final question: What about this letter makes me want to renew?

Let’s see… do I want to pay $XXX to be a member of a group that doesn’t seem very interested in the voices of those outside their membership?

I’m thinking… no. I’d rather be a member of a group that

  • listens to its members: all the SN experts within the membership (at least those I know of) would advise this organization to keep the LinkedIn group open to everyone. The point of a SN is to connect people, not disconnect them.
  • listens to those who are not members: otherwise you live in insularity. There’s a huge difference between seeing the world through a window from the safety of your house and going outside to experience it. So if you have to be inside your house, isn’t it a good idea to be in touch with people who are out in the world and can inform your worldview?
  • appreciates the opportunity to stay connected with a member who has contributed in the past: isn’t a LinkedIn group a perfect (and inexpensive!) way to keep in touch with those former members? Otherwise, aren’t you suggesting that you could give a rat’s butt about what they’ve done for you in the past? 
  • isn’t all about the money: yes, dues are important revenue streams (though some experts have been saying for quite awhile it’s a model that must change) but as soon as I get the feeling that all I am to an organization is an open wallet, then I’m turned off.

What am I missing? Am I still just being grumpy, despite a good night’s sleep?


Posted in Learning in General, Social Learning | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

Converting Twitter Feeds into Daily eNewsletter

Posted by Ellen on July 22, 2010

Have you heard of this? Seen it? Very cool… will convert the articles, videos, and other referenced resources from Twitter feed into a neat daily enewsletter. Here’s the #assnchat enewsletter:

Maybe this provides an alternative for your members who don’t want to follow the confusing, fast flow of Tweets.

Also a nifty way to create a daily enewsletter: choose links to Tweet based on the enewsletter you want to create on the other end. Slick, eh?!?

Check it out.

Posted in aLearning Trends, eLearning Resources, Social Learning | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

More Quick Links

Posted by Ellen on July 21, 2010

Read on for another series of summaries to save you time and give you leads to posts you might find of value:

Social Learning and Social Media

Discovered Renee Robbins’ Learning Putty blog just in time to see her great post, “22 Social Learning Strategy Questions to Answer Before Your Next Lesson.” If you’re looking for a place to start your social learning strategy, you can convert her series of questions into checklists and be on your way!

And here’s the Wild Apricot Blog’s recommendation for Jay Baer’s One-Page Social Media Strategy Worksheet and how to adapt it to your nonprofit.  

Oldie but goodie: The graphic included in The Upside Learning blog’s “Elements for Constructing Social Learning Environments” post is a great visual summary of the various online tools people use to pull resources to them on the subjects and conversations and areas of knowledge in which they want to stay current. 

But if you’re looking for a great intro to social media — maybe you need something to share with your education committee or board members that helps sort out all the social media options and what they do, take a look at Jane Hart’s “Pick of the Day” post and go to the clickable version of the graphic here.

eLearning vs FTF

Mark Berthelemy at Learning Conversations has thrown down the gauntlet: which would you pay for, case studies and videos of presentations, or a face-to-face event with emphasis on conversation and discussion? Take the poll (or check in for results).  

Learning Objectives Debate

The great debate on learning objectives rages on. Jeff Hurst stakes a stab at it in his MidCourse Corrections blog post, “Improving Your Conference Education: Begin with the End in Mind.” Phil Green gives his perspective in his Onlignment post, “After you have completed this e-learning module you will be able to…”

Telling Ain’t Training (Let me repeat that….)

Sahana Chattopadhyay at “ID and Other Reflections” has a great summary (based on her reading of “Telling Ain’t Training” by Harold J. Stolovitch and Erica J. Keeps) of the distinctions among key terms in her “Training, Instruction, and Education… we need ’em all” post.

Data Supports It: eLearning is Less Expensive than FTF

Looking for a close analysis of why elearning is less expensive than instructor-led, classroom-based, travel-required training? See this ASTD article, “Cost Comparison: Instructor-Led vs. E-Learning,” by Paul T. Walliker.

LMS Options for Instructor-Led Programs

If you’re like me, you’d rather find everything you can on your own before involving a company rep to give you the walk-through and sales pitch. Though few companies offer quality demonstrations you can access on your own, iCohere has an overview of NACS (National Association of College Stores) offerings you can take a peek at.

If you’re considering Blackboard and want to see what they offer associations, you can find descriptions here

Solar Energy International (SEI) offered conventional online courses using a traditional LMS until they found that the system they built in-house was no longer adequate — scale had surpassed their capacity, and security issues became increasingly challenging to meet. You can see their case study, including the final choice they made, here.

Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Surveys, aLearning Trends, Asynchronous Learning Types, eLearning Resources, Financing eLearning, Justifying aLearning, Social Learning | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

PowerPoint Versus Books

Posted by Ellen on July 17, 2010

Kudos to Tom Kuhlmann at the Rapid E-Learning Blog for posting “Want to Build Better E-Learning Courses? Think Beer.” Not so much for the beer analogy but for defending (as I have here, in at least one past post) the rightful place that informative courses have in the world of elearning:

“You’re either viewing or doing.  There are plenty of compliance and annual review type courses that are mostly informational.  While we could argue that all all courses need to be performance-based, that’s not going to happen.  Besides, the course is just one part of the learning process and sometimes all you need is information.

“It’s kind of like a text book.  Some you just read and reflect.  But some are workbooks that provide exercises for you to practice what you’re learning.  They all have their place in the learning process; just like elearning courses.”

But here’s the thing: in his comment, Den DiMarco wrote:

“Based upon the statement “It’s kind of like a text book. Some you just read and reflect.” the question that occurred to me is this:

“For this type of information delivery, why not just create a text document or a rich text document using, say, Microsoft word?”

Here’s a great example of an answer (with thanks to Maddie Grant at SocialFish for posting the link) to Den’s question (which I haven’t seen Tom respond to yet):

Paul Adams at Google posted this slide deck and I got all wrapped up in it (and it’s a Saturday morning, beautiful outside, and my bicycle is calling to me). It explains some fairly complex ideas around social networking design and does it all without audio, embedded video, clickable content, or other interactions.

What makes it more effective than a textbook or straight-out Word document is Paul’s use of graphics to make his points. His carefully chosen illustrations enhanced the text so that I could absorb what he was conveying.

And how is that different than a text document with pictures?

It’s hard to get a progression of images to work in a text document. But you can with PowerPoint, and Paul uses that to his advantage in this deck.

Yes, PowerPoint has its drawbacks. But when it’s used well, it can provide informative content when that’s all that’s needed, and be more effective than a static text document, keeping learners engaged through the entire presentation — as I was.

Posted in aLearning Strategies, Asynchronous Learning Types, Online Learning in General | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Washing Dishes, Making Beds, and eLearning Strategies

Posted by Ellen on July 17, 2010

A good strategy is like washing dishes. Really.

I had my hands in a sinkful of dishes and that’s when it occurred to me. You don’t wash dishes knowing it’s the only time you’ll do it. You don’t wipe out the glasses and place them away in the cupboard thinking, “Whew! That job’s finally over. Won’t have to do that again for another ten years or so.”

Not unless you only use glasses on very, very special occasions.

Same thing with your laundry. Making the bed. You do these things over and over.

You don’t keep doing these things simply as a matter of ritual (though these tasks can become rituals), but because things have gotten messy and you need to straighten them up, clean things out, put every item back in its place so you’ll know where to find it again when you need it.

And so it is with a good strategic plan, right?

You don’t just go through the process once, tuck it away, and forget about it.

Or at least you shouldn’t.

Your plan should be something you revisit all the time. Maybe not three times a day or even once a day, but often enough that you keep it sparkling and shiny. Often enough that you get good use out of it.

Just like doing the dishes — you might dread it as a chore, but keeping those plates scrubbed clean is the only way to keep bacteria at bay!

If your elearning strategy needs help, aLearning: A Trail Guide to Association eLearning is an affordable, easy-to-follow set of instructions for creating and maintaining an elearning strategy, including tapping into blogs, wikis, and a other Web 2.0 tools for enhancing formal learning programs. See the sidebar for more information, including how to order.

And as many of you know, you can always post a question here or contact me directly via e-mail. I can’t make your bed for you, nor can I do your dishes (okay, I could…. ), but I can help give you guidance or even be the cheerleader on the side if you’d like.

Posted in aLearning Strategies | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »