aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

Handy Learning

Posted by Ellen on August 26, 2011

Last fall Tagoras published an update of its “Learning 2.0 for Associations” report and I posted briefly on it. Great research is worth more than one look, and this report is no exception. (If you haven’t taken a first look at it yet, stop here and go do that before you do anything else!)

I couldn’t help making some notes as I perused all of the great examples and the recommendations for various uses of Learning 2.0 options covered in the report. So, with a grateful nod to Jeff Cobb and Tagoras, here are a few more ideas related to Learning 2.0 for associations.

Although the nature of Learning 2.0 tools is that they enable us to deliver bits of content faster than ever, “fast” doesn’t guarantee learning will occur. For example, recording a short video with your smart phone, uploading it to YouTube, then Tweeting the link might be adequate for capturing quick visual nuggets, but it’s important to remember that effective learning requires context and — sometimes — additional scaffolding.

So here’s the deal: there are good matches for Learning 2.0 delivery modes to certain content, and then there are great matches.

Audio Podcasting

The uses of audio podcasting the Tagoras report covers are excellent, and the examples super. Podcasting has been very effective for those wishing to learn non-native languages. And while I haven’t looked for it (so it might exist), a series on bird calls would be of great interest to the birdwatcher in me. These subject areas are a great fit to podcasting because they’re audio-driven. You don’t need visuals to learn to recognize the song of the meadowlark or to learn what “?Donde est la banos?” means in English.

Content that doesn’t require visuals for learners to absorb and recall can work for audio podcasting. Content in which your members are keenly interested works especially well. For example, if you offer a certification program, you could do a series of quiz questions that serve as a “check what you learned” touchstone.

See the e-Learning Guild’s *Learning Solutions* article, “Five Tips for a Better Audio Podcast” by Mary Arnold (June 21, 2011) for some excellent tips.


Video podcasting can be a more effective training tool than when used to simply capture a speaker with a digital camera then uploading the video file. An even better fit for v-casting is to demonstrate processes — showing step-by-step instructions and descriptions. For example, how should an item be scanned in a self-checkout line in the grocery? How do you make a three-egg, ham and cheese omelet?

V-casting is particularly effective for showing and telling what something should look like. An even better use of video is to show what something does. How does it operate?

Visual processes that need full-motion rather than still photos to demonstrate clearly how to proceed are great matches for v-casting. For example, someone learning how to connect the sewer hose and its connector pieces for a recreational vehicle (RV) would benefit better from a short video with verbal instructions than an audio podcast or a manual (though the latter would make a great supporting job aid).

Making such a video should be done with care and forethought: plan the angles for filming so viewer will be able to see clearly what they need to watch. For verbal instructions, a basic script will help you remember all essential steps. It doesn’t have to be formal, but some planning will help you end up with a video that’s useful and effective.

Photos and Slide-Sharing

Sharing photos online is incredibly popular, but photos alone do not make a learning event. The power of Web-accessible photo galleries is how easy they can support an online learning event. For example, if an association of landscaping professionals wants to share examples of well-groomed lawns, a gallery on Flickr can support an online event that discusses how those lawns were cared for. People love “before” and “after” images, and providing them in a way that they can be viewed as often and as long as someone needs to see them is a great instructional enhancement.

If you haven’t read the Tagoras report on how slide-sharing sites are best used for PowerPoint, you’re missing out on a key reason why some presentations, simply posted online, just don’t work.


The report’s summary of blogging’s benefits for expanding and sharing knowledge is super. Blogging can be text- or image-driven, include embedded PowerPoint, video or audio files, and generally be a platform for summarizing events, offering opinions, and otherwise sharing information, knowledge, insight, questions… whatever!

But here’s what’s most valuable about blogging for learning: the opportunity to engage with others outside your regular sphere. You read a blog post that refers to another, so you follow that link and suddenly you’ve discovered another point of view. You post a comment and that blogger responds, and now you’re thinking more deeply than ever about this particular topic. You’re inspired to write your own post about it, and refer back to the other posts that led you down this path. Now your blog readers have opinions, and the original bloggers who got you thinking about it leave comments, too. With nearly every comment you’re processing and analyzing your perspective on the topic. Someone commenting refers you to a white paper or research report, and you follow that link and it leads you to even more insight.

Venturing into the blogosphere dialogue is like walking into a cocktail party where clusters of people are chatting about all kinds of things… Most people drift from one cluster to another, listening then moving on. Or listening, adding their own point of view, getting caught up in the conversation awhile before moving on. Some people, passionate about a topic, stay in the same cluster all evening.

There’s something else that blogging can do, too. A blog can serve as a platform for aggregating links: for example, summary posts with links tied to particular topics can give your members quick access to valuable resources. A blog can summarize the points of view on a controversial topic that affects your membership and provides a place for members to comment.

We’ve all seen examples of organizations posting blogs — often with interesting topics — but the “conversation” is one-way. The organization’s leaders sit back and say, “Why isn’t anyone commenting?” Well, maybe there isn’t anything for your members to say.

Think of the blog not only as a way to provide information, but to engage in a conversation — a conversation more in-depth than you can have via Twitter — and you’ll begin to reap true benefits from blogging.

The Tagoras report also covers wikis, social bookmarking, social networking, virtual events and virtual worlds, and, as I’ve said, expands much more on the areas mentioned here.

If you haven’t read the Tagoras report, it’s not too late to generate your own ideas about how Learning 2.0 options can work for your association!


5 Responses to “Handy Learning”

  1. […] Handy Learning Last fall Tagoras published an update of its "Learning 2.0 for Associations" report and I posted briefly on it. Great research is worth more than one look, and this report is no exception. (If you … Source: […]

  2. […] Handy Learning Last fall Tagoras published an update of its “Learning 2.0 for Associations” report and I posted briefly on it. Great research is worth more than one look, and this report is no exception. Source: […]

  3. Jeff Cobb said

    Thanks so much for the mention, Ellen – and for the great insights in each of these areas. BTW – for anyone who is wondering – the Learning 2.0 report is free! – Jeff

  4. Ellen said

    Hi, Jeff! As we both know, there are more ways to use these Learning 2.0 tools than most of us can dream of… and shame on me for forgetting to mention the report is free. We’re all over resources that are openly available — especially one that’s crammed full of so much great info and so many excellent examples. Thanks, Jeff!

  5. Knowledge said

    Essay Writing…

    […]Handy Learning « aLearning Blog[…]…

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