aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

Pulling Back the Curtain on the 2011 aLearning Association Survey

Posted by Ellen on October 15, 2011

A few things about the recent aLearning Association Survey that you need to know, and that I need to get off my chest.

Being a lifelong learner doesn’t just mean continuing to take classes, stay informed, and all of that… it also means being willing to learn from each experience. Maybe the “post mortem” experiences I had as an elearning project manager for a custom content development company have become a part of the way I naturally do things, so that after nearly every experience I think: “How did that go? What went well? What didn’t? What can I do differently next time to make the experience/situation go better?”

I’ve already mentioned that I didn’t ask at least one question clearly enough to get numbers that could be used to answer a few other questions as well… something that will be corrected next time.

And here are some other questions you might be asking about the survey itself:

Why Was the Survey So Short??

Everything aLearning does is the result of balancing what we can do ourselves, get for free or accomplish at minimal expense. There are a lot of reasons for this, and one of them is to demonstrate to you (practicing what we preach) what can be done with a shoestring staff and budget.

So we use the free version of Survey Monkey for our surveys. This limits us to 10 questions, and requires that any sort of report breakdowns be done manually. Which is what we did to give you the results by category — I just see a summary of all responses or I can see anonymous, individual responses. No reports.

I suppose we could have done a few surveys of more depth that focus on one area (and maybe we’ll try this in the future), but we’re also aware that you get requests to do a LOT of surveys… so we like to keep them short and easy to complete.

Using the free version of Survey Monkey is also why we’re unable to automatically enter everyone who completes the survey into the drawing — and why you have to let me know separately that you’ve completed the survey and want to be entered. As with all things. We get what we pay for, and in this case, the price is still worth what we get in return.

How Did You Decide What to Ask?

Curiosity. We’re not motivated by anything else. We don’t have sponsors or advertisers or others who might have agendas, so we aren’t in danger of being wooed into asking questions that could support some hidden motive. In this case, we tried to ask questions that you might want to know about what others are doing.

How Many Respondents Did You Get?

As we said, too few respondents answered our call to offer what could have been a nice benchmark, unfortunately. We had fewer than 100 responses, and of those, some dropped out of the questionnaire before answering all questions.

Why Did So Few Respond?

That’s a good question and it has plenty of answers. We put the word out via the blog and through direct e-mails to aLearning supporters and contacts. Thanks to those of you who promoted the survey via your own blogs, Tweets, and other means, we saw a “lift” in the number of respondents. We’re grateful for the word-of-mouth attention we got, and hope to see this sort of support in the future. The endeavor isn’t large enough to afford other means of promotion, so we’re happy to see this sort of response.

What’s It All Mean?

So what does all of this mean? Well, on the downside, fewer respondents than we would have liked means results that don’t provide reliable benchmarking.

On the upside, we’re able to respond individually to the requests for information we get and otherwise form friendly bonds with the aLearning blog readers. We got enough responses to provide a broad picture of what various organizations are doing based on the size of the organization, and to look at the data from a few other perspectives as well.
We don’t accept advertising and — despite lots of requests to allow guest bloggers who seem to want to promote some specific LMS or learning service — remain independent. Our independence means we can say what we want without worrying about alienating sponsors, advertisers, subscribers, clients, dues-paying members or other entities.

The only agenda you’ll find at aLearning is advocacy for association learning leaders (aka: YOU). The smaller your organization, the closer you are to aLearning’s heart.

So we don’t attract hundreds or thousands of survey participants. We often see several posts go by without a comment. But that’s okay. We’ll continue to provide what we can in the best way we can do it….

…and serving as an inspiration along the way, we hope!

And though the summary of the results is now concluded (those of you who requested a report will get one soon), we hope this opens a dialogue — let us know what you’re doing that might not have been mentioned. Feel free to add clarity to any of the responses you gave that deems it.


Let’s open the door as wide as we can so we can get everybody who wants to improve their elearning and social learning options can get into the room šŸ™‚

2 Responses to “Pulling Back the Curtain on the 2011 aLearning Association Survey”

  1. Ellen:

    The survey provides valuable exploratory information that identifies things of interests and points you towards issues to delve into more deeply in subsequent surveys. By definition an opt-in sample (versus random selection) is a discovery sample, versus a predictive sample. Thus sample size is not really an issue. The non-completion pattern is also valuable information. I would say that on balance, the exercise was a success. Job well done.

  2. Ellen said

    Thanks so much, Mary! I appreciate your helping me learn a bit more about survey types and how they relate to sample sizes and discovery/predictive samplings — a true example of “social learning” šŸ˜‰ I’ll relax a bit more with future surveys, knowing that I’m on the right track with them.

    General note to all readers: the survey results (this series of posts) and a bit more information have been pulled together into a more readable report. Please contact me directly if you’d like a copy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: