aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

You Built It…

Posted by Ellen on February 22, 2012

But they haven’t come.

“Recent statistics from the 2010 Tomi Ahonen Almanac estimate that there were five billion cell-phone subscriptions worldwide at the end of 2010. To me, that says the opportunities for m-learning are limitless.” — Tony Bingham, ASTD President and CEO

However… This statistic includes non-smart phones. I carry a basic TracPhone. It’s primarily (prepare to be shocked) a telephone. It does have a basic text-message feature, but I didn’t buy it for any of that.

Though I’m surely in the minority for US professionals, I’m also sure that, globally, I’m in the majority.

What am I getting at?

Statistics are helpful guides. But they are no substitute for profiling your members, for finding out how many have smart-phones and use them for anything more than a quick Web search and e-mails. If they don’t, then you could invest lots of time and money in m-learning only to discover that your members are not tuned in to that delivery mode.

Think I’m crazy?

Know history or risk repeating it, right? Here’s one example: an association I know of jumped onto the asynchronous elearning bandwagon several years ago, when it was the shiny new thing in education. They invested thousands and thousands of dollars and hours of staff time creating fabulous elearning courses.

No one showed up.

Their members didn’t have access to the Web back then, at least not the bandwidth needed at that time for a successful online learning experience. Result? Disappointment and a much harder sell when elearning and the Web evolved to the point when such an endeavor made more sense.

Moral of the story?

Don’t just listen to the experts and what they’re promoting these days. Don’t make decisions simply based on statistical trends. Instead, turn your research inward: find out if your members are prepared — with the technology and attitude — for the implementation you’re considering.

To do less is to suffer the consequences of “Fire, Ready, Aim.”

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