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Don’t Assume Anything

Posted by Ellen on March 5, 2012

You’ve heard that old expression, right? Don’t assume anything, it makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me.”

Haven’t ranted in awhile, but I ran into one of those situations lately that had me swearing under my breath.

And it had to do with some of you, probably.

Yes, you. You who have your blog comments linked to particular response vehicles.

Nothing worse that reading a long post, getting into the point of view expressed in it, drafting and editing a thoughtful response, then starting to submit it when — wait! What’s this?!?!?

I have to have a FACEBOOK account or a TWITTER account or another some-such account to post my comment?!??!?!??

PUH–LEEZ!!

Has it not occurred to you that not everyone is enamored of Facebook or Twitter?

Sure, I’ve heard that it’s business-smart to have these accounts so I can keep my followers up-to-date and all that. I had a Facebook account for awhile, but cancelled it when I read the agreement (do you read those? If not, you really, really, really should), which said they could use what they wanted from what I posted there…. Yes, that’s what it said. It might be my property (my photos, for example), but by using Facebook I was agreeing that they could use it too, whether for advertising or other purposes. Hmmm…..

Maybe you’re comfortable with that, but I wasn’t. Personal (and business) choice.

I get all that.

But it’s not about you or me, remember?!?

It’s about your members. Your potential members. Your clients and potential clients.

How many are you gagging when you insist they use Facebook or Twitter or another specific account to contact you?

Who’s really benefitting? Not you. Not those who want to comment or contact you. The only ones benefitting are Facebook, Twitter, and the like.

And who is it you want to benefit?

Right.

Yes, I’m peeved about this. Anything that drives people to use one specific online tool or application to the exclusion of all others rankles me. Ruffles my feathers. Goes against my grain.

Why should someone else decide what tools I should be using? Why should you be deciding the tools your members must use?

Just because “everyone” is on Facebook doesn’t mean it should be the only avenue open. Remember what your mother used to say: “If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?”

I have nothing against people using Facebook or Twitter, mind you. I just choose not to use it and resent anyone trying to force me into it.

I’m guessing some (many?) of your members feel the same way. Even if you’ve surveyed your members and your profile says that 95% have Facebook accounts, that still means 5% of your members don’t have the same access. How will you reach them? How will they reach out to you? Aren’t they as deserving to be “in the loop” as the others?

Ah! Now you’re thinking. And thinking it through is always better than assuming anything.

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How Time Flies…

Posted by Ellen on January 27, 2012

…when you’re having fun, right?!?

And we have been having fun here at the aLearning Blog! Suddenly, it seems, we’re publishing our 250th post and celebrating five years.

Yep, five years. And so much has changed!

When aLearning published its first post back on January 27, 2007:

  • no LMS systems (that we know of at the time) were designed especially to meet the needs of associations and nonprofits
  • few (if any) research endeavors about online learning focused on associations and nonprofits
  • few (if any) organizations bothered to survey association learning leaders to find out what we’re doing in the field and how things were going
  • the number of association-specific blogs could be counted on the fingers of one person’s hands
  • social learning and virtual learning environments were mysterious, hocus-pocus, scary entities

A lot has changed over just five changes of the seasons, hasn’t it?!?

Top 100 aLearning Blog Posts

To celebrate this milestone, we’ve compiled an ebook of our Top 100 aLearning Blog Posts. Just skimming through these selections made us realize how quickly the elearning sands shift, affecting the landscape, even moving the horizon.

At over 200 pages, this compilation brings together in one place the best — and most controversial — writing from the aLearning Blog. We’ve included most comments (the fine print is that we’ve deleted pingpacks, backtracks, and outright sales pitches) and are proud of the attention the aLearning Blog has garnered over the years by elearning and education experts.

To Get Your Copy

We’ve made this e-publication very affordable at just $5. To order, go to www.ellenbooks.com/store.html and click the “Buy Now” PayPal button. You should be able to read this PDF from any device with a PDF reader (such as Adobe Reader).

Special Offer

If you’ve purchased aLearning: A Trail Guide to Association eLearning, we’ll send you a copy of the Top 100 Posts for free. Just send Ellen an e-mail at ellenbehr@aol.com and attach an electronic copy of your Lulu receipt, and we’ll send you the Top 100 Posts by return e-mail. We appreciate your support and are happy to say “thank you” in this small way.

Thank You!

Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Surveys, aLearning Trends, Conferences, eLearning Marketing, eLearning Resources, Financing eLearning, Justifying aLearning, Learning in General, LMS, Measuring Results, Online Learning in General, Social Learning, Webinars | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Quick Clicks

Posted by Ellen on October 10, 2011

A big THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to the recent aLearning Association Survey… while we compile the results into readable posts for you (watch for new posts with the results)… here are some quick resources for you.

eLearning Glossary

ASP? CMS? CMI? ILS? Looking for a great glossary of common elearning acronyms and terms? Look no further than the e-Learning Guild’s Learning Solutions’ magazine glossary, found here.

Tutorial Tools

And here’s another great article from Learning Solutions. If you’re considering a tool for creating your own tutorials and asynchronous, online courses, don’t assume Articulate Presenter or Adobe Presenter are your best choices. See “Making Sense of PowerPoint Pandemonium” by Mark Simon in the September 14 issue for a great summary of these tools, plus iSpring’s Presenter (aLearning’s choice) and Lectora’s Snap.

Should You Charge for a Webinar?

If you haven’t read Jeff Cobb’s great post, “Webinar Strategy — The Inform/Perform Distinction,” you’re missing some great advice on how to decide whether to charge for a Webinar or not. What’s even better, his recommendation for those you should offer free should cost you less (if anything) to provide than it will cost you to offer those you would charge a fee for. When the financial numbers make sense, the instructional design makes sense, and the strategy makes sense, then you know the idea is sound.

Thinking of Producing Your Own Webinars? Here’s Help

See Susan Kistler’s summary of some “Low-Cost Webinar Production Tools” at the AssociationTech blog — note that she isn’t comparing different Webinar platforms but describes GoToWebinar by Citrix and the tools one organization uses for editing, archiving, and hosting. I’ve not used GoToWebinar, but if it requires post-production audio editing, you’ll want to try it out before you commit to it so you can reduce the amount of extra work involved in making the session available in recorded format.

More on Learning from Webinar Recordings

What are the advantages to recorded/archived Webinars? Take a look at this post from Donald Clark. His point is related to higher ed lectures, but the same likely holds true for our purposes as well.

Encouragement for Starting Your Social Learning Initiative

Looking for inspiration about how easy it is to get started with social learning? See “Implementing Social Learning: Start Small, Start Now” by Bill Cushard.

Want more specifics on how implementing social learning can be accomplished? See Cushard’s post, “Practical Ways to Design Social Media into Your Training Programs” at his Mindflash blog.

Ohhh… and there’s so much more, but that’s all I have had time to review for now… !

 

Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Trends, Asynchronous Learning Types, eLearning Marketing, eLearning Resources, Financing eLearning, Social Learning | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What Would Your Members Say?

Posted by Ellen on August 30, 2011

When you spend a lot of time in an RV on the road, visiting different places, staying in various campgrounds, parks, and RV resorts, you realize what your expectations can be, based on the name of a place.

A campground, for example, traditionally includes places for tents, which means a bathroom facility that also includes showers (unless the campground is considered “rustic,” in which case, you can expect no such facilities to be on the grounds). At the other end of the scale, a resort is usually a meticulously landscaped property that often includes a pool, spa, and other amenities — horseback riding, or a clubhouse with activities and game room. We’ve stayed at resorts that only allowed certain types of RVs (yes, it’s permitted by law), and cost more than a room at a bed and breakfast.

This is important background for the point I’m going to make. Stay with me here.

We’ve stayed at a couple of places that were advertised as “resorts” and ended up being — on the high end — family campgrounds with a dilapidated miniature golf course and a campfire ring as the “resort amenities.” At another “resort,” the pool turned out to be above-ground, the horesback riding option cost more than a night’s stay, the “lodge” was being used as a private residence…

We don’t mind rustic as long as the facilities are usable and the power is reliable (faulty power feeds can destroy the electrical circuitry in an RV… an expensive repair), so we considered the experience an adventure and spent our spare time watching frustrated RVers pull in only to leave again. Yesterday we watched a man who’d come with two kids photograph the broken swingset, unsafe picnic tables, and “Out of Order” sign on the ladies bathhouse door. No doubt he’d thought the kids would be entertained with the hiking (we’ve yet to find the trail), volleyball (or a net), cookouts (don’t see a grill anywhere)… Today they’re gone.

So the first message in all of this is:

  • Advertise accurately. Don’t advertise something you’ve stopped doing or plan to do. Promote only the things your members can expect from you on a regular basis.
  • Think about your name. What expectations are you setting for potential members? If call yourself a “resort,” people will expect certain things from you and they’ll leave, dissatisfied, if you don’t. What do your new members expect from you? Are you delivering on your promises?
  • Don’t make excuses. When somebody says, “You call this a resort?!?” don’t say, “Well… eventually we’ll have cookouts… and hiking… and a spa… and an in-ground pool… it takes awhile to get there.” Nobody wants to hear their timing is bad and they’re missing the good stuff. Don’t say, “We just took over and the place was such a wreck it’s going to take awhile to get it into shape.” Nobody wants your whining. They just want what you promised them and they’re understandably upset when you can’t deliver it.
  • Accentuate the positive, as an old lyric goes. If the place is rustic and out of the way, say so. People who like “rustic” will stay and say nice things about the place, instead of leaving frustrated, angry, and feeling they’ve been had.

Which leads me to the next part of this analogy. Out of curiosity, my husband looked up this particular “resort” on the Web to see what others had to say about it, and post our experiences. We weren’t surprised to read a list of complaints by those who’d come expecting one type of experience but left upset. We posted a cautionary but accurate review: yes, the property has its issues, but we like that it’s quiet and off the beaten path; those looking for a “resort” experience ought to look someplace else.

The RV world has many forums and bloggers. RVers are an honest lot, and they like to share their stories. When RVers meet, they swap suggestions about attractions, restaurants, and places to stay. Word of mouth — especially via the Internet — is loud and long.

So — here’s the real question: if there were an online forum for reviewing associations, societies, institutes, councils, and other non-profits, what would former and current members be posting about you?!?

  • Does your membership brochure match what they’ll actually get? Or are you setting expectations you can’t meet?
  • Are your dues and fees fair? Or are you leaving members wishing they’d saved their money for something else?
  • If they could post a comment on a forum about the associations they’ve been members of, what would they say about yours? Would they recommend others join? Or would they warn other people against joining? Why?

All of this could be true about any aspect of your organization: what would they say about volunteering? Membership benefits? Educational experiences?

  • “I spent three hours a day of my own time on Project X for this association and then they completely ignored our group’s findings and recommendations… that’s the last time I do that!!”
  • “For $200 a year I get a magazine. Everything else is geared to attending face-to-face sessions I can’t afford to attend. This is my last year as a member. I can get a magazine for a lot less money.”
  • “They have some of the best educational sessions I’ve ever attended. If you haven’t been to one, go! They’re a little pricey, but you’ll get a lot out of them.”

There might not be an “associations forum” where people post their reviews of their membership experiences the way they do RV campgrounds, parks, and resorts, but they are sharing their experiences.

What are they saying? And what can you do about it?

Posted in aLearning Strategies, Conferences, eLearning Marketing, Learning in General, Measuring Results | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Cyber Monday = 25% Off the aLearning Trail Guide!

Posted by Ellen on November 29, 2010

If you missed the free shipping offer for Black Friday, here’s a Cyber Monday deal for you:

All orders received before 11:59 p.m. PST today  (Monday, November 29) are 25% off (up to $185… don’t I wish someone would order that many books!!). Just click the Buy Now – Lulu blue button on the left to find out more about the book and begin the ordering process. When you are ready to check out, type CYBER25 in the Code field to receive your discount. It’s that easy!

Select the download version for immediate access, or choose the print version if you prefer flipping pages and highlighting key points 🙂

Either way, it’s what Lulu is calling their best deal of the year, and on top of the already reduced price of the book, it’s a bargain for the 270+ pages of step-by-step activities and checklists that will guide you from start to finish in developing a workable elearning plan for your association or non-profit.

What are you waiting for?!?

Please note that Lulu prints copies as orders are received. This means delivery on or by a particular date cannot be guaranteed.  See www.lulu.com for more information about shipping and delivery schedules.

Posted in aLearning Strategies, Asynchronous Learning Types, eLearning Marketing, eLearning Resources, Financing eLearning, Justifying aLearning, LMS, Measuring Results, Social Learning | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »