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Online Learning for Trade Associations

Posts Tagged ‘ASTD’

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.”

Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Trends | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Stealing from the Rich…

Posted by Ellen on February 17, 2012

Stealing what works in elearning from the rich corporations, that is…

First, my usual caveat: we’re not corporations. We shouldn’t assume that everything they do is worthy of emulation by associations and other nonprofits.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them, right? And because the series we did that dissected what the ASTD BEST Award winners did in 2009 had so many hits (and still does), I figure it’s worth our time to look at some other companies, what they’re doing, and what we can learn from them.

Source? Way last summer Intrepid Learning released a white paper, “Learning Experts at Work: How Social Tools and Technology Catalyzed a Learning Renaissance.” It’s a great read in its entirety, but here are a couple of nuggets:

  • “…[T]he best learning cultures encourage people to help teach others in the organization. This happens at Google a lot. A company shouldn’t get in-between the learner and the expert. Otherwise, you can’t democratize the spread of knowledge. And that’s what the next decade will require.” So say Ann Farmer (Information Engineer) and Julie Clow (Manager of Learning & Organizational Development), both at Google.
    •  Would you describe your association as having a culture of learning? Why not? Inadvertently or not, are you standing between your members and the experts and mentors they need? What can you do to bring them together, then get out of their way? Is “the spread of knowledge” “democratized” in your organization? If not, why not? What can you do to encourage open exchange of knowledge and training?
  • At TELUS, a Canadian communications company, “field technicians carry video cameras with them, and, if they encounter a particular problem or situation for which they need assistance, they’ll shoot some video, feed it back to company headquarters, and within a short amount of time they’ll have answers from other employees on how to solve the problem. The videos are highly practical, not highly produced, and have made significant improvements in the training and effectiveness of field technicians,” writes Tony Bingham (President and CEO) at ASTD, describing an one of the case studies he includes in his book, The New Social Learning.
    • Are you using video? To what ends? This is an example that supports what the women from Google said in the previous point: democratizing learning — field techs sending problems to other field techs who provide solutions. Are there ways you could be using video — or audio or Twitter or other technologies (other than social networking platforms) to enable this sort of exchange? What could you implement that would help your members learn from each other?

Some other key ideas from this report:

  • According to Ethan Zuckerman (Senior Researcher) at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, we’re making a shift from an “Attention Economy” to an “Intention Economy.” “In an Attention Economy, companies produce products and create advertisements to capture viewer attention and, eventually, their dollars. In an Intention Economy, customers tell producers what they want and companies compete to meet their needs.”
    • Do you still see your educational offerings as products you need to “sell” to your members? If you have to “sell” them so hard, don’t you think maybe your members are already telling you something about that program (traditionally offered and beloved as it may be)?!? What are your members saying they want — and need — to learn about? What training are they asking for? What can you be doing to listen more carefully to them?
  • David Metcalf, PhD,(CLO Adviser/Researcher) at the Institute for Simulation and Training the the University of Central Florida says, “Looking ahead, I think we should keep our eyes on the concept of ‘learning theory mash-ups.’  This approach will allow us to achieve a level of granularity with each learning theory and will also enable us to apply the right technology to a very specific learning objective. This is very similar to a technology mash-up, which doesn’t try to re-invent each component in a monolithic structure.”
    • Is your organization working toward a technology goal of having a one-stop-shop for your members’ learning needs? Are you crawling out from under the traditional notion of “programs” and into the bright new day of integrated learning? Of seeing your offerings as interwoven opportunities for learning — beyond a particular curriculum? Why not? What can you do to knock down walls so your members can learn more and learn better from each other?
  • The 9000 globally-located Peace Corps volunteers need more than their nine weeks of face-to-face training. To supplement that, they can access “extra learning [that] includes a series of how-to videos that are 60-180 seconds in length. They offer three to five steps, and they’re available on YouTube and iTunes,” says Chris Hedrick, Peace Corps Director in Senegal.
    • Have you been assuming that videos have to be long, or elaborate productions? Are the only videos you offer those that were filmed at a face-to-face event, and feature talking heads? How might you implement a series of 60-180 second visual learning nuggets? What could you be showing your members how to do?

The possibilities are everywhere. You just need to have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, then look for the tools and methods to implement them. Making sure, of course, that those tools are the same ones your members use… (more on that next time).

Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Trends, Learning in General | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Focus on YOUR PD Lately?

Posted by Ellen on December 7, 2010

ASTD has designated this as Employee Learning Week, “an awareness campaign highlighting the important connection between learning and achieving organizational results.”

Great idea!

We focus a lot on providing the BEST learning our association members can get — they deserve it from us, don’t you think?

If only we were as generous with our own professional development!

In light of Employee Learning Week — call it Staff Professional Development Week if you want — give yourself the gift of learning.

  • Scope out a new blog or Twitterfeed to follow
  • Invest in a new book (how about aLearning: A Trail Guide to Association eLearning? Just click the links on the left for more info)
  • Find a conference or education event that will fill a gap for you
  • Subscribe to a new magazine
  • Search YouTube for relevant videos on a topic you want to learn more about
  • Register for an online course (or view the aLearning tutorials for FREE — click the “aLearning Fundamentals” tag on the left to see the choices)
  • Post a question on LinkedIn or another professional social networking site or search for another topic you want to explore

The possibilities are endless!!

Feed your mind.

You can’t nourish your members educationally if your own head is empty!

Posted in eLearning Resources, Learning in General | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

LMS Resources

Posted by Ellen on May 8, 2010

I know, I know. You don’t have time for all of this. You need an LMS and you have a teeny tiny amount of time to spend figuring it all out.

Resist the temptation to skim the surface!! Several studies have revealed that at least HALF of the organizations that invested in an LMS were at least somewhat dissatisfied with their selection! Many orgs find themselves having to pay more than they anticipated to add or change features they thought they were already getting or in the configurations they needed.

One way to reduce the risk that will happen to you is to go into the process as informed as you can be. To help make your search for info more efficient, I’ve compiled a list of blogs/posts with super info on LMSes and LCMSes, and welcome suggestions for others.

Starting Points

A great place to start with a broad picture of LMSes is Connie Malamed’s eLearning Coach interview with Tom Werner of Brandon Hall Research, “Learning Management Systems: Expert Advice.”  

ASTD offers this “Field Guide to Learning Management Systems.”

Choosing an LMS? Lots of resources on this one (a Google search will give you even more):

This TrainingForce post lists basic steps for the LMS process overall as well as some guidelines for what to include in the RFP.

From a techie’s point of view, see “1o Things to Consider Before Choosing an LMS” by Dave Mozealous, an Articulate quality assurance guru.

The E-Learning 24/7 Blog: The Truth and Realities of E-Learning, written by Craig Weiss, elearning and training development specialist and consultant, is a constant source of great info on LMSes. He has so much helpful info on this topic, it’s hard to select just a few posts, but these might be of particular interest include:

If you’re trying to figure out whether to host your system inside your firewall or have it hosted via the Web, “SAAS LMSs and Vendor Client Lists Questions” is essential reading. 

Looking for ideas on defining your requirements?

Here’s an example of how consultants at Managers Forum assisted some clients in separating what they “needed” from what would be “nice to have.”

And be sure to take a look at Tony Karrer’s “Rapid LMS: eLearning Technology” post in the eLearning Technology blog. His series on LMS RFPs is required reading! Start here:

Considering Open Source?

A history of Moodle and its incremental growth can be found in the Donald Clark Plan B blog.

Craig Weiss at the E-Learning 24/7 Blog posted his take on the “Pros and Cons on Moodle.” 

And Craig gives us some Open Source LMS options other than Moodle, too.

For general info about open source options, see:

Keeping in mind that UpsideLearning wants to sell you their own LMS, Amit Gautam’s post on “The Real Cost of a Free (Open Source) LMS!” raises some important concerns that you need to weigh before you jump headlong into Moodle or other open source options. Amit knows LMSes — making the Upside Learning Solutions Blog one of my regular reads.

Another blog with some thoughtful advice about open source options (and from another LMS vendor’s point of view, so take that into consideration as you read) is Manish Gupta’s “When or When Not to Use Open Source LMS?” at the G-Cube Solutions blog.

More Helpful LMS Blogs!

Looking for more LMS-oriented blogs? Amit Gautam has his own list of  Top 13 LMS and Learning Technology Blogs (and we’re pleased that aLearning made this list!).

Resist the temptation to take shortcuts by skimming past the great info that’s out there. Make sure you’re not one of those dissatisfied LMS clients — go into the process as knowledgeable and prepared as you can be!

Posted in aLearning Strategies, Blogroll, eLearning Resources, LMS | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Something e-Old, Something e-New

Posted by Ellen on March 20, 2010

Sounds sort of stinky, doesn’t it?

Well, according to the results of a broad-reaching survey done by Allison Rossett, professor emerita of educational technology at San Diego State University, and James Marshall, consultant and educational technology faculty member at SDSU, current elearning is a combination of old and new — but mostly old.

The research is “broad-reaching” because five groups invited members to participate in the survey — groups that include a range of learning (and elearning) professionals:

  • ASTD
  • The eLearning Guild
  • The International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI)
  • PINOT (Performance Improvement Non-Training Solutions)

Rossett and Marshall focused on determining what we’re all *actually doing* when we say we’re doing elearning. Are we doing…

Online collaboration?

Mobile delivery?

Asynchronous programs with visuals and audio?

Training in virtual worlds?

Blogs and wikis? Twitter? YouTube?

Thanks to the authors’ willingness to share just their results even more broadly, you can catch a full article about it in the January 2010 issue of T+D from ASTD, listen to a podcast of the article , and/or you can view a recording of a Webinar she did to discuss the results. [Note that Elluminate requires a Java download that will launch automatically when you complete the registration form.]

I opted for the Webinar recording, “eLearning is Not What You Think It Is,” and highly recommend you choose at least one of the ways to see this report. The results will give you an idea of where your association’s elearning sits right now compared to where it is in other organizations.

Here’s a teaser:

Their carefully crafted “snapshots” uncovered these five most frequently occurring elearning practices:

1. Online testing.

2. Use of computers as part of classroom instruction.

3. “Our programs present content and opportunities to practice and receive feedback. Employees work on these tutorials at a time of their own choosing.” (I’d call this asynchronous, stand-alone learning with embedded learning checkpoints and feedback.)

4. “Our programs use visuals with an audio track. Employees watch and listen at a time of their choosing.” (I’d call this asynchronous learning, including archived Webinars, without embedded learning checkpoints.)

5. “Our programs are based on realistic scenarios that press employees to make choices and learn from the results of those choices.” (I’d call this using branching scenarios.)

With all the buzz lately about incorporating social learning into the mix, are you as surprised as I am to see it missing from the top 5?

And the “least frequently occurring elearning practice”? Mobile learning, with training in virtual worlds in next-to-last place.

“Personalized learning” topped the wish list and lack of funding was the primary elearning constraint.

As Rossett notes, “Old favorites dominated our study. eLearning today appears to be mostly about delivering assessments and designs, testing, personalization, scenarios, and tutorials. All these are familiar, and they all have deep roots in the training and development community.”

She also points out that “Those who reported themselves to be leaders reported more of everything than did practitioners.”

Those of us who are “doing” know the constraints we face everyday, despite our wish list, despite nodding our heads in agreement with the bloggers and consultants who tell us we need to be doing more A, B, or C.

Yes, we should be doing some things differently. But the reality is that we are on huge ships that are hard enough to turn when you’re at the helm. And when you’re not the captain, it’s that much more difficult to change direction.

What can help make the difference? A well-formulated elearning strategy of course 🙂

Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Surveys, aLearning Trends, Justifying aLearning | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »