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Online Learning for Trade Associations

Posts Tagged ‘Tagoras’

Get Latest Tagoras Report on Virtual Events — FREE

Posted by Ellen on April 3, 2012

For just this week, if you sign up for the Tagoras Research Community list — which is free to join — you will receive a complimentary copy of Association Virtual Events: State of the Sector. It’s a win-win!

Don’t wait — the offer will expire at the end of this week (April 6 or so).

For details and to sign up, see this page on their Web site:

If you’re not really in the profile for getting this report gratis, but you have a vested interested in finding out about the status of virtual events in the association sector, follow the link to see how you can get a copy. Tagoras does excellent research and is a go-to resource for association leaders. Check them out!

Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Surveys, eLearning Resources | 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 »

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!


Posted in aLearning Strategies, eLearning Resources, Online Learning in General | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Content Curation

Posted by Ellen on August 19, 2011

All debates about using the terms “curation” and “curator” aside, figuring out ways of “finding, grouping, organizing or sharing the best and most relevant content on a specific issue”* is something that all associations should be doing.


Because we’re already doing most of it, and it’s a big (maybe even gigantic) reason our members pay dues to belong to our selective group.

They might not say it in so many words, but when they come to your organization — its educational sessions, conference, networking site, publications, benchmarking reports, research studies, etc. etc. — for help in developing their professional acumen, they’re actually relying on your ability to “find, group, organize, and share the best and most relevant content on a specific issue” so they can readily access it.

Aren’t they?!?

Of course they are.

But let’s take this amorphous idea of “content curation” and make it concrete and actionable. Ideas are great, after all, but useless unless we do something with them.

We have Rohit Bhargava, at the Influential Marketing Blog, to thank for the definition of content curation that we’re using here. Now we can thank him again for his “Five Models of Content Curation.”

He calls them “potential” models because he suggests there might be others (or these, altered in some way), but they’re a great place to start. Here are the five models (see his post for more detail around each of them):

  1. Aggregation — “curating the most relevant information about a particular topic into a single location”
  2. Distillation — “curating information into a more simplistic format where only the most important or relevant ideas are shared”
  3. Elevation — “curation with a mission of identifying a larger trend or insight from smaller daily musings posted online”
  4. Mashup — “unique curated juxtapositions where merging existing content is used to create a new point of view”
  5. Chronology — “curation that brings together historical information organized based on time to show an evolving understanding of a particular topic”

“But Ellen,” you say, “We’re already doing most — if not all — of these things. What’s the big deal?”

Of course you are already doing these things.

But are you doing them conscientiously? Methodically?! Systematically?!?!?

Do you have a clear process?

Do you have someone who owns the task?  A content curator?

Didn’t think so.

But you should.

Here’s how Jeff Cobb describes the role in his post “Who are your content curators?” at his Mission To Learn blog :


“A good curator must be skilled at:

  •  locating and evaluating valuable content
  • organizing and connecting content so that it is as accessible as possible
  • creating and re-purposing content when it adds to the underlying value
  • capitalizing on the Social Web to build connections and context
  • building trusted relationships with learners and other curators
  • design learning experiences (in a much broader sense than traditional approaches)”


How do you find someone like that? Hmm… maybe you already have a staffer or highly active member who’s a good match for the role.

Or maybe you can utilize the talents of a few people.

In “Get Serious about Social Learning by Focusing on What Matters,” an article in the e-Learning Guild’s Learning Solutions e-magazine, Eric Davidove includes a fabulous chart of various roles within a community network (see the full article for complete descriptions):

  • Consumer — “looks for and uses content, information, and social connections”
  • Creator — “creates, shares, improves, and discusses content and information”
  • Connector — “helps others to find the content, information, and people they seek or need”
  • Carrier — “helps creators to transmit and promote their content and information to others”
  • Caretaker — “person who manages the learning community”

What I’m suggesting is that your Creators are likely those who are actively distilling, elevating, mashing, and chronologizing (is that a word?!?).

Your Connectors are likely those who can assist with aggregating — especially in identifying subject matter experts for various topics and subject areas.

Your Carriers promote the initiative while the Caretakers manage it, all for the benefit of the Consumers.


Okay, this might not be the perfect solution, but it’s a start, and you have to admit that there’s nothing here that you have to purchase or get approval for… (of course, you could implement it subversively!)

Your resources are within your organization: the content, the information, the people.

One Way to Get It Done

As you know, I’m not one for “what you need to do.” Instead I like to give “how to do it” lists, even if they’re imperfect. Adapt as you wish or need, but here’s a recommended action plan:

  1. Brainstorm: If you could categorize the information and content your members most want, what would those categories be? Write each category on a sticky note. Put the sticky notes on the wall from right to left in no particular order.
  2. Brainstorm: Who’s knowledgeable about each category? Who are your Creators and Connectors in each? Write each name on a different-colored sticky note and put those sticky notes under the category they could help with.
  3. Brainstorm: Who are your Carriers? Write their names on sticky notes of a third color and put those on the wall to the right or left of your categories.
  4. Brainstorm: Who are your Caretakers? Who might be willing to take on the role of maintaining the cache of information and content? Who would be willing to sort out valid info from “infomercials”? Write their names on a fourth color of sticky notes and put these on the wall outside all of the other groups.
  5. Brainstorm: What will you need to bring this content together and online? Make a list. Prioritize it. Investigate the possibilities.
  6. Go!

Yes, the last Brainstorm activity is where the rubber meets the road, technology-wise. More on how to make your curated content accessible in a future post….

Not that you don’t have plenty to do between now and then!

Note: If your association or non-profit is already curating content and delivering it to your members, we’d love to hear from you. What are you doing? Why did you decide to do what you’re doing? How did you develop it? What suggestions do you have for those venturing into organized content curation? Don’t be shy! If you prefer not to post a comment, feel free to send me an e-mail at We appreciate your insight on this topic!

* Content curation as defined by Rohit Bhargava in a 2009 blog post titled, “Manifesto for the Content Curator”

Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Trends, Online Learning in General, Social Learning | Tagged: , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Secrets to Successful eLearning Revealed!

Posted by Ellen on July 7, 2011

Jeff Cobb and Celisa Steele at Tagoras have been very, very busy these days… We recently noted their updated LMS for Associations Report (see Tagoras On Target)  and now they’ve done it again. They’ve updated their 2009 State of the Sector report — with the all the insight and expertise you’d expect. They’ve renamed it the “Association Learning + Technology State of the Sector Report,” which bears a bit of attention.

Those of you who’ve been reading the aLearning blog awhile know I’m an old-school gal when it comes to terminology, so “elearning” and “online learning” are generally all-encompassing terms for me, and I use them pretty much interchangeably.

So for Tagoras to advocate using “learning and technology” instead of elearning will be a switch in lingo for me that I’m not sure I can guarantee I’ll adapt to, even if I do agree with it. And their point is well taken:

“…many limit the term e-learning to self-paced online courses and do not use it for Webinars, Webcasts, or other forms of educational experiences online, especially the burgeoning areas of informal and social learning. We wanted to be clear in the title that we think expansively about the role technology does and can play in association learning.”

Thankfully, they decided to default to “e-learning” throughout their text, but — as I said — their point is well taken about how elearning has evolved in its various formats, while the terminology tends to keep our thinking restricted to the “old ways.”

So, having clarified the nomenclature, let’s look a bit more closely at just one of the findings in the report (and, at more than 120 pages, an in-depth report it is):

“Notably, only 15% [of survey respondents] characterize their e-learning as very successful.”

Ikes! Just 15%?!?? Sad, but true. Why so few? The answer (I believe) is covered in the report’s very next sentence:

“We found that these organizations were significantly more likely than average to do the following:

  • View revenue generation as a key benefit
  • Make use of professional instructional design
  • Have a formal, documented e-learning strategy
  • Have a formal, documented product development process”


AH!! That explains it!

So here’s the bottom line: most organizations plunge into elearning without having thought through a strategy. And without a strategy, they won’t know how an instructional designer can help, nor what products they might be developing (and so they won’t create a development process…)….

All of which leads to a patchworked quilt of elearning programs: a Webinar and an archived version of it, followed by another Webinar, then maybe the organization ventures into another elearning format… none of which seems to generate the revenue that was hoped or planned for…

See how everything in that list of success factors is linked?

How ready are you to be “very successful”? What can you learn from those who achieved that level?

Find out from this new report.  Not tomorrow. Not next week. Today. Now.

Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Surveys, aLearning Trends, eLearning Resources, Justifying aLearning, Online Learning in General | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »