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Content Curation

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Content curation as defined by Rohit Bhargava in a 2009 blog post titled, “Manifesto for the Content Curator&#. 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. Aren’t they?!? Of course they are. Methodically?! Voila!

Secrets to Successful eLearning Revealed!

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They’ve updated their 2009 State of the Sector report — with the all the insight and expertise you’d expect. 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 renamed it the “Association Learning + Technology State of the Sector Report,&# which bears a bit of attention. Just 15%?!?? Sad, but true. Why so few? Make use of professional instructional design. That explains it! Not tomorrow. Today.

Stealing from the Rich…

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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. 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? Source? Why not? If not, why not?

Meta What?!?!!?

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Back in grad school, when discussion turned to “deconstructionism,&# I mentally closed down. Something about that term turned me off, maybe because it sounded pretentious when people uttered it. Here’s another one: metacognition. But the concept is simple, and — thanks to learning and development specialist Taruna Goel — easy to implement, all for the good of your association. Metacognition is learning from learning, “perhaps more important than learning itself,&# Goel writes. It is about being aware of your learning and taking control of the same.&#.

Learning Team of One

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For example, one of the ASTD 2009 BEST Award winners is VF Asia Limited, a business unit of VF Corporation. For the details, please see the October 2009 issue of T+D. So many of the resources available about elearning seem to be directed primarily at organizations (especially for-profits) with a large training staff that it’s hard to implement much of what they do — couldn’t we do so much more with bags of money and rooms full of learning specialists? And how do they do it with a tight budget and high urgency for producing timely training? They had a clear plan.

Free Course = Revenue

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Of course, folks like Jeff Cobb have been advocating free learning for some time(see especially his Mission to Learn blog on this topic if you haven’t been there yet), but this particular angle occurred to me while reading the October 2009 issue of T+D , covering the ASTD BEST Awards (I’m trying not to rant this year about not having association learning awards) (and, yes, I’m still catching up on reading. How can that be? How can offering something that will cost you money to create bring in revenue if you offer it for free? Not necessarily. Here’s an Example.

What State are You In?

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The 2009 ASTD State of the Industry Report is one way to do that. How was it different than the previous year(s)?  – Was your learning budget impacted in 2009?  . It’s generally not wise to benchmark alearning against corporations — the business models for our training and education programs are vastly different, after all — but keeping an eye on what corporations are doing can serve as an excellent guide for benchmarking in and of itself. Corporate training departments are doing more with less, and for less money. Is this true for associations as well?

Are Your Business Needs Being Met?

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In 2009 many associations saw their historically long waiting lists rapidly dwindle, leaving them to wonder and worry about what could happen if they suddenly couldn’t fill the convention hall. Yes, non-profits/not-for-profits have business needs. Making sure you bring in enough revenue to cover your costs/expenses is the ultimate need, but what drives those revenues? Membership dues, you say. Registration fees to the conference and other events. Conference booth revenues. Sponsorships. Maybe some advertising. Do they understand your membership application process? Renewal process?

Helpful — Free — Resources for Finding LMS and LCMS Vendors

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Before you do that, here’s what’s available (to save you some time): Learning Technology Products 2009: Learning Management Systems includes descriptions of more than 100 LMSs. Learning Technology Products 2009: Learning Content Management Systems provides basic data on each company and descriptions of the features of more than 40 LCMSs. If you’re starting with decisions about your learning management system before working through a full strategic planning process, don’t expect to end up with a system that does what you need. Not you?

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Fixing the Furnace

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Many of you know that my husband and I decided to pursue the alternative lifestyle of “full-time RVing,&# and we’ve been travelling the country for more than six months. We’ve learned a lot, but our biggest lesson has been that things break. They break in an RV faster than with a house, and they are a pain to fix (because of the way RVs are built — from the interior out). A few months ago, our furnace started rattling. Here’s my role: help or stay out of the way. If I’m not needed, I’m staying out of the way, doing things like writing this blog post.

Happy Holidays!

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Playing the Match Game

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Long-time followers of aLearning know I’m a big advocate of matching learning content to its most appropriate delivery mode, so I’m always happy to see elearning colleagues offer their recommendations for the process. Back in the October 5 issue of Learning Solutions, the e-magazine from the e-Learning Guild, David Wilkins gives excellent advice for transforming “social media&# into “social learning.&# Here’s my take, with thanks to David for the ideas: 1. Examine the origins of your associations’ best practices. Participate in a podcast interview?

Whose Future Are You Using?

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According to the folks over at SIGNATURE i, there are at least four different ways to think about the future, and effective strategic planning relies on how you handle each of them. love this idea. In their blog post, “Four Views to Improve Our Understanding of the Future,&#  they describe used, disowned, alternative, and preferred futures. In other words, your path from good to great might not be the same as another organization’s path, especially if they’re moving toward a different vision than you are. How do *you* see the future? Are you using your own future

Future Advice

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Does your association cultivate learning? Sure it does. Or at least, we all think our associations are creating the right environment for continued professional education and training. But how well have you defined what you need to do and be in order to accomplish that? Groan, groan. Sounds like a lot of work, Ellen.]. Not to worry! The folks at SIGNATURE i have articulated a model that’s worthy of adaption. Take a look at their blog for nine clear goals you, too, can adopt and live by. All are important, but note especially #3 — something I’ve been preaching a long time!

Give Yourself the Gift of Education!

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If you could sign up for training on elearning that would explain what you needed to know, walk you through all of the key decisions you need to make to implement or change your elearning offerings, and leave you with a full elearning strategy, what would you pay for it? How about getting all that in a comprehensive manual for just $35 — no, wait! It’s the holidays!!! aLearning: A Trail Guide to Association eLearning is now available for 15% off the original price so you can give yourself a very affordable gift this year. You can’t beat this deal.

Another “Suite Spot” Takeaway

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Tom Kelly hit a few notes I could harmonize with in his article for T&D’s September issue, “Hitting the Suite Spot: How Learning Leaders & Executives Can Speak the Same Language.&#. Cost of Formal Training. Associations are living the same disconnection: investing thousands of dollars — millions, for large associations — on one-time events that will reach a relatively small percentage of members. Think about it: if you spend $300,000 on your annual conference, and 700 people attend, you’ve just provided a one-time event that cost almost $430 per attendee.

Convincing the Boss

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Justifying the value of attending a learning event  is just the beginning. . If you want your members to return to the same event (your national conference, for example), you’ll have to convince your members — and their bosses, who sign the  travel and expense requests — that the program will be different this time. Otherwise, your members and their bosses will think they already got everything they could out of attending, and will opt to go somewhere else. Yes, to someone else’s conference. It does happen!). Be proactive. time?&#. But that’s just the beginning.

Justifying the Value of Your Learning Programs

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I’m catching up on reading, which is why I’m just now coming around to posting about an article from the September issue of  T&D (ASTD’s magazine). In “Hitting the Suite Spot: How Learning Leaders and Executives Can Speak the Same Language,&# Tom Kelly writes: “The most successful learning leaders operate more like a profit center than a cost center, whether or not they actually bring in any direct revenue. Business leaders are focused on business outcomes. Learning leaders are focused on learning outcomes. promote the image of the association.

Association Learning Lagging Behind

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There’s probably no proving my theory, but I’ve long believed that associations and non-profits lag behind corporate and academics when it comes to adopting adult learning theory and the use of technology in education, among other things. The first — adult learning — is worthy of a separate post, so I’ll leave that aside for the time being. And lagging in technology is easily explained: associations are generally more risk-adverse. This is a good thing. We need to be good stewards of our members’ investments in our organization, and that means being cautious.

More Training and Education = Higher Profits

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Or “Why Providing Education and Training Is Good for Your Members.&#. Okay, we all know that, or we wouldn’t be in the field of education. But we’re also surrounded by those who keep demanding that we show some results for all the money we spend on our educational events — face-to-face and online. For more than ten years, Laurie Bassi and Dan McMurrer have been studying the relationship between corporate training investments and their profitability. What does this matter to you and to your non-profit organization? Look for a correlation. Interested in reading more?

Nothing to Smile Sheet About

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I’m admittedly bad at titles, so I’ll summarize what you’re about to read: Those smile sheets most of us use to “evaluate&# an educational event are nothing to smile about. Refresher: “Smile sheets&# are those questionnaires handed out (or worse, left on tables or chairs) for attendees to fill out at the end of an educational session. They usually ask for a numerical rating of the session and/or presenter and are generally limited to less than a page. Smile sheets don’t work. They’re overused. They’re poorly written. They’re inaccurate.

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What Was That Noise?!?!

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Remember that alarm that went off last year? The loud one that seemed to wake up PD and education leaders in associations everywhere? Remember scrambling to figure out alternatives to face-to-face meetings and educational events because you worried that members might not be able to attend them? Even those most reluctant to move into online learning saw real value in developing elearning for their members. Many actually implemented new initiatives or ramped up existing alearning programs. But what happened when the alarm bell went silent? Did your alearning strategy go back on the shelf?

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Finally! Help Selecting an LMS Has Arrived!

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Kudos and deep thanks to Jeff Cobb and his team at Tagoras for the significant effort they undertook in compiling, editing, and publishing their report, “Association Learning Management Systems.&#. Eleven companies responded to an extensive list of questions about their systems, resulting in a report of 400+ pages that include tables, profiles, and product reviews, as well as a valuable list of questions you can use or modify as you investigate your LMS options. How much for such a valuable report?!? With apologies to Tagoras, I’ll be frank: it’s CHEAP!! Can’t be done.

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Social Networking Providers

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If your assocation has decided to incorporate an internal social network (&# white label network&# ) — a network that resides in your Web space, attached to your Web site and usually connected to your AMS, as opposed to FaceBook, LinkedIn, and other publicly-available systems — then you’ll want to get your hands on this new white paper from Socialfish. Maddie Grant and Lindy Dreyer have pulled together a great starting point for anyone considering implementing a system. Keep your eyes and ears open to any other companies you hear about, because this is not a complete list.

Mentoring vs. Training — Why Social Networking Isn’t Enough

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Let’s say you’ve been spending the last few years on the other side of Mars and just tuned into the blogosphere to find out where online learning is today. What would you discover? With all the focus on social networking and social media (SN/SM) you might conclude that online learning — especially asynchronous elearning — had gone the way of the manual typewriter, 8-track tape, and those TV dials that used to change the channel and adjust the volume. But here’s the thing: Mentoring and training are not the same thing. Select one answer.). A. Call None of the above.

LMS Selection Processes on Display

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How have various universities selected the course management systems (CMS) or learning management systems (LMS) they are now using? What processes did they follow? What criteria did they use? How did they involve the eventual users in the evaluation process? If your organization follows — or is considering — the university model for providing synchronous, instructor-led online educational events, you should take a look at Mark Smithers’ Learning and Educational Technology in Higher Education blog. He recently posted brief summaries and links to the original documentation.

aLearning Featured in “Managing eLearning” Podcast!

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Curious about where associations are with elearning these days? Looking for a quick summary of the aLearning: A Trail Guide to Association eLearning book so you can decide how it can help your association or your client associations? With many thanks to Jon Aleckson for bringing out the best of our conversation, I’m happy to provide this link to a podcast that covers these very topics and much more: [link]. Just $25 for the download or  $35 (plus shipping) for the print version, you’ll have a manual that will take you step-by-step through each decision and action.

What Makes Online Learning Effective?

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Isn’t this the million-dollar question? couple hundred thousand, maybe? Maybe the answer is only worth a few hundred dollars.). Whatever the value, a variation of this question has generated a terrific discussion in the ASTD LinkedIn group. The original post from Donna Gilliland, President of MOSTraining, Inc. read: “Online Live Training: what challenges do you face? Have you started delivering training live online training yet? If so, which of the following tools to you use?&#. She listed: GoToWebinar. WebEx. Telspan. Others? . Tools/technology. What’s missing here?!? Period.

eLearning Learning Adopts aLearning!

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With many thanks to Tony Karrer, the aLearning Blog is being added to the eLearning Learning community. Not familiar with it? Check it out with a simple click in the lower right badge! Powered by Browse My Stuff, this is a very cool aggregate of all the latest elearning information in one spot. And it aggregates a LOT! Just a few days away and there are dozens of new posts from an array of sites. The set-up makes it easy to view through Google Reader so you can quickly scroll past the items that aren’t of interest or clear all if you’re really feeling behind.

Flip the Financial Model

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Dan Pontefract, in his Trainingwreck blog , has a great idea related to his Learnerprise 2.0 model: “Rather than investing 2/3 or more of a corporate learning budget to formal ILT and eLearning, why not flip the model and invest 2/3 on informal and social learning components and initiatives.&#. If you buy into these beliefs (and you should):  most learning is informal, rather than attained via ILT (instructor-led training) and formal e-learning courseware. social media (SM) and social networking (SN) are tools that help open the pathways for efficient informal learning. Online offerings?

Education Is Not the Sum of Your Events

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It’s really very simple, all of this stuff about social networking, social media, collaborative learning, Web 2.0, 3.0, etc. etc: They are evidence that your members/learners need more than stand-alone events. Focusing solely on “programs&# — the way we’ve traditionally provided education to our association members — is just not enough. But don’t take it from me. Jay Cross, learning expert and author, writes: “The old focus on events such as workshops won’t cut it in the ever-changing swirl produced by networks.&#. Sound familiar? Not familiar with Jay?

Help with eLearning at Bargain Prices

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When you’re considering venturing into elearning for the first time or expanding your offerings, you’re always looking at an investment. And as a responsible steward of your association’s budget, you want to make sure your investments are sound and your justifications for those expenditures are solid. If they’re not, the board of directors will never approve them, right? And even if they did, you’d toss and turn at night, wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into. Two new resources are now available to help you! What does the report mean to you? Examples.

Valuable LMS Advice

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Just discovered the Upside Learning blog and knew right away I wanted to share what Amit has to say about selecting an LMS. Take a look at Five Things Not to Do While Selecting an LMS.  Great Great advice from someone who knows the tech side of elearning much better than I do

The Hidden Danger of Collaborative Learning

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It’s simple, really: what if the information you’re getting isn’t reliable? Don’t we teach others this very thing about accessing information, gaining knowledge, from the Internet? That you have to be careful about the source, that you need to be able to evaluate the validity of what you’ve found out there in cyberspace? “ And herein we have an example of the very issue: if I don’t know who Richard Whatley is, should I risk sharing the quote? Am I — ignorantly — passing on something that’s of no value or maybe even harmful?

Flashbacks to Steno Pools

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Way back in my 20s, I remember reading advice to young women who dreamed of breaking the corporate glass ceiling. Along with dressing for success, we were advised to hone our memories and resist the temptation to carry paper and pens into meetings to avoid being the automatic choice for note-taker. Oh, yes, my young female colleague, that was back in the day when men were made to classes  teaching them to look female co-workers in the eyes, not in the chest. Before long, his secretary was reassigned by the powers that be, and he was expected to turn out his own letters and documents.

Education as a Commodity?

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When I first saw “edutizing&# mentioned as a way of building business (see Judith Lindenau’s post: [link] I had a gut-level, negative feeling about it. Now I’m thinking… maybe that’s what most trade associations are doing anyway — using education to help members buy into membership. What do you think? Are we “edutizing&#

Thank you, Bill!

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Bill Brandon, editor of e-Learning Guild’s Learning Solutions e-magazine, published a review of aLearning: A Trail Guide to Association eLearning that called the book “a stunning success.&#. Thank you, Bill! As someone posted to my Facebook wall after reading the review, “If Bill says it, it must be so!&#. If you’re not familiar with the e-Learning Guild , consider joining — their basic membership level is designed for the types of budget restrictions common to non-profits and associations — it’s free. information and training. Thank you, Bill!