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PGI Friday: Filtering

Like most, your members are probably overwhelmed by the deluge of information available on the Internet and in their mailboxes.

Filtering is our PGI for today.  What is it?  Extracting from the information masses only the relevant information for a particular audience. A few examples,

  • prioritizing key content areas (in which members face challenges, where contradictory or vast research exists, etc.) and engaging experts in the field to filter out the nuggets and/or summarize findings/trends
  • providing opt-in headliner e-mails that contain current news headlines about the industry that are linked to the actual articles (for broad fields, these can be issue-specific)
  • website personalization (providing additional relevant content to members based on identified preferences or actions – think
  • selling customized versions of your industry research (by industry segment, for example, rather than the full data set)

Save your members time by filtering out the excess or irrelevant information.

Have You Always Done It That Way?

I know many of you have been following the posts over on the We've Always Done It That Way blog where my esteemed colleagues (Jeff De Cagna, C. David Gammel, CAE, Jamie Notter, Amy Smith) and I have been posting our thoughts on the things about associations we must change.  I'm happy to announce that we finally surpassed our goal of "101 things" and a book including them is being released at the ASAE & The Center's Boston meeting.  Of course you don't have to buy the book since the thoughts are all on the blog, but in usual fashion the blog posts are a bit "raw" while the book is a bit more refined, with a preface, intro, section organization, and index. 

We do not pretend that our 101 things list is comprehensive (in fact, we are continuing to post to the blog)  And, we do not expect everyone to agree with all the ideas.  Heck, I don't agree with everything in the book!  We simply want to get association executives thinking and talking about new ways of doing things.   Will you consider the possibilites?

PGI Friday: Moving Beyond Programming

Almost all associations offer learning opportunities to members. But very few do much beyond programming courses or packaging content in books. Very few actually help members become effective learners. Yet, research has shown that many of our members aren’t skilled learners and that learning becomes more effective when individuals engage in several coordinated activities:

(1) reflecting on current practice to establish professional direction and goals
(2) identifying the gap between current and desired/needed knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs)
(3) developing a learning plan based on identified gaps
(4) selecting and participating in learning activities that address goals and targeted KSAs
(5) evaluating how/if learning has been integrated into practice and what progress has been made in meeting professional goals

In what ways does your association help members become better learners?  Do you:

  • Offer self-assessments to help them identify their learning needs?
  • Have a searchable database of learning activities tagged by topic, activity type, learning level, and/or location, to help them locate relevant activities?  Here's an example.
  • If you have certification with recertification, do you simply mandate CE or do you provide certificants with tools to help them develop, implement, and evaluate learning plans?

I've got a short e-guide called Helping Members Learn that focuses on how to develop self-assessment tools that I'd be happy to provide to you, as an association executive, if you'll agree to provide feedback on how to make it better (I'm planning to revise it and make it more comprehensive).  Send an e-mail to [email protected] and I'll e-mail the PDF to you.

Associations can and should play an important role in providing support and tools to help members become more effective learners. Programming education just isn’t enough.

PGI Friday: Rapid Learning

I almost participated in a full day synchronous online event today - I say almost because I was interrupted by dealing with a flooded basement and a sick child that needed to come home (besides, of course, my deadlines and ringing phone).  But, I did pick up a few tidbits that I wanted to share.

I really wanted to participate in this event for several reasons.  First, the focus was on rapid development of e-learning using Powerpoint as the foundation.  I own Articulate, a tool that converts ppt and audio to flash output - and I fully know I'm not fully leveraging the tool and so am interested in tips and ideas.  But equally important, I was very curious as to if / how the sponsor (e-learning Guild) could hold my attention for three 1 1/2 hour sessions while I was at my office desk with the potential for numerous interuptions and distractions.

Unfortunately, my personal issues didn't let me fully explore either, but luckily the Guild records the sessions (in flash output - with audio and slides - using Breeze) so I can listen and learn later.  Regarding holding my interest, that's a tough one.  Now, it didn't help that I had contractors coming and going that needed signatures, etc. and a phone call from my son's daycare informing me that I needed to pick him up...and then him here with me!  But, that aside (can you really put that aside?!), I still found myself checking and responding to e-mail, answering my phone, and trying to even multi-task a written piece.  My personal lesson learned here is that if I really want to focus on a an e-learning event, I need to clear my desk, SHUT down all other programs on the computer and turn my phone ringer off.  Heading out to Starbucks with a wireless laptop sounds like a good idea, but they say the wireless connection really diminished the voice-over-Internet quality.  I actually prefer the voice-over-phone so that if I do need to step away from my desk, I can take the phone with me and still hear the presentation. 

Anyway, during my limited time on, the speakers did a great job of engaging us.  PGI #1:  at frequent intervals, they either polled us, asked us to post a response to a question via chat, presented  learning quizzes, etc.  In other words, they didn't just speak AT us...and that did seem to make a difference. 

PG #2:  At the beginning of the session, when everyone was still logging on, they had a slide show running with nice music in the background.  This is usually wasted time and I find myself frustrated as we wait for the last minutes joiners.  But, this time I was engaged in:

  • Reminders on how to locate and print handouts
  • Instructions and suggestions for participating fully in the event
  • Instructions on how to later hear the session recording
  • Viewing all the Companies participating in the call (these "thanks for joining us" screens were a nice touch)
  • Introducing myself to others and reading theirs via chat (also a nice touch and I "met" another association exec in my area that I didn't know)

I'm going to try my luck again tomorrow for the second of the 2-day event, and I'll post any additional PGIs I pick up.  But, I'm not real optimistic about my distractions decreasing.  Someone still has to get those drafts out to the BOD, get Matthew to the doctor, and let those darn contractors in...and unless some small miracle happens overnight, it's gonna be me.  Anyone with some PGIs on how to balance work and personal life, please send them my way. ;-)  Now, I'm back to work.

PGI Friday: Personalization

Consider how you can add personalized elements to your website...and that does NOT mean simply have it say, "Welcome Mickie" on the home page!

In the context of the Web, personalization means providing additional relevant content to members based on identified preferences or actions.  Think like Amazon.  Imagine how great it would be if when a member purchased (as one example) a book, they were offered suggestions for what other association products or services would be of interest, such as online communities, a recent journal article, other books, an upcoming seminar, etc. on similar topics.  Which they could sign up /register/purchase in one integrated shopping cart, by the way. 

The Web and its many tools present us with great opportunities to move beyond traditional silo-thinking. Is your association leveraging its capabilities?