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Knowledge Strategies

Last week I facilitated a session at the ASAE & The Center conference on "Knowledge Strategies for Better Meetings."  We talked about how to move from simply pushing out content to our attendees to really facilitating knowledge creation.  We focused on four strategies: filtering, feedback, context, and connections.

Filtering:  Extracting from the information masses only the relevant information for a particular audience.  Filtering adds value because you save your members time by filtering out the inaccurate, irrelevant or excess for them or providing them a way to filter for themselves.

Here are a few examples of ways to filter:

  • Identify the level of learner targeted for the event or in a multi-session event, each session (e.g., novice, expert)
  • Use conference tracks, tags, or other labeling system to enable learners to easily find what’s likely to be relevant to them
  • Encourage all content leaders to provide recommended resource/reading lists
  • Host unconferences or unsessions that let the learners choose what they want to talk about (filters out the rest)
  • Host a conference blog and have speakers/content leaders post/converse about their session content (giving more information and helping learners better judge the appropriateness of the sessions for them)

Feedback: Offering a constructive and informative response to the results of an activity.  Feedback adds value because members don’t always know what they don’t know; and you are helping them to discover it.  Feedback during learning ensures accurate learning occurs.

Here are some examples of how to use feedback to enhance the learning at conferences:

  • Offer self-assessment following the event that assesses the extent to which learners grasped the intended learning objectives and then provide recommended resources
  • Extend the meeting with online communities (or discussion lists, wikis, blogs) for each session in which presenters participate and answer questions participants thought of once they got back to their workplaces (and participants exchange ideas)
  • At the end of each day have roundtable discussions with each of the content leaders at tables brainstorming with attendees how to apply the concepts/ideas from the sessions
  • Encourage content leaders to include in their session opportunities for learners to interact and provide feedback on each other’s ideas

Context:  Adding meaning to content by relating it to specific circumstances.  The value of context is that it helps to makes content relevant and helps learners to convert that content into knowledge. 

Here are ways to add contect to you events.

  • Have more issues discussions, less formal presentations
  • Offer open discussion / Q&A sessions with content leaders following their presentations (if the presentations are planned to be more formal)
  • Plan comprehensive cumulative programming rather than independent chunks (e.g., for social media – what are the social media options, what technology do you need, what are successful models, etc.)
  • Encourage content leaders to use case studies and to build in time for learners to discuss their with each other how they might apply the session ideas to their organizations

Connections:  Bringing together individuals with common interests, issues or expertise.  The value connections add is that members that are connected can share information, ideas and solutions.

Here are ways to connect your conference attendees. 

  • Via registration process, query registrants on issues of importance and identify comment threads and plan networking events around
  • Enable opportunities to network pre-conference via social media (blogs, wikis, Twitter, discussion lists, ASAE & The Center's directory)
  • Set up peer groups of conference attendees (learning teams) and schedule time during the event where they can get together and discuss what they have learned so far and build upon each other’s ideas
  • Design an environment conducive to communities (comfortable conversation areas, brown-bag or provided lunches so members don’t need to run out to restaurants, as examples)
  • Schedule  informal issues discussion sessions as part of conferences and meetings
  • Embed peer-to-peer discussions into educational session through cases and problem-solving activities

Here's a video ASAE staff captured after the event.  Keep in mind that I'd been at the conference for five days and my brain was, well, done.  Seriously, just shortly before the take, someone had asked me what hotel I was staying at....and I totally blanked.  So, I'm pretty surprised I could even make a point.  You may argue that I didn't. :-)

We covered a lot more during the session.  Look for the next issue of ASAE & The Center's M&E section newsletter for more comprehensive coverage.

Going Global?

Going global with certification is a topic of interest to many, but few resources exist to guide efforts.  Here's an article that's not new, but provides timeless advice.  Don't forget to click on the links at the end too - one covers legal issues to consider.  (Caveat:  you may need to be an ASAE & The Center member to view.)

Also important to realize, there is an important distinction between a U.S. association offering a credential to an international audience and one offering global credentialing.  The former occurs much more often.  In this case, a U.S.-based association creates a credentialing program based on U.S. practice and standards and allows individuals in other countries to apply.  In this case, those individuals will be required to know the U.S.-based terminology and standards even if they do not apply to them.  In addition, the program likely won’t cover some terminology and standards important to practice in their country.

In contrast, a truly global credentialing system studies the practice in every country where the certification will be offered, identifies the universal standards that apply to all, and creates the program based on these universal standards.  This, as you can imagine, is usually not an easy task for most professions since terminology, practice standards, and regulations often differ significantly by country.
The differences often lead associations to hybrid approach, including 1) creating the U.S.-based program first and later adopting other versions of it for use in other countries and 2) working with several nations to identify the universal set of standards, but then allowing individual countries to add standards to accommodate their local practice requirements. 

It can be helpful to distinguish the program types using the following terminology:

  • A national program is one that is based on standards that were developed and adopted by one country, yet individuals from other countries are allowed to apply for the credential.
  • An international program is one that is based on standards that were developed and adopted by one country and applied to other countries.
  • A global program is one that is based on universal standards collectively identified by all the countries involved.
  • A multinational program is one that is based on a combination of universal and local standards.  Representatives from different nations collectively define a universal set of standards, but they reserve the right to supplement those standards with ones that reflect their local conditions

National certification programs that allow international applicants are fairly common.  However, how they handle international applicants can vary.  Reciprocity and equivalency are forms to be familiar with:

  • Reciprocity is mutual recognition by two countries of each others standards and/or requirements.
  • Equivalency is the determination that a country’s standards and/or requirements are of equal content and quality of those of another country.