In working on the Association E-learning 2009: State of the Sector report, one of the resources I turned to was the excellent Association Social Technologies report issued by Principled Innovation in January. If you aren’t already familiar with this report, here’s the quick rundown.
The report team, which included Principled Innovation founder Jeff De Cagna along with Ben Martin and SocialFishes Lindy Dreyer and Maddie Grant – arguably the “A-Team” when it comes to association social media – collected detailed data from more than 280 associations about their use of social technologies. They also interviewed a number of associations to create a set of “mini” case studies to include in the report. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they infuse the entire report with their well-educated perspectives on the current state and potential role of social media in the sector.
Really, if you are with an association that is thinking about starting or growing your social media initiatives, this is a must have.
Aside from finding it very valuable at a general level, the report has also been particularly useful to me as I assess how the whole concept of Learning 2.0 – that is, e-learning blended with social technologies – is fairing in the association world. I asked the nearly 500 organizations that responded to the 2008 Association Sector E-learning Survey a number of questions about how they are using e-learning specifically for their online education programs. For the most part, they aren’t. The technology that fairs the best is discussion boards – old school, admittedly, but still social. Among organizations currently offering e-learning, 32.7percent report using discussion boards.
Here’s how the responses for three key technologies – social networks, blogs, and wikis – stack up against usage numbers for these three technologies at a broader level, as revealed in the Principled Innovation report:
|Usage of social networks, blogs, and wikis||Sector-wide
|Social networking sites||31.0%||25.0%|
While I am not surprised that social networks and blogs seems to have more traction than wikis, it is interesting to me that wikis are apparently being used so little – both broadly across the sector as well as in e-learning. They are so simple to use and can be such a great tool for collaborating among dispersed staff members, volunteers, and members. In the world of e-learning, they can be a great tool for complementing a course with easily updatable resources or even for team-sourcing or crowdsourcing the course in the first place. I’ll be interested to see how these numbers change over time.
The Association Social Technologies report is full of more data on usage of social media in the sector as well as case studies and insights. I’ve found it to be a good resource in my e-learning research, and I’d encourage you to consider getting a copy today.
Hedgehog & Fox
P.S. – Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jtcobb