It has been almost a year since CommPartners and Higher Logic began formally collaborating with the premise that learning in its many forms is a natural extension of community engagement. This concept is not new for most of us. I remember many conversations that took place at ASAE Annual Conferences and other meetings over the years about the virtues of social learning. Everyone agreed that the notion of peer to peer, sharing of ideas should accompany and be integrated with knowledge shared by experts. After all, when we think of the best learning experiences, it’s typically a conference with our community peers. We value the sessions but a significant part of our reason for attending is the knowledge we receive from colleagues. So why is online learning experiences so segmented?
While in theory this sounded like a wise idea, the execution of social learning was slow to take hold. There are likely many reasons for this, but the lack of an online platform that truly enabled Web based social experiences was not helping to forge the way.
Last year, Higher Logic and CommPartners’ teams got together to identify how we could make community driven learning a reality. We had certain ideas and it took quite an investment of time to identify how this could work. Our first success was the creation of Higher Logic’s Online Academy courses. This training enables participants to sign up and participate in a self-paced training program (powered through our learning management system, Elevate LMS) within the community. Completion of courses is reported to Higher Logic’s activities area, giving the community member and the host organization, in this case Higher Logic, a more holistic report of engagement that was taking place.
After this initial success, our efforts turned towards helping associations realize the benefits of bridging their Learning Management System and community to offer their stakeholders an integrated experience. As the discussions evolved, one question became clear; why are we asking our participants to navigate to two separate and distinct areas of a website when both areas provide opportunities for learning? Shouldn’t the synergy between these two components be together? So we went to work and came up with a fully integrated platform both visually and programmatically.
Key elements of Higher Logic’s community and CommPartners Elevate Learning Management System now work together, prioritizing the participant experience. Twelve months later we have many organizations that have embraced this integrated approach and we have certainly learned a lot. Here are four key lessons learned from bridging these two areas:
1. In many cases organizations still need a strong, independent learning presence. In these cases we have integrated the two platforms on a micro level. Examples include pulling in community participants that are enrolled in a course or webinar or reporting learning results to the activities area in the community. These are steps that more subtly bring the two together.
2. It’s important to have staff from both your education and community teams involved. There are many variations of community driven learning that can take place. Getting initial buy-in will ensure a smooth process and better result.
3. Opportunities for social learning extend beyond typical webinars or training. A program such as a virtual conference hosted through the LMS has the power to be integrated with a conference community leveraging the engagement already in place.
4. Working together allows us to provide better guidance to our clients. It’s been extremely valuable for the Higher Logic and CommPartners teams to work closely together to bridge the knowledge gap and provide better ideas and insights to our clients.
We’re excited about continuing to bridge the gap between community and learning. If you have an interest in integrating peer to peer idea sharing with traditional learning contact a representative from either Higher Logic or CommPartners to learn more.
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