Report: Most Associations Use Social Technologies to Extend Learning Experience

A new white paper from Tagoras reveals how associations are incorporating social technologies into their learning products. Among the technologies that groups are using, video leads the pack.

More than half of associations are currently using social technologies to augment learning products, and a quarter of associations plan to do so in the coming 12 months, according to a new white paper from Tagoras.

“With over four-fifths of respondents using or planning to use social technologies for learning, it seems clear that not only is the old practice of social learning alive and well, but technology is giving it fresh legs,” the paper noted.

Get out there and experiment in some targeted ways.

The most common type of social technology that associations are using in learning initiatives is online video via sites such as YouTube. Video is followed by discussion forums, microblogging tools such as Twitter, and publicly available social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

According to the paper, “Social Learning Trends in the Association Space,” annual meetings are the number-one type of educational offering in which associations are implementing some kind of social technology.

“One of the most common [examples] is having a Twitter hashtag associated with an annual meeting,” said Tagoras managing director and cofounder Jeff Cobb, who also noted that organizations are becoming more strategic in their use of conference-related hashtags. “They’ll have people who are facilitating those hashtags or trying to stimulate conversations or featuring different pieces of content via Twitter.”

Cobb said he hopes organizations continue to become more strategic in how they capitalize on social technologies to increase both the impact of learning and the value associations deliver.

“There’s only a small percentage of the time in which you’re going to engage your members in formal learning experiences,” Cobb said. “Most of the value that they’re going to get out of your association and being a member is going to be interacting with other members and, through that process, learning and expanding their knowledge.”

Social technologies provide opportunities for that kind of interaction and to extend knowledge sharing outside the “classroom,” he added.

Cobb advised associations to balance strategy with experimentation when incorporating social technologies into their learning products.

“On the one hand, you want to be strategic; on the other hand, don’t get bogged down with overthinking it,” he said. “Get out there and experiment in some targeted ways. … You might have to try five or 10 different things before you start to hone in on what’s going to work for your audience, but if you don’t take a little bit of a risk, if you don’t experiment, you’re not going to get there at all.”


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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