Just-in-time, DIY Learning in Professional Membership Associations

To join or not to join, that is the question facing many entrepreneurs considering membership in a professional association.

This choice became a front-burner issue for me recently as I renewed membership in two professional groups.  My interest was further fanned by online research that we did recently at the Studio on women’s organizations.  We studied how the groups go beyond-the-hype of most E-learning initiatives and seat-time in webinars to support and encourage their members to learn from each other online.  These interactions might happen around member blog posts, tweet chats and discussions, action-research projects, and in other learning bubbles such as communities of practice.   The member-driven learning satisfies a current need or interest they explore in online and offline group settings.

Question:  Before I get ahead of myself, what top-of-mind benefits do professional membership associations offer to potential members?

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Online Projects: Solutions for Learning AND Doing

In her most recent blog post, Doris talked about online projects as a tool for collaborative learning. In that blog she described a valuable process for collaborative projects that included identifying a challenge that matters to you, seeking people who share your passion, reframing goals and mission, and establishing a timeline, target milestones and regular sharing rituals.  

Some project skills are the same both online and offline.  As with offline projects, you must continually focus on the mission, reflect and ask questions, make each connection or meeting productive, and remain flexible and open to new ideas. However, working online hones and reframes leadership skills and technical knowledge. Read more

Business Blogs for Learning, Reflecting, Networking

Last week Doris outlined four free online learning choices: blogs, MOOCs, projects and networks. All can be important components of your online entrepreneurial or organizational learning portfolio depending on your learning plan, goals, and needs.  Blogs can be an important part of doing business by engaging with others.

Everyone is familiar with blogs that chronicle the personal opinions, mundane activities, or other daily life doings of the “all about me” blogger. In this networked age, however, these types of blogs are being supplanted by ones that promote collaborative thinking and discussion. Ernesto Priego, in his blog in the Higher Education Network puts it this way: “I would argue that blogging and social media empower the individual to have a voice and that this voice only becomes meaningful when it addresses, listens to and engages with others.” Read more

Entrepreneurs Find Super-Powers Learning Online

Entrepreneurs  are natural wayfinders.  They puzzle through mazes to emerge with new answers to old problems and pursue their dreams of achieving impact wherever they are.  They might be in a job, self-employed, working in their own or someone else’s business, or volunteering to expertly serve their communities.

We like to believe that entrepreneurs possess Superman-like speed, vision, strength, and ability to keep getting back up when knocked down by forces (or fears?) that keep many of us doing the same-old thing far too long.

Entrepreneurial super-powers might be debatable, but one thing isn’t.  In this digitally networked era, the most successful wayfinders will connect to ideas and people on the internet to learn; find their way; apply learning; and draw maps for others to follow. Net-savvy entrepreneurs recognize that working must involve learning in order to improve performance and succeed in the long-term. And they realize that most learning opportunities online are free.

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