To paraphrase cognitive scientist and author Cathy Davidson:
Our nonprofit institutions, for the most part trade and professional associations as well as professional societies, are acting as if the world has not suddenly, irrevocably, cataclysmically, epistemically changed.
Learning Is Changing
Learning is changing. Anyone. Any time. Anywhere.
By the end of 2011, 2 billion people will be connected to the web.
That could be 2 billion predators or 2 billion initiators, depending upon your perspective. It’s clearly an opportunity for 2 billion connections.
Those 2 billion people are living in a “pull information world,” not a push broadcast interruption world.
Ten Learning Shifts
These shifts affect our learning. Yet most of these shifts are conspicuously absent from our associations and conferences.
1. Conversations with strangers
In online social media networks, people are comfortable with talking with total strangers that may have some weak link of commonality. Rarely do conference hosts organize networking sessions where people can converse with strangers that have some thread of likemindedness.
Our organizations need fewer presentations and more interactions. Leaders need to understand how to design experiences that foster connections, one-to-one dealings, involvement, participation and personal contributions. Organizations should find new ways to reward contributions and sharing. Less monologues and more individual dialogues. Knowledge sharing in small groups is critical.
3. Digital Presence
People are creating their online resumes such as in LinkedIn. Younger generations create their own websites that serve as a digital portfolio of their work, experience and evidence of achievements. Organizations should teach their customers how to create and manage their online footprints and be “Googled well.”
4. Social Sharing Economy
People are sharing lots of information with each other online. Many organizations restrict the bulk of their information to members only. Is your organization sharing the best of their practice with the world? Without sharing, education falters, advocacy is not enabled.
Mindful infotention is a combination of learned attention and online information tools. Howard Rheingold created the word infotention to describe the combination of brain-powered attention skills blended with computer powered information filters. Organizations should teach customers how to manage multiple streams while mining it for the data they need for learning and success. Curating content for customers and potential customers is another way organizations can help their customers get ahead.
6. Digital Literacy
More than ever, our customers need to know how to detect misinformation, judge accuracy and fact, and define authority. Association and conference customers need to learn skills on managing online conversations, tolerance for other people’s views and how to adapt to a rapidly changing world in this digital age.
7. Life-Long Learning
One of the most important skills needed for success today is creating a culture of life-long learning. Learning is life-long and life-wide. Organizations should foster and create an atmosphere conducive to learning.
What can you do is being replaced with “What can you and your networks do.” According to Jay Cross, “Knowledge is moving from the individual to the individual and his/her contacts.” People today are working together to solve problems. Many need help with perfecting their collaborative skill set and learning how to work in partnership with others, especially if these people are strangers online.
It’s time to stop designing programs for platforms and start designing for mobile screens. Which screen is your customer using to connect with you? The PC is dead. The laptop is a bridge. Long live the smartphone and tablet.
10. Helping Customers Follow Their Passion
Organizations need to create engaging and empowering learning experiences for all learners. It’s not about a one-size fits all curriculum. It’s about leveraging the power of technology to provide personalized learning opportunities so customers can follow their passions.
Which of these shifts resonates with you personally? Which shifts will be difficult for conference organizers and association leaders to adopt?