In today’s vast eLearning landscape it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of resources at your fingertips. Learning how to utilize a single authoring tool for development is just a small piece of a very complex puzzle. Once you’ve identified which tool will meet your needs – what’s next?
How you familiarize yourself or learn a new tool can take many forms. Training, webinars, tutorials, trial and error, or active participation in a community (like this one) are all excellent means for transferring the knowledge needed for development.
When you choose Lectora as your authoring tool, you have access to another level of support known as Lectora User Groups. The members of these groups typically share a similar focus or geographic location (Dallas, New England, Chicago, Australia, etc.). The core foundation of these groups is based on the age-old saying that “two heads are better than one”. These groups host webinars, local meet-ups and additional events to provide inspiration and support for eLearning development.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Laura Gillenwater, head of the New England Lectora User Group, or more affectionately known as “NELUG”. This is one of our most active and longest standing support groups. We spoke not only about the success of her group, but of the challenges and lessons she’s learned along the way.
If you’re interested in organizing your own user group consider these 10 tips:
- You must have passion and drive for running and organizing the group.
Successful groups don’t take off overnight. Like a seed requires water and a certain amount of nurturing (am I really making a green thumb reference here?!), so will your group. You will need to foster and encourage membership and initiate conversation among members. Consider yourself a group moderator. It will be a lot of work, but if you’re passionate it will be worthwhile for all.
- Having a website is key.
This provides a central location members can go to for information about upcoming events, webinar registration, job boards and more. You can provide much more information on a website than you can in just one tweet. Don’t forget, you can use Lectora to create a website.
- Speaking of “Tweets”…
Set up a Twitter account for the group. You can quickly send out reminders, useful resources, and group updates. Consider using a tweet scheduler to maximize your efforts while saving time. You may want to check out Hootsuite or pagemodo.
- Share the workload.
When first setting up your group, consider establishing some temporary roles so that you’re not doing ALL the work. You’ll want to be clear about what the expectations for the role are and you don’t want to give out jobs unnecessarily. Some roles to consider might be: chairperson, recording secretary, correspondence secretary, webmaster, program director, etc.
- Put out feelers.
Survey the new group to determine the best dates/times for meetings. If you have a large and diverse group, go with the best for the majority.
- Meetings – How often and how long?
Consider conducting quarterly meetings. If you offer too many meetings/events, participation becomes too much work and can overwhelm some. A 2-hour meeting every quarter strikes a nice balance allowing members to participate more easily.
- What’s on the Agenda?
The agenda can certainly be tailored to fit your group’s needs, but some ideas to consider: introductions/ice breakers, polling questions, guest speaker, tips/tricks/questions, etc.
- We hear you loud and clear!
When conducting a webinar, keep the phone line open to encourage vocal participation. This will allow the meeting to be more engaging and intimate. You can still provide instruction on how to mute their lines, to avoid distracting background noise.
- Get sponsored.
Consider a sponsor for website, webinar and other related group costs. Perhaps different organizations represented in the group can rotate the responsibility to manage the upkeep. Keep in mind, it’s FREE to create a group in the Trivantis Community and host discussions there.
- Quality over Quantity.
A user group should provide support, comradery and useful information. It shouldn’t be a straight information dump or spamming opportunity. Keep your focus on the content and what your members would benefit from.
When establishing a user group keep in mind there is no specific set of criteria that you must adhere to. Groups are unique to their members and can be organized in any fashion. I hope that the tips listed above provide you some guidance and help you hit the ground running. Feel free to connect with me on the Community if you need any additional advice, information or guidance. I’m here to help!