Ad Hoc Learning – 7 Trends Pushing the Popularity of Simplified Web Video-Based Education and Learning in Associations

June 26, 2013 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

by Stuart Meyer

Learn as if you were to live forever”.  Ghandi

SM_12-4-12_edited-1A few years ago, I served as a contributing author and speaker on ASAE’s Decision to Volunteer research project and publication where we popularized the term “ad hoc volunteer”.  An ad hoc volunteer is one who engages in a single-task volunteer assignment as opposed to a volunteer serving a formal long-term commitment on a committee or project team.  While we uncovered the opportunities presented by ad hoc volunteer roles, including increasing levels of loyalty and personal investment, we also learned that the formal governance structure of associations needed to become better equipped to leverage the potential of ad hoc volunteers.

Today, we’re learning the desire for ad hoc association participation is not limited to volunteerism.  In simplified terms, “ad hoc participation” from a member perspective means I don’t presently have the time for formal participation but desire opportunities for informal participation as time and interest warrants.  Further transposed to the evolving media world around us, it could be characterized as the “I want what I want when I want it and how I want it” trend.

The notion of “ad hoc learning” is certainly not a new concept as just about every conference pre/post evaluation survey and focus group I’ve conducted over the years always highlights the transforming experience and value of peer-to-peer informal learning and education-based networking… that “aha” moment when we’re standing at a conference during a break having a substantive conversation with another attendee and suddenly the “light bulb” finally goes on and our professional plight feels a little less lonely.

The opportunity for associations is determining how to satisfy this “everything-on-demand” generation of customers/members as a bridge to strengthening value, engagement, brand sentiment, loyalty and deepening levels of involvement.  The question is… will we continue to make them come to us or will we find better ways to go to them.

As we look out upon current trends, the notion of learning and how we gather the information we need, it’s certainly far from a news flash that much has changed over the past 10-20 years.  The key opportunity and strategy I see each and every day in my work is to simplify learning and access to learning as much as possible as an “everyday learning” compliment to our more formal means of web-based learning.

Let’s take a look 7 key trends driving our associations toward the demand for on-demand video-based ad hoc learning.

1) Video vs. Text Preferences

In 2010, Forbes shared a series of findings relating to web-based video.  According to their data, 59% of senior executives prefer to watch a video instead of reading text, if both are available on the same page.  80% are watching more online video today than they were a year ago. Finally, more than half of senior executives share videos with colleagues at least weekly and receive work-related videos as often.  From a consumer standpoint, in 2012 Retail Touchpoints reported that consumers who viewed video were 174% more likely to purchase than viewers who did not.  Whether using informal video-based learning as a compliment to text articles or the other way around, the opportunity to deepen the experience and sharing is clear.

2) Mobile Technology and Rise in Screen Time

The explosion of mobile smartphones and tablet devices continue to require us to determine how we optimize our content/product/information/services to best suit life on a mobile device screen and situational consumption patterns.  Google has suggested that within the next couple of years, nearly 90% of web traffic will be video-based mainly due to the rise of mobile technology.  Single topic video-based ad hoc learning lends itself to the mobile experience.

3)  TEDtalks

TED, short for Technology, Entertainment and Design, is non-profit organization driven by a global grassroots movement to advance “ideas worth sharing”.  A major component of TED is their online video TEDtalk series which are typically highly topic-focused presentations delivered during TEDx events which take place all over the world.  In a nutshell, TED has conditioned us toward ad hoc web video-based learning and over the past year my company, Social Frequency Media Communications, has worked with a number of clients in producing TED-style web video series as a form of simplified ad hoc learning… ranging from virtual speaker showcases to multi-episode topic-driven video series.

4)  Time… or the Lack Thereof

Dr. James McQuivey, Vice-President of Forrester Research, has been quoted as saying “a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words”.  Produced properly, video is a simple yet powerful form of communication that is more like a sit-back form of entertainment as opposed to a sit-forward mental activity.  Where once we were only “connected” if we were sitting in front of a PC, today we are continuously connected to our devices and, increasingly, through web-enabled smart TVs.

5)  Every other aspect of your customers/members lives

Your association’s customers/members live in a world of on-demand instant gratification options and your competition is every other form of streaming media, including Netflix and Hulu.  The difference between today’s online association video practices and the early days of low-viewership poor quality flip cam video is strategy, quality, marketing and distribution.  A simple eye-opening exercise is to compare your current lineup of YouTube videos side-by-side with your glossy association magazine and ask yourself if there is an equitable commitment/investment in production quality.  When it comes to our magazines, webinars, conferences and annual meetings we leave very little to chance in terms of production, marketing and promotion.  It’s time for associations to invest the same amount of energy in web video broadcast practices as poor quality cheapens both brand and credibility where high quality serves the strengthen brand and credibility.

6)  Rise of Niche, the Decline of Linear

Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, advances the notion that “The niche is now king, and the entertainment industry – from music to movies to TV – will never be the same.”  Let’s face it, if your association’s video-based learning strategy isn’t generating series of content focusing on every possible niche topic within your profession the reality is someone else will do so.  The opportunity is great with the main risk being inaction.   Further, instead of producing a single linear 45 minute learning-based video, break it up into more “bite-size” narrow topics and present a series of shorter, more focused videos given the viewer the option to view everything or to focus only on the topics most relevant to them.  Additionally, putting the viewer in control of what they watch can also increase additional views and sharing.

7)  The Opportunity of Portability

When it comes to our association publications, we’ve always dreamed of the “viral” scenario in which each issue is carefully routed around the office getting in front of as many people as possible.  Today, online video is portable not only in the sense we can take it anywhere we go via mobile technologies but the url-based format simplifies online portability in our ability to easily share video with others either through email, text or social channels.  If video-based learning content is locked down in an LMS or only available via a live webinar, a big portion of the opportunity is lost.  For this reason, its important to treat your ad hoc video-based learning strategy as a compliment to your other formal education programming.

So there you have it, a look at the evolution and trends surrounding web video-based ad hoc learning within associations as a means to strengthening value, engagement and brand sentiment.  To see an example of what it looks like, click here to see a 4-part AAO-HNS web series which was produced by Social Frequency Media Communications.

Stuart Meyer is President and Founder of Social Frequency Media Communications, a turnkey new media innovation and production company with 12 years of association management experience dedicated to helping associations develop, integrate, produce and manage a strong web TV broadcast network and presence.  He can be reached at stuart(at)socialfrequency(DOT)net

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Entry filed under: Innovation, Managing Change, Organizational Management, participation, Quick Tips & Ideas, Social Media, Video and Web TV, Volunteer Strategy. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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