January 24, 2008

Trends for EL programs to think about

After Wikifest all I could do was to outline things I wanted to think about and then try to recover from jet lag and deal with getting sick from re-entry into New England weather. (Actually it turns out that about half the conference attendees have come down with something, maybe I'm the vector for the next Asian flu virus to kick the butt out of the east coast?)

Now I'm ready to actually think about things! First of all I want to echo something I first posted about when I was noticing the proliferation of adventure programs on Facebook and the like. It was a post from 2005 regarding blogging events. The article talks about how blogging is a good way for non-profits to spread the word regarding an event. The reverse is also true: if you are a blogger attending a conference and post during the event it's a great way to spread the word about your blog.

Here are some trends that EL programs need to spend some time thinking about and my thoughts and reccomendations:

  • Massive publishing - Web publishing is free, easy and growing rapidly. In addition 'official' sources no longer dominate the market. So our future participants can find out as much about our programs from our past participants, our fans and our detractors as from us. My thoughts: get on board, start small, pick an area you are comfortable with and see what it can do for you. If a blog is too much, join a couple of Facebook groups in your industry. Leverage the network in a small way at first and see what happens.
  • Effective filtering - Growing in accordance with massive publishing are effective tools for finding and filtering the information we want. How we filter our information could be as important as the quality of the information itself. My thoughts: check out rss feeds, subscribe to some feeds that you like and see how it affects what you hear about and learn about.
  • Free communication - Yesterday I connected (for free) with colleagues in Romania, Indonesia and Colorado. I needed pictures for an article I was writing and within 24 hours I had some from a colleague in Hong Kong. My thoughts: start a Skype or AIM account and publish your address to your staff or participants, see what happens. Also, I found that leaving my Skype turned on during the day was helpful for people to message me as long as I let go of my need to respond right away, check and respond tops 2-3 times a day.
  • Early adoption stage - Adventure programs are still in the early adoption stage with this good stuff. Many of us have just added websites to our tool kit, and many staff don't see the connection and benefit of technology to what we do. My thoughts: start small, leverage the network and see what the result is, if you have a success share that with others.

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