Last week I went to the Metrics That Matter user group in Chicago. During my trip, I started thinking about user groups related to learning and technology. Other than conferences, where do learning and technology professionals get together to discuss ideas with each other? Conferences are great; I attend them and present at them on a fairly regular basis. But too often these events are more focused on presentations than collaboration and idea sharing. We can learn a ton from each other simply by trading stories and experiences, and we should do this more often. What other ways do we have to interact directly with each other? I came up with a list of ideas below. Please chime in with your thoughts. (Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the Metrics That Matter user group meeting was excellent.)
I’ve written about #lrnchat before. It’s an online discussion that happens each Thursday on Twitter. Dozens of learning and technology gurus join in to have open discussions and share ideas. This is a great way to interact with some of the top thought leaders in our field.
Several LMS companies offer user groups and conferences, and I would highly recommend that you check one out if you work closely with an LMS. Most of the well-known LMS vendors have user group meetings and/or conferences, including:
Adobe has an active user group community, with over 700 groups that meet regularly to discuss products such as Captivate, Dreamweaver, Flash, and much more. Visit the Adobe Groups page for more info. (In fact, a few Captivate-specific user groups have popped up.)
Separate from the Adobe Groups is a user community for Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro.
Many of the “social learning” tools (ex. blogs, wikis, etc.) have user groups or strong online development communities. A few quick examples:
Tools like TweetGrid allow you to track keywords related to your niche of learning and technology. This can help you find others who are working on similar topics or projects, and then you can reach out to them directly.
What am I missing? Are there other ways you directly connect with peers to exchange ideas and discuss your work? Blogging, definitely. What else…?
B.J. is the Founding Editor of eLearning Weekly and has contributed more than 150 articles. He works in elearning at Qualcomm, focusing on mobile learning.