Last week my colleagues and I traveled to Orlando for the American Society for Training and Development’s annual International Conference and Expo (the cool kids call it ICE). As always, I emerged exhausted from learning, chatting, socializing and making connections with Twitter friends. And, in this case, perhaps also from the 95 degree heat.
Building Communities That Thrive
The theme of the week for me was community building. Social media has been a hot topic for a few years - discussion of everything from how to use it effectively, practical tips, return on investment and the risks - but there’s a new conversation in the social learning sector and it’s about building communities that thrive.
“Community manager” is a job title because it takes patience, hard work and a certain amount of skill to draw out connections between community members. Learning and development professionals are focusing on creating a network of relationships where people feel comfortable sharing their ideas and experiences and relying on their community for discussion, information and learning.
Supporting the development of community around organizations, themes or peer networks is a top emerging skill for learning & development professionals. I had great conversations at ICE around the tools and techniques folks need for effective community management. As Coline Son Lee (@PMTrainer) points out, it’s a multi-front effort. We are still persuading some folks that social media is worth our time, and on the other side of the room, we’re investigating the best uses for social media conversations.
Where is our time best spent? I think the answer is that learning and development professionals are evolving from content creators into content curators. No more will the L&D professional spend their days laboring away with PowerPoint: that will be a task for the subject matter expert as they create quick, flexible learning resources to share universally. The learning professional will occupy themselves with selecting resources to share and creating connections between people who can learn from one another.
The Social Scene and the OpenSesame HoodieFest
I also had busy evenings, attending our own OpenSesame meetup at B.B. King’s Blues Club where I made great face-to-face connections with Shannon Tipton, Dawn Mahoney, Olia Shapel, Kelly Phillips and Amber Aziza. We also had a great time at the NetDimensions reception and the ASTD Tweet-Up (thanks to Jenna Papakalos from Interactyx for organizing!).
At learning and development conferences, one way we build our OpenSesame community is by giving out hundreds of our OpenSesame hoodies (in photo!) to play our “Unlock Learning (and iPads)” conference game, where several lucky participants win iPad 2s and iPad Touches. The hoodies are a great conversation starter and a great way to meet so many interesting people from all over the world. Thanks to everyone for playing, and I hope your hoodies treat you well on any cool summer evenings!
Resources for Moving Forward
In closing, if you didn’t attend ICE, there are some fabulous online resources to access some of the vibrant conversations that took place in the Orange County Convention Center.
As always, Dave Kelly has done a fabulous job curating all of the Twitter backchannel resources.
I enjoyed Cammy Bean’s post about falling in love with Instructional Design all over again in Allison Rossett’s session.
Jane Bozarth is launching her “Essentials of Social Media for Learning” online course again in June.