Encouraging engagement in a new e-Learning Community

(Pauline Wilson) #1

Our organisation is a small Community Adult Education Centre in regional Victoria, Australia. We have recently been funded to develop and implement a Community of Practice to encourage e-Learning implementation by other centres in our region. We will be developing the CoP in a Moodle platform as we are also hoping to offer assistance to those considering the use of Moodle for their e-Learning.

We have had other “in house” communities for our trainers who work in different locations but have found that engagement is very difficult.

What ideas can others share about what works to engage busy people?

Are there any Moodlers who have developed Communities? If so do you have any advice about how you went about developing communities in Moodle?

(Sarah Hawk) #2

Hi @paulinemareewilson – great topic.

You might find this article interesting – Overcoming The ‘Too Busy To Participate’ Problem in CoPs

What is it that motivates your audience? If they are teachers/trainers they probably value helping others/giving back – so appealing to that motivator in your communications will potentially help.

We had a similar challenge here and it took a lot of digging to get to the bottom of it. I could see that people were visiting each day but engagement was low and when I asked what was up, people said that they were ‘too busy’ to post. It turns out that they felt that in order for a post to have value or ‘be up to scratch’ it had to be long and carefully crafted. People didn’t feel they had time for that. As soon as we changed the tone to be more relaxed and less ‘dry and professional’, everyone came out of the woodwork.

TL;DR: People aren’t too busy to do something that they want to do. You need to find out what the true barrier to entry is, and deal with that.

(Shauna Farey) #3

Hi Hawk
This is a great suggestion. I often feel like that I am a little hesitant to contribute to forums for fear of seeming to silly. Of course the only silly question is the one that we don’t ask.

(Sarah Hawk) #4

Thanks Shauna.

I’m all for a bit of silliness! In fact, I encourage it. :wink:

Seriously though, it’s a real dilemma. It’s very difficult to apply the same logic to ourselves that we do to others (i.e. we tell people on our own communities that there is no such thing as a dumb question, yet we freak out about asking one ourselves). I recently joined a community of marketers – I know very little about marketing – and I had to really challenge myself to ask what I suspect was a very basic question.

The bottom line is that everyone started from scratch at some point.

(Rebecca Braglio) #5

Thanks for sharing this insight…I remember chatting with you about this and wanting to participate but really feeling too busy…but now I see what you are saying about the formality as totally on point…because I was only engaging when I had an urgent matter that I needed help on – which would have been something I would have made an effort to carefully post, etc. Which takes time.

I’ve really enjoyed the shift to a more informal, personal atmosphere. I don’t worry anymore about coming across as “dumb” in my replies.

(Sarah Hawk) #6

I’m glad to hear that. You just made my day. :slight_smile:

(Alessio Fattorini) #7

That’s a huge question. Each member has his own motivator. I didn’t find any answer yet. Any hint to apply to my community? Survey about most interesting topics?

(Sarah Hawk) #8

Sure – have you tried the values survey?

I know that my audience is motivated by the following values:

SELF-DIRECTION (creativity, freedom, curiosity, independence, choosing one’s own goals)
BENEVOLENCE (helpfulness, honesty, forgiveness, loyalty, responsibility)
UNIVERSALISM (broad-mindedness, beauty of nature and arts, social justice, a world at peace, equality, wisdom)

which means I can tailor my emails and requests to focus on being helpful or responsible, to motivate the benevolent group, for instance.

(Pauline Wilson) #9

It is really good to hear your point of view @rebeccabraglio It makes me hopeful that we can convince our “busy” people that they can feel safe and comfortable in our new community. And I totally agree that the busy is probably another way of saying that they don’t have time to really craft a good post.
So we will remember to try create an informal atmosphere that you talk about. Thanks!

(Pauline Wilson) #10

I think the idea of a values survey is great @hawk. We could do a survey about most interesting topics as suggested by @ale_fattorini. But perhaps values is a better way to go. And I do agree that motivation is a huge question and as we all have different interests, values and points of view we need to offer a lot of variety in topics.
I rather like the idea of motivating people by setting specific tasks that need to be done when building our community and reaching out either to someone we know has the specific skills required or simply asking who would be interested in performing the task.
Thanks for all your contributions everyone. It is really promoting some good thoughts and ideas that we can use!

(Pauline Wilson) #11

This is so true. I am joining as few communities where I have that feeling of being a newbie so that I get that insight again and can apply that to new people as they join our community

(Sarah Hawk) #12

I like that idea. It’s easy to talk about being empathetic, but I think we often need a reminder of the reality.

(Alessio Fattorini) #13

This is another good point, motivating people by doing concrete things, also very small, is a good way to keep them involved. It works very well, I experimented it several times

(Pauline Wilson) #14

Thanks @ale_fattorini. Great to know that that tactic worked for you

(Pauline Wilson) #15

So we have opened up our Community and have invited a small number of people who are directly involved in the project.
We also had a virtual meeting in a webinar. This prompted people to come in and introduce themselves. So far that is pretty much all they have done despite us setting up what we hoped were a couple of relevant discussion forums. But early days yet. So I will remain positive for the present

(Richard Millington) #16

Hi @paulinemareewilson

Are you prompting them to participate in a second discussion? Making connections between new and old members? Identifying challenges from the intro posts that other members can solve?

This would alls be pretty useful to kick things off. It’s never easy starting from scratch.

(Sarah Hawk) #17

Congratulations on your launch!

What is the CTA for people to introduce themselves? Do you ask a specific question (ie what is your biggest challenge/what are you working on?)? And what sort of responses are you getting? Is there content in them that you could spin out into wider conversations?

(Pauline Wilson) #18

Pleased to say we have used most of those strategies, thanks to all the research I have done here and in other places, including your great work in Buzzing Communities, @richard_millington.
We have already noted a new connection which we hope will lead to good interaction in the Community and as suggested we have started a new conversation around that.
We also have what we call our Facilitator Zone which is only accessed by certain people who we hope to develop as great facilitators. This is where we will discuss the progress of the Community and how to continue to build it. However they have not engaged with that yet so that will be a major focus for the present.
What are you working on? will be the next forum post thanks @HAWK
Thanks for your interest. I will report back as we progress.

(Pauline Wilson) #19

So next step completed. We have used the Buzzing Communities formula to write a comprehensive strategy and action plan. This will now be shared with and adopted by the existing community. At the same time we will be formalising the appointments of 6 facilitators.
Engagement still very much needing to be prompted. But I think that the actual appointment of the facilitators will mean that we need to contact all partners again personally, by telephone and hopefully that will once again prompt more activity.
Still to do the Values survey

(Sarah Hawk) #20

And by having the facilitators themselves modelling the behaviour that you want to encourage you’ll be able to slowly build engagement.

Thanks for the update. It’s really valuable when people document their journeys like this.