September 1, 2015
During the launch of a community, every aspect of making the community successful is considered, from system settings to design. A major aspect of launch is also training everyone involved, from system administrators to community members. While plans are laid out to provide education during launch, one aspect of management of the community that is often overlooked is designing an ongoing education program.
Here are five things to consider when developing your program.
5. Why develop an ongoing education program?
Providing ongoing education for your community will ensure your community members continue to develop their skills in using the community. It also helps your community members learn at their own pace, and focus on the things in the community that matter to them, when they matter.
4. Who needs to receive education?
Every successful community has an education plan that considers everyone in the community, from the system administrators to the community members. Each role in the community is associated with a level of responsibility that has nuances to what they need to know. By addressing roles in groups, you can ensure each role receives the education that is right for them.
3. What kind of education do you need for your community?
Organizations often have a training and education department that has standardized the education processes. Considering each community member has a learning style that works best for them, providing a variety of education types will maximize value of a well thought out education program. Think about providing live and recorded training sessions, written "how-to's", tips of the week, and even a type of "office hours" that allows community members to speak directly with a community manager to get their questions answered.
2. When should education be provided?
There are three key times education can be beneficial:
Additional times to provide education are during low points of activity in the community (summer break, holidays, organizational down-time), as this provides an opportunity to keep people engaging in the community as well as catches their attention without competing with other priorities. If you're using your community to communicate around events and organizational happenings, consider providing quick tips on how to use the community for these activities that are easy to understand and get people immediately engaged.
1. Where is the best place to provide education about the community?
Every community should have a place where community members can go for help on how to use the community. This is usually labeled as the Help & Getting Started space. In this place, you need to ensure that all types of education delivery are captured and organized so they are easy to find. Community members should be able to search the content as well as ask questions if they can't find the answer they're looking for. By having a community manager focused on this area, you can also ensure questions are getting answered, and new information is being added at the right times.
Many communities also have a community managers blog where they publish tips of the week, highlight new features, and address best practices for use of their community. This blog can be highlighted on the community home page as well as added to news streams, to make sure it gets visibility and attracts followers.
If you haven't yet thought about an ongoing education program for your community, now is the time to get started. It's never too late to educate your community members on how your community can provide the best value to them!