Forum daily round-up

Written by Jon Kennard on 14 August 2017

Hi all – Jon the editor here.

As the traffic to the daily forum is presently low we have decided to suspend the daily round up of forum posts until further notice. For those subscribed to the daily round up only, please change your account preferences to include the weekly digest.

Functionality of the forum will remain unchanged but you will only receive a weekly digest while daily posts and comment volume is low. Once traffic to the forum pages increases we will restore our daily digest emails but in the meantime please go to your TJ profile to ensure you’re receiving the weekly forum round-up.

Any questions please do get in touch.

Jon

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Comments

sharongreen

Submitted on 15 August, 2017 - 12:30

Hi Jon.  Thanks for the posting.  I imagine a combination of summer hols and also the lack of 'push/pull' prompts from the forum are the reason for the low postings. 

We've all asked about this before and some of us have had a meeting discussing it. 

My daily digests dropped off some months ago.  That could be because of a lacks of posts.  I don't know how your tech works but it seems a shame that if someone posts over a weekend it doesn't always get pushed out to people for the next week to try and harness responses.  Some of those posts languish with no replies and I imagine sometimes that's because people would have to physically log on and search for new questions to generate a thread that is then dragged through to the digest.

In addition, I've received a couple of strange emails, one contained threads from a long time ago which I took to be a gremlin in the system. 

Sometimes I receive emails advertising your webinars, great by the way, and sometimes I don't.  It all seems a little random and not really design to push out and pull in content and a thriving forum.

It seems that technology is not helping us to keep the forum alive as much as we might like it to.  That's my views from the outside.  I'm not sure how it is intended or looks from the inside.

If we do go to a weekly forum, I do hope the questions posed or posted over the last week or even two weeks get swept into the digest or I fear the death knell of a once thriving forum could be sounding once and for all. 

Jon_Kennard

Submitted on 15 August, 2017 - 16:56

Hi Sharon - thanks for the response.

All questions and responses that get posted over the 7 day period will feature in the weekly round-up, but at the moment the level is so low, a weekly email seems like the best option.

As it stands, there are so many other outlets for conversation and advice, some of which both help and hinder the traffic to TJ's forum. I doubt that the amount of 'total' TJ-related conversation about L&D subjects has fallen, it's most likely just happening somewhere else. And as they say, go where your audience is. 

If you have any specific tech issues or examples of these strange emails you've been getting or posts that have been skipped by email digests, please do send them on to me (jonathan.kennard@trainingjournal.com), and I can forward them to our IT department. Drupal (the platform TJ is built on) isn't perfect, and issues do crop up now and again and we want to do what we can to pick things up again. 

Thanks,

Jon

sharongreen

Submitted on 16 August, 2017 - 11:05

Thanks Jon.  I appreciate the reply.  I write off the strange emails now as a glitch in your system as me and a number of others have reported them to different people in the past and it has not really led anywhere.  I think the regular users of the forum post for nostalgic reasons as it was once a vibrant community and we wanted to keep it alive even though there was a long thread last year about sounding the death knell of the forum. 

As you say with other social media platforms coming to the fore maybe it's time to move on from nostalgia.  Sadly other places, like Linked In, also seem less interested in supporting group forum functionality probably because it doesn't generate revenue.

Twitter is limited by the character restriction but I'm sure we'll find a way to connect, keep in touch and share with what's available on the market.  I've tweeted about your weekly digest as unless anyone logs on and changes their subscriptions to receive it, it looks like they won't.  That will hasten the end of the weekly digest for anyone who wants to contribute and receive it.

Jon_Kennard

Submitted on 16 August, 2017 - 11:39

Hi Sharon - the irony being this has turned into a decent thread of conversation!

I'll keep my eye on the activity on here and see if we can reinstate daily digests as quickly as seems sensible.

Speak soon,

Jon 

Hilary Cooke

Submitted on 18 August, 2017 - 11:17

Hi Jon and Sharon,

Can I join in? I simply can't resist irony!

I feel really sad that our once vibrant sparky community seems to have dwindled as I have gained so much from it over the years - really it has done more to enhance and shape my practice than almost anything else and I really value this space. I would be really sad and consider it a big loss if it ceased to exist.

However, this is not an emotional stance, but a fiercely pragmatic one. For example I have found courses and learning events that have changed my life, met the most amazing people virtually as well as in person as a result of exchanges here, shared learning, gained insights and only recently asked a question about a social and collaborative learning platform that yielded the perfect solution and has moved my management of some learners into a different sphere.

I don't think that these discussions are necessarily taking place elsewhere and that is not the reason why people are falling off this particular virtual log. I am active on several platforms and in my experience this forum is different and special.

I can only speak from my own experience but I think there are some factors that create this. For a start, there is a core of L&D professionals who been together for a very long time - we have history and a carefully co-created culture of managing ourselves and this forum. I trust the people on here and don't fear ridicule or backlash - actually I think what we have here is what other platforms should aspire to. I can ask a naive question to enhance my own learning and know that I will be treated with respect and an amazing generosity of shared ideas. That is not so in the bigger and more public groups that I subscribe to. I also don't see the purpose of the other spaces as genuine learning, but more social media to raise my professional profile. Also, if I ask a question on them about supply or product, then I get drowned in a ton of vendors or other consultants offering to "help". That simply doesn't happen on here. Here, I can learn.

I can see why a change to a weekly digest seems attractive, but I feel that it would be a nail in the coffin and also possibly not the best commercial move for you. Quite simply it changes the nature of this forum from what has developed as a place for social and collaborative learning into broadcast - and yes - there are far more effective social media and broadcast platforms out there, so if you /we compete with them, we will lose out. If you and TJ view this space as a form of social media or broadcast, you are looking in the wrong direction and missing a big big trick - in my honest and humble opinion.

This space is different and it is that difference that could be harnessed and totally embraced to enhance the offer of TJ. As L&D professionals, we will all need to meet and greet a digital learning offer at some stage in our careers (if not already). It's not easy to do and we all need to learn to do it better. You feature Donald Taylor's brilliant book on Learning Technologies in the Workplace and he will attest to the fact that getting virtual shared and asynchronous learning to work is a tricky issue - arguably it is the biggest challenge for L&D professionals for the future. 

Why then, do we not view this forum as being a fundamental part of our own learning about using learning tech as professionals? If that was the mindset, then your questions would be about how to enhance it, not reduce it. We already have the community of practice - all be it that it has diminished recently - but if you made it easier to log in and had more notifications then I think people would come back. They have said as much in previous postings.

Therefore the irony for me is not so much that we are having the discussion, but that as the purveyor of all things L&D, you have an established (yet impoverished) virtual learning forum that you may end up strangling instead of nurturing. For example, you've got Jo Cook on the team, who is expert in learning technology. Surely you could be using this space to share some of her great content and attract more learners - and potential customers? Get the authors and contributors to the magazine to give us a taster of their wisdom. Put some content on and let us digest it and discuss it. Why put content out there on other platforms and not on here? It's not as if you get much traffic on Facebook and Twitter either. I know because I follow, so it's bonkers really. 

That is the irony of it all - you are facing the same challenges that any of us out here in the field face in getting social and collaborative learning to happen and be vibrant. So I think you have a commercial opportunity to show us the way to crack this as industry leaders, not limit us to a weekly digest of stale news.

This forum, in its day, was what I aspire to create in my own professional management of groups as an alternative / supplement to face to face learning and I simply can't understand why it is not recognised, valued and developed. 

So I vehemently want the TJ forum to stay and grow, not because I am stuck in the past, but because I need all the help I can get from my fellow practitioners and other experts to manage a future where facilitating digital learning is as important as facilitating face to face learning. I know I am not alone in this and we could collectively create a cutting edge space to do that thing. A weekly digest is anything but agile - but this forum could be. It was in the past when we all relied on really basic technology and just email, so I know it could be again. 

In terms of the technology of this, I don't get the notification, but I do have the link on my Google home page, so I can click to check and the same arrangement works for me with Twitter, Facebook and Linked In, Trello, Noddelpod and my choice of other places to generally hang out. I log in fairly regularly out of habit and check for updates - works for me!  

Also, on other platforms I can manage my own notification time preferences. Some I have on immediate, some daily and some monthly. Could be a way to go?

Thank you for opening the debate - and long may it run....

Best wishes

Dr. Hilary Cooke

Jon_Kennard

Submitted on 18 August, 2017 - 11:40

Now we're cooking. Thanks for your comment Hilary - v insightful and some great suggestions  here. Am a bit stretched at the mo but will come back to you on this post properly this afternoon. Let me reassure you - we have no plans to close the forum, it's about how everyone can access it. The actual issue is more about notifications than the forum itself, but will post at length later today.

cheers,

Jon

Hilary Cooke

Submitted on 18 August, 2017 - 12:16

Yay!

A discussion.

On the forum.

At last. :-)))

This is precisely the value of this forum - you get so much more bang for your interactive buck on here. It just needs to be a bit more geared up to get people engaged, which after all is the ultimate L&D challenge for us all - let's share!

Hilary

sharongreen

Submitted on 18 August, 2017 - 12:32

Well said Hilary.  I concur with you on so many points and levels.  I am sad that this could be the final death knell of the forum.  I don't believe there is anything out there that can offer what it offers and has offered to me now or in the past.  Without it, I would not have had the pleasure of listening to you or many of the other people on the forum.

This platform requires some nurturing from the TJ team.  Not a lot, but the platform obviously has some tech glitches in it that are hampering it.  I'm not sure if those can be rectified or whether there is any appetite within TJ HQ to do that. 

I fear there is a feeling that this is not commercial and therefore not worth investment of time or money when the TJ business needs to focus elsewhere.

If that is the case, I'd encourage the team at TJ HQ to think again. 

Think about the channels you have holistically.  It's not all about the tangible, direct commercial benefits and more about how you can reinforce your brand and maximise all of the channels at your disposal from paid subscriptions, courses etc to value add 'services' like knowledge sharing. 

Communities of practice that allow you to share and debate beyond 140 characters or postings on LI can add value to those investing, actively taking part or reading and observing. 

Resli Costabell

Submitted on 18 August, 2017 - 13:20

Hi Jon,
I'm a long-time forum fan and contributor. I echo Hilary's sentiments: the forum has been unique. Many other fora consist of blog posts designed for self-promotion, containing a needle of value amidst the haystack of words. Many other fora are populated with people who have more enthusiasm than competence. Whereas the this forum a place in which I've been able to offer ideas, elicit wisdom, and get to know fellow professionals.

For me, the forum can be revived in three steps:
1) Sort out the intellectual property issues. TJ attempts to claim IP rights over our postings. TJ tried to extract royalties from me when I wanted to use something I'd posted on the forum. As you can imagine, this led to great outcry. In April 2016 (not 2017), I received an email off line assuring me that TJ was making it a priority to resolve the issue. They've said nothing since.

2) Moderate the forum. At its zenith, the forum was moderated by Sue Mennell. She enforced the rules fairly and consistently, removing self-promoting posts and contacting violaters to give them a swat over the nose with a virtual newspaper. In the last discussion I had with TJ, TJ was saying that the forum should be a self-moderating community. Self-moderation won't work. No one wants their personal branding to become "the one who ticks people off". And remember, many of us are in client/supplier relationships with other forum members. We're not keen on getting in touch with our clients or prospective clients to tick them off. (Imagine if the TJ senior execs went around behaving badly, and the MD said it was their subordinates who were expected to tell them to knock it off.) 

3) Sort out the IT. Case in point: I wrote a massive missive yesterday, and posted it to the forum. It appears not to have appeared. This is frustrating, and becomes a disincentive to contribute.

And it's not just about debugging. It's also about ensuring the forum works with how we work. In Ye Old Golden Days, we received a daily email with all the postings made since the previous mail. We could cruise through the email to see what was new, in its entirety. Now we can't. We just get the headlines and click bait, trudge to the website, and discover that the new posting was just an "I agree" - not a huge amount of content. I'm happy with such postings. But I don't want to have to go to the website and log in - I just want to be able to see them in a daily digest so I can note, nod, and skim onwards.

Some years ago, TJ revamped the daily digest entirely, unveiling the new-style forum with a triumphant TA-DUM! The applause from the community was, shall we say, muted.  TJ went from being an honest and intense conversation between interested and interesting professionals, to being yet another on-line forum that anybody could use to Google for information on a specific topic. It stopped being a community we were part of, and started being a tool for getting tasks done. Nothing wrong with that. Except that's what all the other fora offer. Only TJ offered the community of highly competent professionals who'd share their wisdom, uncertainties, failures, ideas, successes. The daily digest was a fascinating conversation over a cup of coffee. The forum is often a rather tedious and buggy tool. A number of us have suggested returning to the daily digest. It wasn't broke. But it was "fixed".

Best wishes,
Resli 
(C) Resli Costabell

​PS: Just tried to post this and got lost in a whirl of advertisements for Garnier something. grrr.

 

Jon_Kennard

Submitted on 18 August, 2017 - 16:17

ok - I have an epic reply coming. It's shorter than Beowulf, if that's any consolation.

Jon_Kennard

Submitted on 18 August, 2017 - 16:32

Hi all - I hope I've addressed the main points of your posts beneath. I'm taking them as they came in. Hope I cover it all!

Hilary

- I don't think temporarily stopping the daily email digest will change the nature of the forum from one of collaborative learning to  one of broadcast, and I don't see forum itself as any form of social media or broadcast. I see it for what it is, a forum for learning professionals to help each other out.

- I'm not looking to reduce it and I am looking to enhance it - my whole motivation is to make this whole site the best it can be with a functioning, thriving community. The forum is absolutely critical to what TJ offers L&D professionals. But a sparsely populated email on a daily basis may (not will, may) end up doing more harm than good. I've worked in L&D email marketing long enough to know this is a possibility, at least. What other ways, if any, are there that we can alert people to new threads in the forum, new comments and generally about the forum as a resource and place to form bonds with like-minded people and collaborate? That's my big question.

- 'Put some content on and let us digest it and discuss it': I publish 2-3 pieces of content per day on site on our other platforms (soundcloud etc). On the one hand it's fantastic idea to post at least some of the content in the forum, but on the other...this would be an email every day, and my hunch is that this density of email could be too much for a fair chunk of our members. However - comments are open now so why not discuss the piece under the piece itself rather than on the forum?

- I'm devastated about your social media comments (as they are such a big part of my job - don't worry, I'm not actually devastated), aIthough I don't know what you're basing your stats on but we get (comparatively) very good engagement on Twitter and LinkedIn, although I agree, not so much  on Facebook (something I am working on). But - we have nearly 18,000 twitter followers. You can't ignore that audience.

- On the subject of agility: One thing I do know is that email does not allow for agility. If we want this forum to be agile, we need a better method of notification than email. Broadcast, as you mentioned before, albeit not in a positive light, is something that email is good for, and for other aspects of TJ it's perfect.

Sharon

I absolutely agree - the platform needs nurturing, and nurture we will. I have to hold my hands up that the forum is something I didn't focus on when I started but - there is absolutely no correlation with a focus on the more commercial work I do. I am an editor, and while commercial opportunities (and should be) a part of my remit, the vast, vast majority of my work at TJ is to publish content (written, video, audio) that is useful and accessible to as many L&D people as possible.

I understand the importance of the TJ forum, and I want it to be busy and populated with great questions and answers. My only question is -  is a daily email the best way to alert the right people to all the good new stuff going on? 

Resli - thanks for your comments. I'll take your three steps one by one.

1) I don't know anything about this IP issue but will look into it immediately. Strikes me as odd, but please also bear in mind that TJ is owned by Dods publishing, a publisher of predominantly political magazines where the courts are much more often involved so litigation is more in the forefront of people's minds, and protocol over things like message boards can often get fast-tracked to the business end of the legal experience. 

2) Was Sue an empoyee of TJ? I'm glad she did a good job, but as it stands we don't have the staff to employ someone to do this exclusively, but I will happily be your moderator. It would be retroactively, so I would get a feed of comments posted and then decide if any needed to be taken down. I think any other way is too cumbersome and stifles the flow of conversation. I'll do the ticking off if necessary but I can't imagine there would be a great deal. (haha, we'll see).

3) So this is the big one, really. There will always be IT problems in fora everywhere, and TJ is certainly no exception. Our IT team is quite stretched but I will keep applying the pressure, I want the forum back to its heyday. 

Shall I list a few ideas and actions?

- Jon to actively (post) moderate any new comments, but with a few regulars flagging up any comments I may have missed
- Use parts of the many positive comments about the forum on this thread as quotes to promote the forum itself on social media (this could work really well I think)
- Members to list the IT issues they're experiencing and email me (jonathan.kennard@trainingjournal.com)

Any more ideas? 

Jon.

 

Hilary Cooke

Submitted on 18 August, 2017 - 17:41

Hi Jon - Wow, I feel well and truly heard. Thank you! 

I am so glad to hear that your motivation is to facilitate the forum and moderate us - welcome and welcome again! I don't know much about the technology required to support all this, but trust that you and your team do, so go for it and let us know if we can help. 

To answer one of your questions, I am not sure, but it is possible that Sue Mennell was employed by Fenman, so may even predate Training Journal's involvement in the forum. That was back in the days of UKHRD and there are quite a few of us that go right back to the beginning. That's why the community is so valuable - we have a lot of shared history and trust.

Have a great weekend and best wishes

Hilary

 

sharongreen

Submitted on 19 August, 2017 - 14:24

Thanks Jon for posting such a fulsome reply.  I appreciate it and I also feel heard. 

I'm experiencing multiple adverts that seem to come on every time I log on (since 18/08/2017).  I don't want to buy a Seat. 

It would be great to have a clear X, like other sites does, to click away from this and exit quickly. 

I appreciate commercial advertising is a way of making sites pay their way, it just spoils the user experience when you can't get rid of unwanted ads speedily. 

Hope that is something temporary rather than a permanent addition.  Best wishes. Sharon

Hilary Cooke

Submitted on 19 August, 2017 - 15:31

Hi Jon - PS..

I particularly like your idea /action 2 to attempt to drive traffic from other sites to here (instead of assuming that it is going from here to them). I don't think that has ever been proposed or considered. Would you like some of us from the forum to also post to TJ Facebook, Twitter and Linked In sites?  

I know this is your bread and butter, so I am not throwing in eggs to the discussion for you to suck on - but people newer to the forum may not know how long it has been going and just how established it is. 

This forum pre-dates any other social media sites by a long way. We had our first live event in Feb 2000 and the forum had been going for a couple of years by then. (https://www.trainingzone.co.uk/news-from-the-ukhrd-digest) Considering that Friends Reunited only started later in 2000, it kind of puts it into perspective - and they closed last year.

It is August, so people might be away (or having a digital detox), but I think you might be pleasantly surprised at how much support there will be for rejuvenating this space.

I, for one, certainly hope so! 

Best wishes

Hilary

DorothyNesbit

Submitted on 28 August, 2017 - 12:21

Hi Jon

Back from holiday and late to the party... I haven't read everything but want to contribute to the discussion in one particular area.

When I first joined the forum, it was posts from members asking for help that I particularly enjoyed. I liked to contribute to these discussions and also valued the forum as a place I could ask for help. This has a couple of implications, for me at least:

*Membership - has it dwindled? Why are such posts less frequent now? It strikes me that any strategy that doesn't answer these questions first and then address the answers - well, there's a phrase about p*ssing in the wind that springs to mind.

*I have noticed that I am far less engaged by discussions stimulated by TJ staff than I am by discussions started by members of the forum, except when these discussions (like this one) are about the functioning etc. of the forum. I may be alone, but if I'm not, "let's start a discussion to get people talking" may be another failed tactic for TJ. So there may be another question to answer in order to shape strategies that are well-informed.

Maybe one last thing. I am fond of the forum. I used to love opening the digest in the early days and joining in the discussions. I feel sad about its demise. I also recognise that it may have had its day. So, I will contribute to discussions like this and I'd love to see the forum revive, but I don't feel motivated to apply CPR for the sake of it.

Warmly

Dorothy

Jon_Kennard

Submitted on 29 August, 2017 - 09:28

Hi Dorothy - thanks for the comments. To avoid confusion, here's the latest post on our decisions about the forum.

http://www.trainingjournal.com/forum/tj-forum/forum-daily-round-0

cheers,

Jon