In this post, we’ll share the three elements that allow us to consistently create powerful learning communities where Content, Connection, and Community are amplified together, at scale, ONLINE and IN-PERSON.
At Insight Solutions, one of our superpowers is creating high-impact learning environments that allow people to rapidly build connections and unlock the collective wisdom of any group. Much of the work we’ve done in this space has been a combination of both in-person and online style sessions, serving industry associations, professional organizations, affinity groups and Mastermind communities.
Today, with the so many restrictions in place around hosting in-person events, the limitations and complexities have forced us to operate in an entirely online model and deliver our programming digitally for the foreseeable future.
Luckily, XCHANGE has already designed and hosted six different online training experiences in the last four months, ranging from 2 to 3-days each and for between 50 to 100 participants. Our ability to quickly transition to the online space has given us the opportunity to quickly learn how to deliver the same powerful results online, as we’ve done in-person for years.
The XCHANGE 3-C Framework is what drives the repeatable success we’ve had with founding and scaling different types of very successful learning communities. The members of these learning communities are typically high performing, successful individuals, who are very discerning with how they invest their time. As these communities continue to thrive and grow, it’s a testament to the power of the 3-C Framework.
Here’s the three elements that allow the 3-C Framework to work so well!
What percentage of the agenda for your events would you prefer to be active versus passive?
There’s no right answer to this question, however the research shows that deeper levels of learning and retention regularly occur when a learning environment is more active.
Unfortunately, most online and even traditional in-person learning, happens to occur in a very passive manner. For example: listening to a speaker on stage, seeing a video, watching a webinar. Sometimes presenters will engage the audience with questions, polls or surveys, but this really only creates a few brief moments of limited engagement.
At XCHANGE, we have found that allowing participants to actively engage in discussions around the subject matter is a powerful way to create high levels of engagement and social connection.
One of our simplest formulas for moving learning from passive to active is called the Active Learning Cycle (ALC), which can be applied at almost any time, in any situation. In fact, XCHANGE had the opportunity to transform a TEDx event by introducing a simple ALC to the agenda.
Try this: after a key piece of insight (speaker, video, presentation, etc.) ask the audience to reflect on what they just heard and write down their biggest takeaway. Then, in a digital environment using the Zoom platform, move participants into small groups of 3-5 and invite each to share what they wrote down. Lastly, upon bringing everyone back to the main Zoom room, ask for several people to share with the whole room their own answer to that question or anything they may have heard from their partner that inspired them or would be powerful for the whole room to hear.
You’ll be amazed at what comes to the surface and your participants will appreciate being given the opportunity to capture their biggest takeaway, as well as hear what others learned from the session. This activity works very well online and in-person.
What percentage of the experience would you like the participants to learn from the single perspective of a subject matter expert (one person) versus crowdsourced from each other and the participants’ own real-life experiences?
Again, there is no one right answer, but I’ll bet your gut reaction is that the perspectives of many and learning from real-life experiences would be more powerful in many cases. Especially when you have a group coming together around a shared purpose, mission or area of interest. We would agree!
Within the 3-C Framework, we shift much of the learning to happen in a “crowdsourced” manner. Not to say that we eliminate external speakers, contributors or insight all together, but rather we position it very strategically on the agenda and will typically use it as a source of inspiration for the participants to then explore what they may be able to learn from themselves and each other through a crowdsourcing activity.
We design agendas to weight more heavily in favor of activities that engage many perspectives and enable story sharing of real life examples, instead of a single subject matter expert. Whenever possible it’s also highly preferred to invite speakers to conduct their session as an interview, which creates a more exclusive feel and tends to be more engaging for the audience.
Do you have a process for including a subgroup of your community in the planning process for this and future events?
A very powerful way to build loyalty and engagement is to invite your community members to participate in the creation of the community and its events.
Through our work with various types of learning communities, we have found that people will show up primarily for two types of capital or benefits:
- Intellectual capital – learning something new that will help them be successful
- Social Capital – building relationships that will create long term benefits, both personal and professional
We have also learned what keeps people coming back, what keeps them connected to a learning community and what makes them want to continue to be actively involved. That is the third and often less talked about form of capital, we refer to as Communal Capital.
Communal Capital shifts the focus of the event and activities from being in service to the individual, to being in service to the community. This allows you, as the convenor, to harness the power of the participants to build various aspects of the community experience. At the same time, people care about what they create and by allowing them to build parts of the community experience themselves, you can be assured of higher support, engagement and buy-in.
We have found that a good balance between the providing value to the individual and the community is to dedicate about 15 to 25% of an agenda or experience to the community, usually after the individuals have been served.
If you’re responsible for managing a learning community, either inside an organization or as a stand alone entity, feel free to leverage these ideas as you plan your upcoming experiences. If you’d like to connect with someone on our team for a complimentary Design Studio, we’ll get into details on how you may apply the 3-C Framework to your community.