Blended Socialization

6 Mar

Murray Goldberg and I were participating in the #assnchat Twitter chat this week, which was all about “reinventing associations.” A lot of the conversation was centered around the impact that social media is having and will continue to have on associations. And while social media itself is a somewhat recent phenomenon, particularly with respect to the level of adoption that we’re seeing now, it springs from a more fundamental human desire to meet people, collaborate, and learn from each other.

The challenges that social media pose for associations are somewhat ironic — after all, associations came into being precisely because of the desires of like-minded individuals to come together, get to know one another, and share information. Of course, prior to the widespread adoption of computer-based communications, this meant that associations became very good at establishing and maintaining relationships primarily through face-to-face interactions. So, they became skilled at putting on conferences, setting up local chapters, bringing in speakers, etc.

Unfortunately, the hype associated with social media has tended to devalue the importance of face-to-face interactions. This situation reminded Murray of the way that technology adoption occurred in education. A very interesting result from the research Murray did into educational technologies is that the best learning outcomes occur with a combination of online and face-to-face learning, which is sometimes referred to as “blended learning.”

So, I think now is the time for associations to become the champions of “blended socialization.” Rather than abandon their strengths in face-to-face interactions, they need to extend and connect them with social media. Just as with learning, I am sure that the outcomes will be far better than what is achieved by social media alone.


2 Responses to “Blended Socialization”

  1. Jay S. Daughtry March 9, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    A thought-provoking piece, Terry. My favorite phrase: “it springs from a more fundamental human desire to meet people, collaborate, and learn from each other.” You’re right on with your premise that this is what associations already do, the basis on which they are founded. The concept of blended socialization as you have presented should be embraced.

    • Terry Coatta March 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

      Yes, given the fundamental forces that have created associations, I’m always a little surprised when they are reluctant to embrace the new tools and technologies. In some cases, it feels like they have lost touch with their roots.

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