Here’s the third stage of building bridges for excellent material to find its way into the world successfully and effectively.
3. Deploy it to the world: now that you’ve created the content – or adapted it, linked to it, or otherwise got your virtual hands on it – and you’re convinced that it’s relevant, effective, and provides meaningful value for a specific target audience; and you’ve brought that content online with a winning user experience and creative approaches to automating it, now it’s time to make it available to the world. And that’s the magic and power of the Internet: to take what was once unknown and local and instantly make it accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. Of course, “instant” still requires considerable work.
* User and access management: this content or program that you’ve now automated will require some careful decisions about how real people will access it and interact with it. Is it free? Will users pay? Will they give up something in return, but not necessarily cash, like their email address or some feedback? You can provide open access and let any and all visitors have at it. You’ll be admired for your trust and generosity. But chances are, you have some objectives of your own here, and you’re not doing this for entirely altruistic reasons. Do you want to build a community? Make money? Get exposure or build traffic? Get people to engage with you, for a variety of reasons? Depending on your answers to those questions, you’ll need to set up individual accounts, e-commerce, registration mechanisms, and the right means of giving visitors access and tracking them. Do some research here, learn what others have done – you’ll find many creative solutions.
* Set up and run your business operations: what business entity will be responsible for publishing and supporting this content? In addition to the core content, you’ll be managing a larger context for this endeavor. This starts with the web site where people will find and learn about you and the business. How will they find it? The business and the interactive product must be presented with the right use of branding, positioning, messaging, and marketing — of course, all these business and operational fundamentals follow from the early work done to establish clear value and effective learning outcomes.
Much online content is now free – partly driven by large institutions willing to open their existing learning assets, and partly to invest in the development of new assets. Plus, a massive volume of learning materials – ebooks, articles, how-to’s, courses, webinars, presentations, video, podcasts, and many other forms – are produced for marketing purposes, to get people to sign up for a blog or website, to promote a product or service, to establish a brand, or to keep users coming back for the next installment. The volumes and types of free stuff are ever increasing, but the quality is too often marginal, or outright plagiarized. Don’t fall in that trap.
In the end, this is all about adoption: getting your target users to find you, learn what you offer, become interested, and decide to engage. Since the earliest publicly available e-learning – not the old “computer based training” mandated by our jobs and bosses – the challenge of adoption has been the key to distance learning success. And it includes all the aspects described in this article and the two previous ones:
Bringing Excellence Online, Part 1 of 3: Knowledge Transfer