It’s been a few months but the Community Spotlight is back and this month we are shining the light on the Michigan Society of Association Executives (MSAE) and their online learning platform, Third Thought.
Third Thought is a knowledge management system that was designed to help MSAE’s members – and other associations – deal with everyday work challenges and master three facets to be successful in the profession: personal awareness, association knowledge, and industry understanding. It hosts a digital library, virtual courses, including CMP/CAE prep courses, an online community forum, on-demand learning, and a variety of self-assessments with accompanying resources.
And although this is the first time we are highlighting Third Thought here in the community, we’ve already tried to spread the word about what makes this such an exemplary platform on our blog. In our first post about it, 5 Practices to Emulate from MSAE’s Third Thought Online Learning, Jeff Cobb shared what we all can learn from the effective design of this platform including:
- It’s fueled by vision
- It’s got a name and a brand
- It’s not just about courses
- It’s a platform – and a journey
- It’s Third Thought – definitely not “afterthought”
According to MSAE president, Cheryl Ronk, having the opportunity for members to get the information when they need it is what she believes associations need to be moving towards. She also emphasizes the important role associations should have as curators of quality information and Third Thought provides a way to effectively do this.
As fellow community member Edward Woods III, Director of Learning and Leadership Experiences at MSAE explains, “As Third Thought continues to emerge into a robust association library, online lounge for members, and self-assessment resource to identify professional development opportunities for association professionals, it will become an indispensable tool for our learning and leadership experiences at MSAE.”
Some other noteworthy features of Third Thought include:
- The application programming interface (API) plugs in so it can work with any membership management system an association uses
- Ability to customize content with tiered access—free, member-only, and premium
- Built on an open source system so it is expandable
- Brings together knowledge management and learning management
- It’s affordable – MSAE is small but they were still able to provide a solution to give members what they need
- It provides a unique classroom environment for engagement and interaction for their CMP Online Prep Course
Now that MSAE has built a solid foundation and successfully used the platform with members, they have recently been working on making it available to other associations—see Jeff’s recent blog post, Third Thought Launches to the Broader Association Market. Although Third Thought currently houses all of MSAE’s content, any association can now use this as a model/template and then customize it accordingly.
In the coming year, MSAE hops to work with other associations to implement Third Thought and create more user groups to share best practices. They are also committed to helping people with their taxonomies since they have been through the process already.
MSAE is by no means done with developing Third Thought – instead it will continue to evolve over time – but according to Ronk, the most important thing now is members are using it and they continue to use feedback provided to improve the system’s capabilities.
Make sure to check out our previous Community Spotlight posts below :