Articulate User Groups: Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices.

Hey gang!

I recently brought up the topic of local user groups here in the community (Are You Interested in Local Articulate User Groups?) and the response was pretty loud and clear: You like the idea! 

A few community members suggested starting a separate forum thread just for people who are participating in these user groups, and since we aim to please, here it is!

If you're part of a Storyline user group (or interested in starting your own), this is your place to exchange ideas, experiences, tips, and best practices on what has worked, and hasn't worked, for your user group. 

Have at it! =)

42 Replies
David Charney

Thanks for creating this! I would love to start a Chicago user group. Let me know if anyone has interest. I have started a couple of user groups before. A few things I realized from my previous experiences:

  1. Enjoy yourself. It can be a lot of work but enjoy yourself.
  2. It is a lot of work! But it is constant learning and you meet a lot more of the community.
  3. There are lots of places that are happy to provide free space for user groups to meet. Call around. 
  4. Depending on how often you want a user group to meet, plan a number of meetings out before having your first meeting. This includes having networking, presentations, food, challenges, discussions, panels, whatever it might be, ready to go.
  5. Don't do it alone. The point of a group is to be a group and if there are people you can find that want to help, then by all means! Often you meet more people who want to play apart in the first number of meetings.
  6. Come up with ways to involve people. User groups sometimes get caught in hour long presentations. Mix it up with these, networking, local talent showcases, challenges like the ELH Challenge (https://community.articulate.com/hubs/e-learning-challenges).
  7. Freebies (yeah... they can bring people in and they are fun). I am not sure if Articulate has a program for this, sometimes they do. Does anyone know? If not, sometimes you can find other local companies dealing with eLearning who can invest some money for food, give-aways, etc.
  8. Have a website. A clear place for your group to look up info, see notes and wrap-ups, etc. Does Articulate have community sites for user groups?
  9. Enjoy yourself.

I am probably missing a bunch but that was off the top of my head.

Greg Damron

Hi Nicole,
Thanks for the shout out in the previous thread. Natalia Mueller and I have been leading a Storyline special interest group in St. Louis MO/IL bi-state area for most of 2014 and have had great results. The group is organized through the ATD St. Louis Chapter - after some awesome workshop events from Tom, Nicole, and team.

We had been looking to build a local Storyline support group for our Chapter members for some time. Everything came together and call it the ‘perfect storm’ if you will – we PR’d, and polled people for a few months to find the best times, days, and locations people thought they could attend. We held our first meeting on March 12, 2014 with amazing 40+ Storyline users attending and even a few more registering, but not able to make it.

The good news here for those of you who have said you would like to have a local group in your area is that you won’t necessarily need a perfect storm to get one started. I’m the Chapter President for the St. Louis ATD Chapter as well as an E-Learning Heroes Community Member. When attending the ATD Chapter leadership conference just two months ago, there were already several chapters in addition to St. Louis Chapter who had formed e-learning support groups and many others talking of starting them as they returned from the conference. There is a very good chance if you are near a city with an ATD Chapter, they may already have something in the works as a few of you have shared in the post prior to this one.

Speaking for my own chapter, it made great sense to build the special interest group. It fulfills our mission of serving our members, and helps in building our local e-learning community. The chapter systems and resources meant we didn’t need to start from scratch, and instead could just focus on having quality group meetings. Our meetings are free and open to any chapter member or guest who would like to attend. We’ve had several new members join the chapter as a result of our group, finding that in addition to providing for their special interest in Storyline, other chapter learning events also provided for their wider interests. On the Storyline side, the in person interactions at the local meetings complement the online support we’ve all grown to love through our E-Learning Heroes Community very nicely.

During our first meeting, we discussed how frequently to set the meetings and after some discussion, settled on bi-monthly (every two months). The rationale behind this was that many felt that monthly would be too frequent to routinely fit in their calendar, and quarterly meant that if they did miss a meeting it would be 6 months before they could get to another one. We’ve met bi-monthly ever since with our last meeting just a few weeks ago in November. The meetings are usually held on Weds or Thurs afternoon from 1p-4p.

Natalia, her company (RGA Reinsurance), and others from the RGA team have done an excellent job of hosting us throughout the year. Many many thanks go out to Natalia and the RGA team, ...although there was one exception when they weren't able to host. We needed to meet at another location in November - while they were moving to a new building. Many thanks to World Wide Technologies for volunteering to host our meeting that month.

Our typical meeting structure is made up of the segments listed below and we heavily encourage involvement from the group (usually an assortment, but not all on the list at each meeting):
- Meeting opening and new member introductions
- Program topics (one or multiple presenters, target 10-20 min each)
- Member Showcase, one or more members "showcasing" a project they may be particularly proud of
- Group eLearning Challenge project (often from the community), then share different approaches and solutions to the challenge
- Works in Progress, an open forum to ask advice or brainstorm with other members on current projects. It may be with a .story file open, or a discussion within the group where someone describes a problem they are trying to solve.
- Time for general tip sharing and Networking
- Other ideas as surfaced from the group

It’s a three hour meeting and it feels like it goes by pretty quickly. At the end of each meeting we distribute a two question survey for immediate feedback:
1) How would you rate and what comments do you have from today’s meeting? (time well spent, met your needs, topics were of interest)
2A) What topics are you interested in knowing more about at future meetings?
2B) What topics/projects would you be interested in presenting at future meetings?

So far we’ve gotten an overwhelming response in the feedback that it is has been time well spent, and we've also received many ideas for our future meetings.

It seems this has turned into a lengthy post. I would be happy to help with questions you may have, as I'm sure would Natalia.

If you are thinking about starting a group, I would strongly encourage you. It is a lot of work as David has said, but well worth the effort you'll put in. If you are near an ATD Chapter, and don't yet have a connection there, I would be happy to assist with an introduction. If you are not sure if you have one nearby, you can search chapter locations here: https://www.td.org/Members/Chapters/Chapter-Locator

Please feel free to reach out if you are wanting to start or in the process of starting a group and feel I can be of help.

Nicole Legault

Greg - Thank you, thank you, thank you!! For taking the time to write this very helpful and detailed post about your experience with the ST-Louis User Group. You've shared a lot of very valuable tips and information, and it's so kind of you to offer yourself up to answering questions or  helping out others who might be interested in starting their own groups. Thanks again. 

Kimberly Valliere

The North Texas Articulate User Group (or NTAUG, based in Dallas) held its first meeting October 22 with approx 20 people in attendance. We pretty much did a get to know each other, discuss the direction of the group and layout a game plan kind of meeting.

Our Dallas ATD chapter's Technology SIG group held a meeting on using Storyline, so I attended and announced the new group starting up to gather contact information for those interested in joining. I then sent out an informational survey to figure out the time that future members prefer to meet, find out where they are located in the DFW metroplex, and topics they'd like to see presented.

Coincidentally, Tom and David were in town in early October for one of their 2-day workshops and I also made an announcement there.

Natalia and Victoria (in Austin leading CTAUG) provided me with excellent advice for getting started!

We opted for meeting quarterly with meetings scheduled for February 4, May 6, August 5, November 4 from 5:00-7:00pm. One of the members volunteered to cover Templates/Custom Color Scheme for the February meeting and we'll do a Challenge Showcase (to start us off, I picked 5 of David's earlier challenges) and General Q&A. We have a list of topics from the survey and the group elected to choose the next meeting topic at each meeting so that our topics are relevant to the group needs.

Our biggest challenge at the moment is the area in which we live. It is tough to choose a meeting location that is convenient for everyone since the Metroplex is so large. For now, we're going to contain ourselves to the North Dallas/Addison/Plano area. There has also been talk of hosting a virtual meeting.

I'd be happy to discuss the NTAUG futher, feel free to shoot me an email at ntexaug at gmail.

 

Greg Damron

Thanks Nicole, this is a great community and I'm happy to help.

Please reach out to me at gregdamron33@gmail.com if there are questions I can help with (sorry I forgot to include that earlier).

@ David and Jonathan, I may be able to provide introductions in both Chicago and San Francisco.

Tracy Parish

Tracy Parish @Tracy_Parish
Organizing #Articulate meet up Toronto/GTA area users. Wed Feb 18th 5:00-7:00, location TBA - let me (Tracy) know if interested.

Holly MacDonald @sparkandco
Organizing #articulate meet up Vancouver area users. Weds Jan 21st 4:30 - 6:30, location TBA - let me (Holly) know if interested.

 

Link to additional thread.

Kevin Thorn

Great stuff and thanks for the tips David, Greg, and Kimberly.

I'm kicking off a Memphis user group this year. Already tied in with ATD Memphis so check that box. When and where is our first meeting? Don't know yet, but we have a similar challenge as Kimberly with such a large metro area to find a central convenient location. I do know it will probably involve BBQ, though!

Thanks for sharing your tips and if you hear of anyone interested in this area, send them my way. I travel a lot to conferences, client visits, and give workshops at ATD chapters - will definitely look into visiting area user groups if the timing is right.

Matthew Guyan

Hi everyone,

Apologies for the late post but we had our AUG in Sydney a few weeks ago and we were very happy with the way it went. We had just over 30 people come along and myself and my colleagues Ruth and Ben talked about master slides, colour & font themes, button sets, true/false variables, motion paths and sliders.

We even had David Anderson Skype in which was really cool. We were hoping that we might have had a few volunteers offer to present but in reality people seem to prefer to come along and watch at first. We've had three expressions of interest from people for the next one.

We also filmed the presentations and put some highlights together. We also learned a few lessons about film making for the next one. Here's a link to the highlights:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z84ET_-QRHQ&feature=youtu.be

The entire clip is about 32 minutes long so to make it easier to jump to different sections, here’s when each starts:

Matt: 0.39, Ruth: 6.59, David: 19.24, Ben: 20.09

I'd just like to thank Nicole for sending me her user group checklist and to those who've contributed to this thread, your advice was most helpful!

We've got more meetups planned - in Newcastle of May 28 and Melbourne on July 29.

Will let you know how it goes :-)

Cheers,

Matt

 

Kimberly Valliere

Nicole--any thoughts on creating some kind of speaker list? For instance, the Dallas group is running into a little bit of a snag finding speakers and if we had a list of potential guest speakers (virtual of course), we could all bug the daylights out of the same willing participants until he/she removes his/her name from the list. ;) Kidding, sort of.

I'm just noodling these thoughts and will likely reach out to people based on a topic of interest for our group. Right now i'm working to find someone who has conquered creating software simulations with Storyline--will also include demonstrations of any sort, but not necessarily limited to screencasting.

Sara Healy

Thank you so much! There has been a great response already and I'm excited to get moving on plans for a meetup. I am working on an initial meeting of folks who will form the core of the group the last week of July or first week of August. This core will help shape the form function if the user group, make key formation decisions ahead of the launch, publicize the group and its meetings, and provide content for the first substantive meeting. I plan to post more regarding this core meeting on the Facebook and LinkedIn pages in the coming week.

Truong Alexandre

Nicole, any chance, you could send me this checklist as well. I am researching tips to lead multiple user groups that my company would like to launch in September.  Thanks in advance. I also created a thread on linkedIn but it hasn't raise much feedback: https://www.linkedin.com/grp/post/4075350-6028383521716854787?trk=groups-post-b-title

Equipo eLearning

Hi Nicole,

I don't know if it's the begining of a Users Group, but I would like be part of an Articulate Spanish Forum. There are many users in my country Argentina but there are many more in Mexico, Colombia and Spain. I started a Zendesk for this in soporte.puntomov.com but need the help of someone else to keep it up to date.

 

 

Ryan DeWitt

Alright, this post has me fired up to a create a NC Research Triangle Area User Group for Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill. Looking for a partner..however I'll shoot for Dec for the first meeting at Starbucks Lakeboone Raleigh (free meeting room and lots-o-caffeine) . I'll put additional info on the Meetup app. Stay tuned :]