Third Thought Launches to the Broader Association Market

BY Jeff Cobb


A while back I wrote about efforts of the Michigan Society of Association Executives (ASAE) to launch Third Thought, an online learning destination for its membership. Having used the platform successfully with members, MSAE is now launching Third Thought out into the broader association market.

In this brief video, I talk with MSAE Cheryl Ronk about what Third Thought is, who it’s for, and how she sees the initiative evolving over the coming year.

In our conversation, Ronk says MSAE had struggled to find an affordable solution that connected online learning content with taxonomies for knowledge management. Her goal was to provide members with a cohesive “digital library,” but there was not an off-the-shelf solution that met MSAE’s needs. (The convergence of learning management and knowledge management – and the slow pace of vendors in providing strong solutions – is an issue we address in our 10 Critical Shifts in the Market for Lifelong Learning document as well as in the related podcast episode.)

So, the organization worked with I2 Integration to develop full-featured knowledge and learning platform based on open source code. Ronk also emphasizes that the development of application programming interfaces, or APIs, has also been an important part of the initiative. APIs help ensure the Third Thought platform can be integrated with any membership management system an association uses. (Related article: AMS-LMS Integration: A Primer.)

Ronk is a firm believer that even smaller associations like MSAE need the technical capacity to provide the knowledge opportunities members needs and expect. One of the key roles that association should play, she says, is to be trustworthy and accurate curators of knowledge in the fields and industries they serve.

MSAE has invested to build out the core of Third Thought. Over the coming year, the organization aims to start working with other associations to implement the platform, gather input on customer needs, and use that input to continue to add to and improve Third Thought’s capabilities.

Jeff

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