2021-10-18 19:21:24

This basic approach to raising money and recruiting volunteers is known as an engagement ladder. While the method is an industry standard, it misses out on a critical new tool for online engagement.

The Future of Engagement

In a typical engagement ladder, raising awareness is a means to an end—a way to capture people’s attention to drive them towards a particular action. But let’s be real. Movements don’t make lasting change with an army of automatons sleepwalking up a ladder of engagement. Movements are driven by informed, impassioned citizens who deeply understand a social problem and what it takes to solve that problem. Such activists think proactively, and get motivated to act in myriad ways that fit their own skills and lives.

Deep engagement through education has been the missing piece.

There’s good reason for this. In the past, education was difficult to design, expensive to deliver, and extremely hard to offer at scale. Education stood at the tippy-top of engagement ladders—a special tool provided only to staff or super-volunteers.

But now, educational technology has come into its own. Just as anyone with a laptop can now create a website, so has e-learning become relatively easy to implement. And thus, the problem of creating engaging, affordable, rigorous online learning at scale has been cracked by a number of platforms—from MOOCs to next-gen learning management systems to blended learning experiences that combine digital and face-to-face learning.

When we started up in 1999, interactive websites were something advocacy groups believed were necessary to have, but intimidating to contemplate. As a result, many avoided diving in. In 2004, such groups faced the same challenge with internet video. In 2010, it was social media. Each time, those that embraced the emerging technologies found the process difficult at first, but enormously rewarding in time. Online education is next. It’s time we all took the first steps.