What is up with all the manifestos lately? Every month or so, another one grabs my attention – last month it was content marketing, this week it’s connected learning.

My definition of “connected learning” is learning in community — in person or online, structured or informal. A study group — in person, on the phone, or in an online community — is a traditional example of connected learning.

Associations are ideally positioned to offer connected learning opportunities to members and prospects, so let’s take a look at some of the declarations in the Powerful Learning Practice Network’s Connected Learning Manifesto.

Connecting makes our thoughts and actions stronger.

Sounds like an association vision, doesn’t it? You’ve seen this come to life in your advocacy and community service efforts. In education, we see it in hallway conversations. Thinking out loud and discussing practices, problems, and ideas with peers makes a bigger impact in our lives than sitting passively in a lecture session.

Learn first, lead second.

Listen and learn. This advice goes beyond education to the essence of an association’s work. First listen to and learn about your members and their needs, challenges, and interests before deciding what’s best for them.

Want to learn the most? Bring people not like you into your network.

Diversity in perspectives provides a more solid base for knowledge and decision-making than a room full of yes-men. Whether we’re learning or leading, bringing in challenging viewpoints is a good exercise for our brain and hearts.

We believe in messy learning within a culture of collaboration.

One of the subchapters in Maddie Grant and Lindy Dreyer’s book Open Community is titled, “There’s something to be said for the mess.” Messiness is a characteristic of communities and of connected learning. It’s social, it’s informal, it’s human – don’t expect tidiness, but do expect dynamic, stimulating, and memorable learning experiences.

Experts are at your fingertips. You are never alone.

Think about your association community full of veteran professionals with decades of knowledge to share and newcomers with new approaches to old problems. When I need to learn about responsive design, cloud computing, A/B testing, e-learning, or surveys, I know I can find an expert in my association community.

Embrace failure as a learning strategy.

That’s a tough one, but I bet we can all think of times when we’ve struggled or outright failed. The lessons we learned from those experiences are not only imprinted into our brains but we ended up further along than we might have anticipated.

We’re entering a lot of new territory in the association world, including online learning. What works for one association and its members may not work for another, but these days we can’t afford not to try, learn, and try again.

Cell phones are learning tools. Relationships can be built 140 characters at a time.

Your members have new ways of communicating, associating, and learning, and it often begins in their pocket, purse, or bag – their phone or tablet. What was unthinkable for your members a year ago, or even now — like watching a live webcast on their tablet or participating in a community discussion on their phone – will be the new normal very soon.

Relationships that start online – in a community discussion, Twitter chat, or series of blog comments – can blossom into the real thing. I’ve seen it happen. It’s happened to me. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

Connections increase serendipitous learnings.

The more connections you make to others, especially to a diverse crowd of others, the more likely you’ll be exposed to new conversations, ideas, stories, and facts. Twitter is the home of serendipitous connections and learnings as long as you cast a wide (but discriminating) net of people to follow.

There’s nothing powerful about mere technology. Real power rests in the hearts and minds of those I learn with online.

When people like me get excited about new technology, it’s not the tool or technology itself that gets us going. It’s the potential that technology brings to our lives, particularly the potential to connect and learn with others. You can give your members that experience.

Deirdre Reid, CAE is a freelance writer who’s a sucker for a good manifesto and serendipitous Twitter discoveries.