Taking Solomon to the next level, the Learning & Development Team aims to transform a personal advancement into a shared experience we will all enjoy
Solomon has been built from the ground up and now has more than 34,000 registered users – around 17 per cent of the UGLE membership. To take it to the next level, we have to understand the needs of our users.
After all, Freemasons are highly diverse. Different lodges and chapters have clear and distinct cultures, and Solomon needs to cater for as many of these as possible.
Additionally, past research has identified a range of different motivations that bring people into Freemasonry. Two of these are a curiosity about symbolism and the underlying moral lessons which lead someone to be a ‘better person’, another is an interest in the history and tradition of Freemasonry. These are already addressed in the content of the many Nuggets and Papers that Solomon contains.
A significant proportion of our membership was motivated by charity, while some sought like-minded people. Others wanted to meet people from diff erent backgrounds, or were attracted because Freemasonry represents a tradition and an enduring set of values that give a sense of stability in an ever-changing world.
Perhaps what we have not done sufficiently is to think about how Solomon might support those who have a more social orientation to Freemasonry. We also need to consider how to market Solomon to make its benefits clearer and more motivating for those with particular interests. To achieve this, John Roscoe undertook a survey of users. To date, 700 members have responded, from new initiates to members with more than 40 years in the Craft and Royal Arch. Here’s what they told us.
All users find Solomon helps them better understand Freemasonry
It’s clear that people across Freemasonry go to Solomon for their personal use and to develop their own understanding, with 90 per cent of recent initiates reporting that Solomon helps them get a better understanding of Freemasonry. More than 75 per cent of those with more than 40 years’ experience agree. Over 90 per cent of all users say that there’s a lot of material they want to return to.
Solomon wisdom is shared by more than half of users
More than 50 per cent of users share Solomon Nuggets and Papers with other Freemasons on a one-to-one basis. It’s mostly more experienced members sharing with junior ones. However, 55 per cent say that their lodge or chapter has not yet used Solomon in meetings but intends to.
We found that less experienced Freemasons tend to use Solomon for their own benefit, with those with 15+ years of experience sharing content more regularly. This peaks for those with 20 to 30 years of experience – presumably when they have been through the Chair/s and are likely to have had further promotion in their masonic careers.
Specific feedback gave us inspiration
Almost 50 per cent of respondents gave specific comments on Solomon, some challenging, others neutral, but the majority supportive of our current approach. This gave some great insights on how to take the platform forward.
The 13 per cent of comments that questioned the current approach mainly had reservations about ease of navigation or the content itself. The team is taking these comments on board and are maximising the ease of use of the platform.
Neutral feedback made up 30 per cent and was generally from those who felt they had not yet fully grasped the platform, but indicated they wanted to know more. They were less likely to use Nuggets or Papers in their lodges and chapters and felt that Solomon had made less impact in their unit. This group is most in need of explaining the benefits of using Solomon beyond their personal learning.
Some 57 per cent of feedback was positive and focused on great content, good variety, and ease of access. This group was also the most likely to share content with others and reported the biggest benefit to their units. We are developing Solomon to further engage this audience with audio, video, quizzes, webinars and increased social interaction.
Solomon is working for individuals, but not enough in lodges and chapters
The first conclusion to be drawn is that Solomon is succeeding in its ambition to satisfy the needs of those who want to use it for personal study. Almost 80 per cent of respondents stated they were using Solomon for their own use and were very satisfied with how it worked for them.
There were few negative comments about content, so it is evident that we are clearly succeeding in the material that we present.
Another positive is that 50 per cent of respondents (mainly experienced Freemasons) have passed on material to other members.
We need to work more on how Solomon could penetrate into the life of lodges and chapters. Only 40 per cent of respondents reported that they had used Nuggets while 30 per cent of them had used Papers in their lodges and chapters. Nearly 20 per cent who do not use Nuggets are in lodges and chapters that do not report an intention of using material from Solomon in the future.
What next for Solomon?
Our plan is to increase our focus on how we market and publicise Solomon and the whole UGLE Learning & Development approach to provide evidence of the benefits for those who are reserving judgement.
We will also devote more of our energy to uncovering the benefits of Solomon for lodges and chapters using the material, and incorporate this on how we develop and communicate these benefits that are available beyond personal learning.
After all, for most, Freemasonry is about a fraternity that makes you a better person. The content Solomon offers can be a catalyst for this by making understanding a social experience, and bringing about a shared sense of progress.