Category Archives: Peer learning

On a recruitment drive – #net2welly

NetSquared Wellington winter event flierThis spring NetSquared Wellington will be hosting a day-long unconference for changemakers, people working in their grassroots communities and communicators in NGOs. We will offer a day for people to learn from each other about putting technology to good use.

There is a team of stellar organisers working on details at the moment, with a notice about a date coming out soon.

In the meantime, we’ve got a programme of lunchtime learning events. These are free, fun and great for networking as well as learning.

If you know of anyone that you think might be interested in attending, you could suggest they look at the NetSquared Wellington meet-up page, or you could give or send them a brochure. Digital versions attached here, or I can post out a hardcopy if this you reckon this will be more convincing.

Upcoming meet-ups:

Cyclists heading on a journey, on social media, Tuesday 26 May 2015
Some successes and secrets from the very active Cycle Aware Wellington.

Social Media Surgery, Wednesday 1 July 2015
Book-in to get one-to-one advice from a social media professional. Co-hosted by the Community Comms Collective (www.communitycomms.org.nz).

Making the most of Google for Nonprofits, Tuesday 28 July 2015
An introduction to Google’s super grant.

RSVP without delay.

Attachment:
NetSquared_Brochure_May2015_PRINT (PDF 1.2MB)

No #net2welly website yet, but we have a plan

NetSquared Wellington website plan: very messy writing on whiteboardWhen I turned up to facilitate the “A new #Net2Welly website in an hour?” meetup yesterday, I was prepared to get stuck in with website installation and design.

I had hosting arranged with Crazy Domains, and checked they had WordPress ready to install at the push of a button. I’d already paid $14.95 for the net2welly.org.nz domain.

The plan was to work in small groups on different aspects of website development. I envisages people working at three or four tables covering: installation and set-up; graphic design; structure and content; and testing/ launch.

With only half of the 12 people who RSVP’d actually in the room — poor turnouts being one of the drawbacks of the informal meetup format — these plans quickly changed. It made sense to work as single group.

And we didn’t go anywhere near the control panel, DNS set-up or plugin directories. Instead, we arrived at the end of our hour long workshop with a plan.

Skipping the talking part of the process and essentially doing things on the fly would most likely have a led to a train web wreck. Maybe not fatal, but highly likely a site heading off the rails. Discussion what will be valuable our community and narrowing the focus are fundamental starting points.

As we started Alan Royal shared Rudyard Kipling’s timeless advice: “I keep six honest serving men (they taught me all i knew); Theirs names are What and Why and When And How And Where and Who.”

And that’s exactly what we covered: our goals, linkages with the big picture NetSquared vision, how would the website sit alongside other community IT initiatives in Wellington, who is the audience, what content could we easily co-create as volunteers, how will people interact, and what will it take to ensure the website is accessible to all.

Ultimately, we had to decide whether a website will be a valuable addition to communities in Wellington. After a round where everyone had their say, the answer was yes. Our goal is offer a virtual extension of our regular NetSquared Wellington meetings: part learning, part networking, part social.

As well as meetup and other event notices, we plan to share short posts about stuff we learn about using technology for social change. Maybe this is from a workshop or webinar network members attend. Or perhaps brave experiments with coding or online communication.

Anyone willing to abide by some simple community guidelines will be able to create and add a blog post. Brave stuff in a world where everyone constantly pleads they’re “busy, busy, busy”. Busy, schmbusy: we’ll give it ago.

Other ideas we’ll explore include:

  • a project space that could connect people with IT needs with those with skills to offer
  • a page with resources or sign-posts about essential, useful online tools and ways of doing stuff
  • sharing the good words and connecting people via a popular social network (or two).

First we have to build the website, something we’re due to begin together on Tuesday 12 August. Come along, all fingers and devices at the ready.

Even though we didn’t actually build the #net2welly website in the allocated hour, we’re off to a great start.

Attending NTC in person, in Washington DC

Summary of NTC sessions highlighted in bright colours,

Over the past few weeks I’ve been pouring over the Nonprofit Technology Conference (#14ntc) programme.

Making choices about what to attend is a lot harder when attending in person, than it is when joining online.

A major obstacle when ‘attending’ the online version of the huge three day conference is not so much choice of sessions, but the timing. As the annual techfest is hosted in one large US city or another, it means the morning sessions start at a ridiculously, early hour.

Nevertheless I managed to catch some sessions when I’ve registered in the past. These have been both relevant and irreverent.

Somewhat fortuitously back in 2012 — in a this-is-meant-to-be-kinda-way — I watched NetSquared Vancouver co-organiser Elijah van der Giessen being interviewed in one of the conference intermissions.

Spurred by tales of learning, dress-ups and other mad-cap escapades, I set the wheels in motion to form a local Wellington #net2 network.

Skip ahead two years, my involvement in the NetSquared community is taking me to Washington DC.

The #14ntc conference (13-15 March) is secondary to the main reason I’ll be in town. Either side of the conference I’ll be workshopping, learning, chatting and plotting with fellow NetSquared ambassadors, other NetSquared co-organisers from across North America, and some of the TechSoup team.

After many conference calls, FB updates and online sessions, I’m really excited at the prospect of swapping notes with my fellow regional ambassadors Maria, Excel and Mel. We’ve lots to share about how tech/ web is being used by communities in West Africa, Central America, and Europe.

As well seeing the monumental sites in Washington DC, I’ll spend a few days in San Francisco on my way home. I’m particularly looking forward to chatting with the irrepressible Beth Kanter, on her home turf.

My trip is only possible because my wonderful partner Roz will tend to the home fires. I’m chuffed at sponsorship from @TechSoup, and support from my bosses at @goodresearch and @nzdrug.

If you want to see which of the 100- plus sessions I end up joining in, I’ll share a few pics and notes about what I do, see and hear. See my storify story or follow #SBinDC.

Sharing EYC unConference gems

Animated discussion about tech topics around table, at EYC unConferenceSpontaneous. Serendipity. These two words are still echoing in my mind from the wrap-up session of the Engage Your Community (EYC) unConference.

At our closing session last Saturday we asked all the co-learners to shout out words about the day. These ‘s’ words really did capture the spirit of out time together.

It may seem a terrifying prospect to start a learning event with a blank agenda. We didn’t know what would be covered. Who would talk. If people would jump in to learn together.

But jump in everyone did. There seemed barely a wasted minute. Discussion about using tech and the web for community was loud and continuous.

Included in the list of topics covered were Google tools, accessibility, basics of web design, responsive design in wordpress, Chalkle community learning and online collaboration. The full agenda is recorded on the front page of the EYC unConference wiki.

The final session was an experiment: we called it speed geeking. In a fast and furious session people learnt about wikis, blogging and URL shorteners.

The topics for this session were chosen through an impromptu voting exercise, and the ‘presenters’ volunteered to speak on the fly. The format had people moving every 10 minutes between the three topic tables.

Our motto for the day was that no burning question would go unanswered. We’ll have to await for the report on the evaluation forms people filled in to see if we achieved this.

As one of the co-organisers, I left happy. My litmus test of success was whether I enjoyed myself and learnt things, and seeing if people stayed until the end. I maybe biased, but I’d say all were achieved.

As for my own learning, I’ve already been following up on some links. These include to site monitoring services like site247x.com and WordPress emulator called Instant WorldPress, sadly Windows only.

Thanks are due to:

  • Andrena for her work coordinating everything
  • Our volunteers on the day – Keith, Eileen and Justine, all NetSquared Wellington stalwarts
  • Massey University for hosting us
  • Microsoft NZ and Wellington City Council for sponsorship support.

When we debrief about the event next week, our agenda includes the question of when to run another unConference. I’ll report back after we talk. If this is something that you’d like to help with, don’t hesitate to raise your hand.

EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014
EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014
EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014
EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014

We’d love to add more photos to this album – get in touch if you’d like some help sharing.

Is it okay to use the ‘F’ word in your organisation?

Hand written sketchnotes from the Placing Small Bets plenary session

Admit it: we all make mistakes. And try things that don’t work. There’s no shame in this, so the saying goes.

Yet, when things go awry it’s something we tend to keep quiet about. Or brush aside. We definitely do not shout out loud I failed.

If Beth Kanter has her way, we’ll change our ways. We need to look at ‘failure’ afresh.

As she recently wrote “people won’t try out new ideas or approaches if failure is seen as a career-killer. But when it’s treated like what it is — an opportunity to learn — it can be a fun and rewarding process.”

At the Nonprofit Technology Conference – held 11-13 April in Minneapolis (which I joined as a virtual participant) – Beth invited participants to take a failure bow.

Stand up and acknowledge failure was the message Beth and her fellow panellists sahred with the 1500 participants.

It isn’t obligatory to make such a public song and dance about acknowledging failures. There are quieter, internal rituals that organisational can adopt to make it okay to say things didn’t work.

A few examples of organisations consciously addressing failure are shared in a recent blog post by Beth (“Go ahead, take a Failure Bow!” published on Harvard Business Review blog). Holding a quarterly FailFest, running joyful funerals and organising honest loser awards are some of the practices organisations have adopted.

There is a serious point to the frivolity: organisations need to be brave and own up when dump things just don’t work. Trying new things is stifled if everyobody is too scared to make mistakes.

At workshops Beth is running in Auckland next month, participants will be invited to fess up and take a failure bow. I’m not sure how people will react, but I certainly have my share of failures to own up to.

Can you see open acknowledgement of failure playing a role in your organisation?

PS Don’t miss out on learning from Beth. Register now for workshops on 11 & 13 May 2013, in Auckland.

NetSquared for Wellington?

NetSquared button: net2, with tagline share, build, collaborateThere is lots of great sharing going on at the monthly Wellington NGO webmaster networking events which got underway in November last year.

We’ve touched lightly on a heap of topics, and dug into depth on a few. Hot topics include choosing a content management system, email newsletter distribution options and analytics. At yesterday’s session Julian provided an overview of instant website builders Weebly and Google Sites – opinions were mixed.

Getting out from behind the computer to swap notes in person seems valuable for those that participate. What is obvious to me is that many more people could benefit from the korero. Plus the topics people touch on range far wider than just websites.

Watching the recent broadcast of the online Nonprofit Technology Conference beamed in from San Francisco I caught a short lunchtime interview with two local organisers of NetSquared networking events.

One of them was the enthusiastic and friendly Elijah van der Giessen who I conversed with at the Connecting Up conference in Melbourne last year. His vivid description of how the regular Net Tuesday Vancouver networking events really benefit NGOs convinced me to look into the net2 movement further.

Bringing together people with an interest in using technology to promote social benefits is at the core of NetSquared. It’s an initiative of the TechSoup software donation and capacity building organisation. They promote innovative uses of the web to help NGOs through challenges and events, along with support for loose, local networking events (called Net Tuesday).

Seeing all this makes me wonder if we could run NetSquared here in Wellington?

It would mean broadening the scope of the nascent webmaster network. This is probably no bad thing as few people in the NGO sector identify as being a webmaster. As well as those working in NGOs, Net Tuesday would be open to interested professionals, people going online for things other than websites (which is most people), and individuals with a passion for social justice.

NetSquared aims to support people “to connect locally with all those interested in the intersection of social technologies and social change”. This definition is a good description of what participants coming to the existing networking events are actually doing.

I like the idea of a network where the philosophy is centred on network members organising stuff for themselves. As well as a monthly Net Tuesday meet up (which I’ll happily convene along with any other willing organisers), people could run other events. NetSquared pay for a Meetup subscription to support spontaneous networking.

I notice in Vancouver there is a Salesforce sub-group. So webmasters or any other specialist group could keep meeting under a broader umbrella. And of course events could be run in weekends or over breakfast (no thanks!!).

When I raised this idea at the networking event yesterday, there were nods of support and a few good questions. I promised to canvas more widely before arriving at a conclusion.

So, Wellingtonians wanting to remix the web for social change, what do you think about the idea of setting up a NetSquared network? Your thoughts?

Update: the first Net Tuesday will be held on 19 June. Register and get update dates on NetSquared Wellington.