Over the next six months, I will have the pleasure of working with NTEN and Holly Ross on a new community-driven funded by the Surdna Foundation. The reason I am excited about this project is because it represents a new area of inquiry for me as well as a chance to deepen my learning in the topics that I've been writing about here on this blog for years. But the best reason of all is a chance to work with other people who are passionate about nonprofits and social media.
Here's the project description (and it's evolving)
The Be The Media Project is a community of people from nonprofits who are interested in learning and teaching about how social media strategies and tools can enable nonprofit organizations to create, compile, and distribute their stories and change the world. Curated by NTEN, the community will worked in a networked way to help identify the best existing resources, people, and case studies that will give nonprofit organizations the knowledge and resources they need to BE the media. The community will help identify and point to the best how-to guides and useful resources that cover all aspects of creating, aggregating, and distributing social media. The resulting curriculum which will live on this wiki and will also cover important organizational adoption issues, strategy, ROI analysis, as well as the tools.
Ultimately, we hope to build this wiki and community into the "go to place" for vetted resources about social media strategies and nonprofits for individuals who work for or with nonprofits and need practical advice about getting started or to quickly access best practices, examples, or experience from other practitioners working in nonprofits.
As part of this project, NTEN will host a two-day face-to-face social media and nonprofits workshop, a boot camp that will cover strategies, tactics, and tools and will drive from resources in this wiki. The wiki is being released under a creative commons "by" license, the least restrictive license so that those who are training people from nonprofits are free to use or remix it for their needs.
So, what's my role in all of this? Let begin by telling you what my role is not - it isn't to sit alone and write content and curriculum from scratch and use a wiki as a content management system. My role is to help build the community while curating the curriculum/content. We'll be taking DIY approach, remixing and/or pointing as much as possible. In one sense the community is the curriculum and we will be working together in a networked way.
This is an emerging experiment of a community working a networked way. There are different ways to participate. There is an advisory group who are working on curriculum and workshops geared at helping nonprofits use social media. (Anyone is welcome to join - if you're interested ping me) We hope to leverage their networks and also reach out to subject matter experts and practitioners who will help us build out the modules in "Swarms."
So, the next task is to set up a small experiment. The experiment is to go through the process of building one module - it will give us two things - an understanding of how build curriculum together in a networked way and a finished module. Then, we move onto module 2, improving upon what worked and stop doing what didn't work. The inspiration for the process is what Michele Martin has done with her 30 days to better commenting challenges. I asked her for advice:
- Consider running swarms as a series of smaller targeted tasks (i.e., today contribute 1 example of a great digital story, tomorrow contribute 1 digital story-telling resource). I've noticed that people seem to respond better to very specific, concrete suggestions.
- Use the module template as the framework for discussion and participation. For example your headings "learning objectives," "key questions," etc. lends itself to having people discuss these issues--i.e., This week we're discussing the art of story-telling. Today we want to know what you think the key skills are that nonprofits need to tell an effective story. Tomorrow we want to know the key questions nonprofits should be asking, etc. Although I know the preference would be to have people add info directly into the wiki, we might want to consider encouraging people to blog about it (tagging appropriately) and then we could pull from their the key ideas. That way these issues are framed as discussion topics that might invite more participation. People who might not otherwise contribute might do so if it's in the framework of talking about issues.
- Set a time-frame. # number of days to building a module or something like that. People also seem to respond to the "challenge" aspect.
- I'd open the swarms to as wide a group as possible--getting examples from other sectors isn't a bad thing to learn from either, plus they have perspectives, etc. that might be worth considering.
This represents a new curiosity and learning opportunity for me - the sweet spot between community and network. I have not idea what that looks like or how it works ..... We will start the building out the first module next week.
What do you think? Any advice before jumping off this cliff?