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« Guest post by Kate Bladow: My Name Is Kate and I'm a Listener | Main | Guest Post by Brooke McMillan: How LIVESTRONG Uses Social Media To Animate Its Community »

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Liz Lennon

Hi Beth

I read all your posts and this one has got to be one of the most informative in covering general concerns of organisations about social media.

I've worked for over 25 years with non profits to develop learning and performance cultures.

At the core I believe that service users deserve the best quality services ...and that requires a confident and competent workforce.

The small to medium non profits I know have very limited budgets for L&P [ and even less now in Ireland as they struggle to have funds for wage].

They also [in the main] have a kind of avoidance approach to anything to do with online learning and social media - their time tends to be focused on providing services.

I also realised that they can't afford to buy learning management systems and find them quite complex and to be blunt ...ugly.

So, last year I decided to see if I could design and build an online learning space that was ... beautiful+ practical+affordable.

I wanted to build it on an open source lms or cms platform and embed it with a range of social media tools that would help the workforce to store and share and exchange knowledge and information ...that usually gets lost or is only shared informally.

I have zero experience as a developer but I do have a strong understanding of nonprofit and community development process ... combined with a love of design and the power of social media to connect + challenge + communicate.

I approached a long term client of mine who work with the most marginalised homeless people in Ireland [Depaul Ireland - http://depaultrust.ie]] and asked their CEO if they would be my test organisation for a yet to be built idea!

Kerry [who is a self admitted IT avoider] said Yes.They are at the cutting edge of service delivery so they are very open to interesting blue sky ideas that would help their workers and service users.

They are truly amazing ... and I also had a deep and positive relationship with them.

I called the idea SKIL2 [Spaces for Knowledge + Innovation + Learning + Leadership] and developed a process that has 3 core elements -

P2 - Profitable Partnerships with non profits, profits and third level institutions

CCI - Creative Inward Investment that involves Building Up the internal staff as learning facilitators;Buying In required hardware & expertise;and Get it Free through donations of time and equipment

PC - Project Management that was informed by a value driven development process and principles of adult learning.

After a number of presentations to senior staff and managers I formed the SKIL2 Depaul Team who meet with me every 6 weeks for 3 hours.

They are a small team of 6 with senior management on it.They are a critical part in the design and buy in process within Depaul.

I have them [all for the first time] working with me within the SKIL2 Ning site [http://skil222.ning.com] so they can 'live and learn' how all this social media stuff works.

During our meetings [in a wified room]I take them online and show them wikis and open courseware sites and how other organisations are using Facebook.

I took them to your social media toolkit site ...they loved it.I also gave their fundraising team the article you wrote showing the Airforce social media policy diagram.

As we explore my SKIL2 site design [which is totally intuitive and they love it] they ask and explore questions of policy and practice and how SKIL2 can be used and embedded.

They are learning and in the process becoming SKIL 2 champions.

I'm documenting this whole process and it will form part of the SKIl2 learning package.

After a year ...and the excellent input of the SKIL2 Depaul Team ...I feel I can now go to a third level institution and get some masters students to build a prototype. I'm doing this for free at the moment and have no funding.

I'm in conversation with a third level institution now and hope to begin actual work on the prototype before the end of the year.

I also have some great leads on funding through the National Digital Research Centre here in Ireland.

SKIL2 is being developed to meet key learning and performance needs that I have seen in all the non profits i work with ...it's really about the user and learner.

SKIL2 is just a tool to meet those deep and urgent needs.

I wrote this long note because I want to let you know Beth that your blog is helping me and the team develop many aspects of SKIl2 ... you've been a SKIL2 mentor without your knowing!

I also wrote it for your readers because I want them to see that it's possible to meet deep learning needs using new media ... with persistence and belief and the support of great people.

I tell people that SKIL2 will be the Citroen 2cv of learning management systems tools and not a porsche.

My learning curve has been vertical.

I'm still excited by the potential of SKIL2 to create spaces for workers to have conversations about good practice ... and support each other in the challenging work they do every day.

I'll let you know how it all progresses Beth.

Liz

Jessica F

It's funny how you say "I was a little nervous that an hour-long talking head interview might be boring" You are NEVER boring Beth Kanter! I always walk away learning something new from you.

Thanks again for the copy of the book. You can count on me to follow up with you!!!

Melinda Lewis

This is very helpful. I think that the tools/technique described have tremendous potential application in education, too--think how we could connect across institutions, bring in guest experts, engage the community in higher ed...I'm bookmarking this for my ongoing 'break down walls in higher ed' work. As far as the topics, I'd like to see more on that "we started without listening, how do we regroup?" I see, even with my students, the challenges in incorporating social media b/c of the bar that is set in terms of engagement. I feel guilty, for example, when I can't monitor conversations in response to my tweets as well as I would like b/c things with my kids get crazy or something in my 'real' job (the stuff the university requires) interferes--it makes me feel like I'm inadvertently broadcasting, just because I can't be as conscientious about the listening as I'd like. And I often wonder how to 'make up' with my contacts at those points!

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