Monthly Archives: November 2009

So Much to Learn!

TechSoup publishes a great list of free online webinars on 2.0 topics.

I often schedule time to attend or listen to webinars over lunchtime, or on a particular day of the week as a break. They’re also great learning tools for interns, and I include relevant webinars as part of a volunteer intern’s training plan.

How do you squeeze in time for online learning? Have any favorite sites or learning strategies to recommend?

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Tips for Today

There are so many great sources of info out there—I have my RSS feed pulled into my iGoogle page, and it’s great for procrastination.

It’s also pretty great for getting snippets of info. Here are just a few from today:

  • 50 Social Media Tips for NPOs from Chad Norman’s ‘Webby Things’
  • Connection Cafe’s notes about non-traditional & year-end giving (including Oxfam’s campaign) this season
  • Current favorite food blogger David Leibovitz has something to say about local foods in France. No one said I was limited to just nonprofit interests!
  • I’ve got some other ‘learning locations’ linked over to the right. How about you? Where do you get your best ‘nonprofits on the web’ (or other!) info–blogs or otherwise?

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    Web-Based Meeting & Presentation Glom

    Over the past six months, I’ve experiemented with a number of tools for both web presentations and virtual meetings (and even learned to think about the difference between the two!). I’ve used ReadyTalk, GoToMeeting, AdobeConnect and Skype (with a plug-in).

    GoToMeeting was dismissed in one instance in favor of ReadyTalk’s larger capacity, recording capability, and integrated voice and presentation link. In another instance, the audio only connected via phone and not online.

    ReadyTalk has a great low-cost subscription on TechSoup (and a free trial online). Plus, they have free webinars available to anyone, awesome customer service, and they are a Colorado-based company. What more can you ask for?

    Being the Luddite I am, though, I’m going to hang with Skype for the time being.

    Mostly, I need an online meeting tool, but since those can drag on, it’s nice to be able to share screens and chat. Unyte is a plug-in for Skype that does just that. So does Mikogo, apparently. I haven’t tried either, but as a comfortable Skype user, they are next on my list. This dual-solution is not going to be the best for formal presenations like trainings, or recordings.

    My other favorite tool for sharing info online, though it doesn’t really count as a presentation tool per se and it doesn’t have audio, is the free, recordable ‘chat’ function of CoverItLive.

    Other tools I’ll try:

  • Wiggio 10 participants, dial in only via long-distance #. Good ongoing collaboration tool, as it calendars dates, has a chat and a message function, and allows file upload and management. No cost (September 2009)
  • Jing is a lot more hip–it’s more into instant sharing, and you can also record a training on your computer via screen shots, e.g. going through a PowerPoint. It’s currently free and the site says it plays well with other upgrade plug-ins.
  • Vyew has options for both phone and VoIP audio, and lots of control feature like hand-raising and polling.
  • Plus–I’ve heard these are worth investigating: dimdim, vimeo, moodle, yugma, audacity, google moderator, and glance…
  • Idealware covers some of the web conferencing tools out there. Today, many are full-featured enough to fulfill needs for online meetings. So, if you’re holding meetings rather than conducting trainings online, check out some of the free online conferencing tools–they may just meet your needs and are overlooked when you think about webinars and online training.

    Lastly, TechSoup is the best resource for any kind of tech comparison or reference for non-profits seeking software solutions–and they recently held a webinar on producing webinars. Listen to the recording and find lots of helpful ‘how-to’ info here.

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    Free Knowledge

    Well, yes, free knowledge IS what the Internet brings us, but here are some free online learning opportunities:

  • MIT OpenCourseWare publishes all of their course materials. For free. Special section for high school instruction and subject index available.
  • iTunes U offers If you’re an iTunes user, you’ve probably seen the mortarboard icon that links to free iTunesU content online.
  • although the search feature wasn’t immediately apparent to me–still trying to figure this out as a non-avid iTunes user.

  • WorldLectureProject indexs video of mostly professors’ lectures atworld lecture project; among the other CreativeCommons learning resources is the searchable index of
  • DiscoverEd–showing an example of curriculum and teaching resources tagged with poverty, although I found this site to not be limited to adult learning.
  • GOOD Magazine recently ran a list of sources for free class materials including ccLearn’s index, and WildApricot publishes a monthly list of non-profit webinars.

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    Leaf Peeping

    The Internet allows us a glimpse at an ever-expanding world, and as Michael Pollan precociously noted in his 2002 Botany of Desire, might actually be a viable industry some day :-). Its pervasiveness into our everyday lives makes a good ol’ fashioned glimpse out the window seem like a whole new revelation.

    In my case, that glimpse recently took the form of a mother-daughter trip to Maine–not just the coast and the spectrum of fall leaves, but some of the urban areas worn down by the passing of the mills (both lumber and woolen) and the North Woods of Thoreau and hardiness.

    MaineHLB195

    The Internet now affords us the chance to collaborate, to collectively plan by sharing documents via software, email, and ‘track changes’ features. I recently installed Microsoft’s Office Live and will be giving that a go as an alternative to file sharing sites. Turning to spreadsheets as a way to create and share a schedule is recognizing their ability categorize data–and a step gingerly taken by those who now have the familiarity of word processing fully integrated to their work at the computer.

    To plan a weeklong trip, my mom and I first shared just such a spreadsheet–with dates, times, reservations, weblinks and ideas–trading latest updates via email. In our Web 2.5 world, of course, there’s always a clever tool lurking around the corner. Wanting to update the proposed schedule at odd hours and not knowing if there were any updates from my travel buddy, select activities from a list of choices, and see how far we could journey each day–not to mention the growing file of car, hotel and plane reservations–created a need for something more current than a document emailed back and forth. Information overload began to take hold, just s it does for any business trip or conference. Enter:

    A site I’d used before, TripIt, proved immensely valuable in collaborative travel planning. By using TripIt’s online, interactive itenerary planning, the current version was always in play. With both my mom and I signed up as travelers, each could edit the itenerary with suggested activities, weather reports, travel directions, key phone numbers, and our reservations–including links to interactive maps, attractions’ websites and online check-in.

    And, in a miracle of modern technology, once you’ve booked reservations, you simply email them to your TripIt account whwere they are posted to your trip’s website; a long list of compatible reservations systems include airlines, Evite, StubHub, HI Hostels, hotels, Expedia, OpenTable, Amtrak, car rentals, SuperShuttle, and AAA as well as specific travel agency and online booking sites. I found it useful to block out driving times, hold hotel reservations and directions, and insert notes about activities such as the days and hours of museums, as well as links to restaurants for later booking dinner reservations. As the trip approached, I was able to all at once print out the maps and directions I’d previously stored online, as well as a copy of the final itenerary.

    Using TripIt proved to be a paperless way to manage the number of reservations involved in long-distance travel and to share the details of my travel with others. A friend who travels frequently for work uses TripIt to share her exact flight plans with her spouse. An office where one person makes travel arrangements for others could make clever use of TripIt for holding reservations, receipts, and iteneraries. I can see its usefulness for non-profit travel to meetings and conferences–anyone using this in a business situation who can comment to its effectiveness?

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