The title of this Innovate! workshop sounded interesting, as I consider myself a digital evangelist and look to demonstrate the effectiveness of digital mobile technology. The workshop was facilitated by Kimberly Lightle and Jessica Fries-Gaither, both from the College of Education & Human Ecology (EHE) at Ohio State.
Kimberly and Jessica detailed how they use digital tools to get information about funded learning initiatives to stakeholders and other interested parties. I was intrigued by their account of all of the ways they sought to share the information with program partners and participants. In my opinion, no one will visit a static site, particularly if you only rely on sending emails to update everyone. Instead, as Jessica and Kimberly suggested, you should map out your network or “sphere of influence,” and design a strategy for keeping these groups engaged, using different strategies for different groups. To help with workshop attendees’ future map and design work, the presenters shared a nifty network map template. In one of the workshop’s two reflective sessions, attendees filled out the network map to illustrate our circle of influence.
As another part of their workshop, the presenters demonstrated a pretty cool tool called “Wallwisher.” Wallwisher allows followers of your site to participate in a collaborative conversation by posting “notes” to a virtual wall in real time.
Jessica and Kimberly stressed the need to engage your stakeholders and make them an active part of your site. They also emphasized the importance of providing stakeholders with opportunities to engage and work with each other–or as they more eloquently stated, “Build an Architecture of Participation”. One insight they offered was to “Follow your Food.” This concept involves extensive use of “Follow me on…” features that can be built into your own site and on your partner sites as well. Using a large number of reciprocal arrangements can further help drive traffic to your site.
I appreciated the facilitators’ candor as they recounted examples of how difficult it can be to achieve success with social media as a dissemination tool. Although there are multiple avenues and outlets to reach users, you have to pick the tool that best serves the purpose. To further illustrate the reality of how many different ways we can digitally communicate with one another, Kimberly and Jessica posted a sheet that listed a variety of ways you can tell the world you are eating a donut.
Toward the end of the workshop, the facilitators provided a second reflective session. Here, attendees were asked to identify tools we could use to reach different types of partners, participants, or stakeholders.
Some other takeaways from the presentation:
• “Build it and they will come” doesn’t work: you have to actively market and drive users to your site.
• Design with collaboration in mind: the more others can actively engage and participate, the more relevance your site has.
• There are more than just hammers at the hardware store: there are lots of different tools available. Try out as many as you can, sort through them, and use the best one for you.
• Don’t do anything once: it will take multiple attempts to get it right.