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On the home straight …

So, we are nearly at the end of the course. Looking back I’m surprised about how much we have actually done within the past eight weeks - it didn’t feel like a lot!

Although we have discussed various interesting topics throughout the course I think Crowdsourcing and -funding are the most important ones for our NGO. We defined their problem to be not having enough volunteers and donors to guarantee a prosperous future for the organization. This is exactly where crowdfunding and -sourcing comes in. Through these techniques one is able to reach out to new people and actually get them involved by asking their advice. I was surprised how generous people are with their time and ideas! So this supports the improvement of two issues simultaniously: spreading the word about the organization, because at the moment the biggest problem is that simply not enough people know about PAGE, and picking up new ideas that can help when one is stuck with a specific problem.

Of course for this to work there are some criteria that need to be fulfilled. Most important is the presentation of the organization online. This as well is one problem we figured PAGE could use some help with. Truth is, the first impression counts. If your first impression on someone isn’t pleasant, it requires a lot of time and hard work to change his mind about you. That is why PAGE needs to improve their website and general visual appearance on the internet. Once this is done and the ‘new look’ is appealing to people, crowdsourcing and -funding will be great opportunities to gain more volunteers, donors or in general supporters.

Another thing I think would be really important for PAGE to do is to partner with other (larger) organizations that share the same values or similar goals. We found the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (www.wagggs.org) as one example of a possible future partner.

All in all there is a lot to do, but I am optimistic that some little changes will make a big difference in the future. As for me, I learned a lot during this course, especially to keep an open mind when it comes to technology and online networking. It actually is useful in various situations and I will try to make use of it more in the future.

I’ll leave you on that note and I wish all the groups good luck with their presentations and recommendations!

Cheers, Allie

Posted in Community, Group 7, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Allie vs Alex

It’s not all that bad!

We’ve reached the final part of our project, so it’s time for a little recap. Starting out, my knowledge about online networks was, let’s say, not the best and I found the whole thing being a bit odd.

During the course we’ve learned about a lot of different techniques to use online networks in order to reach your goals. For example, asking people for their opinion by creating a survey and then using all your networks (facebook, twitter, etc.) to spread the word. Or just in general if you want people to know about something, put it in a group, post it online and it will reach at least some of them.

Especially last week when we talked about crowdfunding and -sourcing, I discovered how online communities work. Still, I am sceptical (I said this before) because I don’t want people to have a say on what I’m doing. I guess my design principles would be to listen to my customers needs in order to fulfill their wishes about the design they want me to do, but still make it ‘my’ design. I don’t know if that makes sense.

When we were trying to find the best way to help our customer in this project, it took a while to figure out thier actual needs and, most importantly, their capacities. There are a million of good solutions out there for your problem, but you have to be able to realize them as well. So we had to narrow down our suggestions to the ones that were actually realistic for PAGE to put in place.

I think the course got me a bit out of my comfort zone as I’m an ‘offline person’ as I like to call it. I prefer direct contact and don’t feel comfortable to put my thoughts and ideas ‘out there’ for everyone to read and judge (again, I wrote about this in an earlier blog). However, these last two weeks showed me that sometimes it’s not that bad to persue your goal by using online communities. For me personally especially crowdfunding was a big myth before this, so I’d be happy to learn more about that, although it’s not necessarily my priority to do so.

Posted in Community, Group 7, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Allie vs Alex

The crowd is always right …?

This weeks topic is crowdfunding and -sourcing and I have to say I’m divided on this. We talked a lot about it in class and I’m sure there are some really good arguments for using it, but I just don’t feel like I would like it personally.

I think for me as a designer I wouldn’t want other people to have a say on what I’m doing. Of course, if one is stuck it might be great to be able to ask a larger crowd for their opinion. And I’m aware of that if we want to design something and sell it successfully we have to listen to our costumers needs. But all in all, the amount of projects which don’t get funded is overwhelming in comparison to the ones that do. I know statistics are not everything, but they put me off.

When I’m thinking about PAGE I’m not sure if crowdfunding is a good idea for them either. If they wanted to get recognised they would need a fundraising website that is related to what they do. There is www.catapult.org that would fit this criteria perfectly. But as well as with the ‘normal’ donations through their website, PAGE would need a follow up for donors, so they can track what happened to their money and will be more likely to give some in the first place.

As for crowdsourcing… In some way I think it would really help to put some ideas out there and to get people’s opinion on them in order to solve some related problems, on the other hand I’m not sure if it wouldn’t be a bit too much to handle all these different suggestions. It would definately need a lot of time to evaluate and decide which are useful and which are not. For now, for us and for PAGE, doing a survey to get an idea of what people think, in my opinion, is the best way to go about it.

I don’t know if I came to the point here, to be honest I’m still a bit confused what exactly  this is all about. I’ll figure it out though.

Posted in Community, Group 7, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Allie vs Alex

The more the merrier! … Really??

Hi there!

Talking about work groups everyone has their own preferences regarding size and organization. This week we learned about the results of studies upon this topic, which showed that for example the well known statement ‘the more the merrier’ is actually wrong when it comes to generate ideas and facilitate creativity. Actually, groups of one tend to be best for the creative aspect of group work, as long as the result are being shared with the larger group of course. I noticed this myself, just did I think until now I was just being kind of selfish or not a good team player if I enjoyed working on my own sometimes.

Also, in groups of five or more people one starts losing the benefit of diversity (regarding idea generation) because it’s simply too many people. I can relate to this as well. We are a group of six for this project and when we are all together and try to brainstorm it doesn’t really work out because we’re not really able to focus on one topic and it’s just too many ideas at the same time.

image

source:http://thumb9.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/598477/598477,1326021756,6/stock-vector-business-meeting-discussion-brainstorm-workplace-office-situation-scenario-pictogram-concept-92223643.jpg

Thinking about what is working well in our group, I think once we had figured out how to be most efficient we used this strategy to work quickly and good. So for the moment we do have a clear plan and structure of what we’ve done so far and what results we found up until now as well as a to do list of what needs to be done next.

As well as this works, there are some things that I find challenging. First would be how to make sure everyone feels part of the group and is involved in the process. In my opinion one can just do so much to motivate other members of the group but everyone has to contribute their own part. This lets me think of the ‘Rules of communication’ we talked about in Cultural Differences. One of our responsibilities for good group work is to actively participate in the process even though we might not feel like we can contribute much. Showing interest in what others do gives fellow group members a feeling of being appricated and will improve the atmosphere within the group!

Also challenging for me is the cultural differences, or maybe better different kinds of characters, within the group. As for my part I need to have everything planned and organized. That might seem ‘very german’ but it doesn’t mean that I want to control everything that is going on. Like I figured out in the first weeks of the personal branding classes (when we talked about our gifts, passions and purposes in order to find our sweet spot), I tend to be the ‘mummy’ of a group. Maybe it comes across as patronising sometimes, but it is definately not meant this way.

Well, this again, is more of an issue we or I had and I think we talked about these things in our meetings so that we can understand each others reactions and intentions better.

So as a conclusion I would say we have to keep an eye on ourself staying open-minded and continue to deligate tasks referring to our individual talents and preferences.

So much for now. Stay tuned!

Posted in Community, Group 7, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Allie vs Alex

Using our networks

So,

while reading other blogs I realized that at least within the groups working with PAGE we have a great amount of similar ideas. We definately need to work together in this so we don’t waste time on doing the same things twice.

As for my group, we have accomplished our goal for this week. We devided tasks according to our individual preferences and updated our NGO on any progress we made. Unfortunately they didn’t reply yet. As soon as we get permission to do so, each member of our group will use their individual networks (facebook, twitter, etc.) to spread the word about PAGE and ask people to donate online. In addidtion to that Laura has created an online survey we will share on these networks as well, to find out about people’s opinion on the website of PAGE and what they think could be improved.

source: http://blog.bufferapp.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/social-networks.png

I learned that it is really easy (and for free!) to create a survey online. I definately have to keep that in mind, I think it offers great opportunities if one wants to gather opinions of a large number of people on a specific topic.

source: https://secure.surveymonkey.com/smassets/anonweb/12.5.12-anonweb-0125/assets/brandassets/logo_stacked.png

So much for our plans. I’ll also try to arrange another hangout with our NGO to share and discuss the results of our survey and donating trial.

Stay tuned!

Posted in Community, Group 7, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Allie vs Alex

source:…



source: http://simplyfaithful.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/key-organization.jpg

Posted in Community, Group 7, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Allie vs Alex

Organization is key

Hi there!

Remember how last week I thought we were well organized? Turned out we weren’t. While in class yesterday each team had to present what they were working on up to then. That’s when we realized our team had and still has a lot off very interesting ideas, for example to create a comment section on the website of PAGE so people can share their opinion freely, but we failed to write them down and to organize them properly. So that’s what we’ve done for now. Everyone in the team has a clear task to do and we’ll share our results in our facebook group, so everyone is up to date with what the others are doing. As for me, I’m the communicator of my group which means I have to get in touch with our NGO and any others we ask for thoughts and comments as well as keeping an eye on time management and what everyone else is doing.

One thing we talked about during our hangout with Nancy earlier this week was to set up a local wiki for PAGE. Although the organization is active for four years now, it is not very well known, even locally. Nancy gave us some contacts of people already working in that area, who were kind enough to listen to our ideas and share their thoughts. One advise stayed on my mind in particular: Ed Vielmetti, who is working with local wikis, said: “The challenge or opportunity for doing project work inside Localwiki is that it is always best to work inside some existing framework where there is some other group also using Localwiki for the same geographic area, so that you can start to map out relationships in an area.”

It kind of opened our eyes that we didn’t have to set up everything new. There is a local wiki (you can check it out here -> localwiki.org) already, we just have to use it. Same applies for forums or comment sections we want to set up for PAGE. We don’t need to create a whole new website, we just need to think about how to use the exsisting online network and maybe add some little things to improve it. So instead of setting up a new forum we thought about linking the existing facebook page of PAGE to their website.

Their website itself might need some work though. While trying to find partner NGO’s for PAGE who persue the same or a similar goal to start up new relationships, I came across the website of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. What immediately came to my mind is how much more lively their website seemed to be, for example just because they added a comment section (-> www.wagggs.org).

So much for our group work for now.

The theme of this week was Online Social Structures. There is the ME, the WE and the MANY within this structures. The ME in this case stands for the Individual. This is about my personal networking, for example mails or texts. The WE stands for the Community, so for group identities, memberships and shared interests, whereas the MANY represents the wider network around us.

I would say I primarily use direct communication one to one or within a small group (roughly up to five people). Therefore EMails and Whatsapp are most important for my communication. If I need to contact a larger group of people I use facebook, as it seems to be the easiest way to get in touch. Wider networks like twitter, instagram, wikipedia, etc. I only use for doing research or ‘browsing’ information rather than actively participating. Also I noticed that I tend to hide my personal information when it comes to wider networks. I guess it is linear to my feelings in the real world: When I feel comfortable, for example in a (small!) group of friends, communication is easy for me. As soon as there are bigger groups of people involved I get nervous and tend to put up my guard. That might also be a reason why I find writing these blogs so difficult.

However, I do learn every week and I think that everyone can grow and improve within the group if we keep a positive atmosphere and support each other. I’m excited for what is coming.

Stay tuned!

Posted in Community, Group 7, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Allie vs Alex

Project Communities week 2

Now that’s a start!

Last week I was really unsure how things would plan out. Everything was new and kind of scary to be honest. But as so often it turned out we just needed to get started and then learn as we would move on!

So, what I think was the most important thing for us as a group was actually talking to Liz (our partner in the NGO). She was so kind to do a google hangout with all of us, so we had the opportunity to ask her a million questions about the purpose of the NGO, her hopes and dreams for the future and so on. Looking back it went really well, as we had made some mind maps of what we wanted to talk about in advance.

Using all the information we had from our conversation with Liz, it was relatively easy to define our goals during the class yesterday. We decided our goals for this project should be to

1. find a way of reliable funding, and

2. find ways to get more people involved with PAGE (as volunteers).

I’m personally really happy with these goals. Furthermore, I think our group has done a really good job of laying the basis for a good organization, so that I’m really looking forward to working together in the future.

Another very interesting thing I’ve learned this week is how to create and use a spidergram. It helped a lot to identify what areas we think are the most important to work on. Here’s a picture of the spidergram of our group:

Apart from all this very positive experiences, I’ve also come across a topic which makes me feel quite uneasy: technologies. It may sound ridiculous but I have no idea how to (resourcefully) use technologies to help achieving our set goals. The conversation with Liz for example was my first google hangout ever. Apart from the usual mail, facebook and whatsapp my knowledge of technologies is very limited. I prefer meeting people in person (I know it’s not always possible) and writing things down on a sheet of paper. I guess I have a lot of work to do here, but I understood my teammates are quite good at these kind of things, so I hope I’ll have some Technology Stewards I can ask for help.

For now, it is all about doing research and brainstorming ideas. From what I’ve already seen, we’ll have some great things to talk about next week. I’m looking forward to it.

Stay tuned!

Posted in Community, Group 7, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Allie vs Alex

Project communities week 1

So this is blogging. I have never blogged before and to be honest with you I’m not quite sure what to write about. I guess I should start by introducing myself: I’m Allie, although half of my friends call me Alex, I’m twenty years young and I just started studying.

At University we have this class called ‘project communities’. Basically we get to work with a NGO (in my case PAGE -> www.carolinapage.org) and will try to offer solutions to a challenge they set us. I don’t really know what to expect from this as I have never done anything like it before.

However, everyone is talking about online communities and how useful they are. I think it is true, because everyone is connected on the internet these days, and just think about the countless ‘challenges’ that spread all over social media sites to collect money for different charities (one example: the Ice bucket challenge. You can look it up here -> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_Bucket_Challenge). Personally I haven’t (conciously) used online communities to achieve a certain goal yet. But I’m looking forward to the experience.

I guess before we can get started properly we need to learn more about the people we will be working with. It will be interesting to learn about their motivation and their hopes for the future. It would be great if we could actually change, or better, improve something with our work.

Stay tuned!

Posted in Community, Group 7, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Allie vs Alex