Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Hey, our local network is done!
12 laptops, 7 PCs and 7 Macs are ready to serve our students and volunteers. All together we have 26 computers. It is not quite like one student suggested during the election campaign for the 2008 Cabrini Connections Youth Leadership Council – one laptop on each table (40 laptops)…but almost. And the server is now running perfectly and silently.
Now our task/challenge is to utilize that technology. Numerous things have been done to try to increase it’s usage now we have to follow through.
What has been done? At this moment we have online community environment that, inside one Moodle course, include:
• A private forum, wiki and chat function for each student and mentor pair
• A forum, wiki and chatroom for all students
• A forum, wiki and chatroom for all mentors
• A forum, wiki and chatroom for all parents.
• Forms each student has to fill at the beginning and at the end of each session to track their goals and activities with their mentors. Only mentor of particular student can see the results of these forms.
• Forms each mentor has to fill after each session
• Blogs, wikis
• Career dictionary – a learning activity wherein each student has to input at least one term. Additionally, they can grade and comment on other students inputs
• Planning forum. Question and Answer forum – where each student-mentor couple should present their plan for coming year. However, they can not see other students answers unless they have already posted their own plan. Furthermore, each student and mentor can grade (list of 10 comments) each plan.
I think that is quite a lot. Now, our task is to use it and to improve it.
What are your thoughts abut it?
Monday, December 15, 2008
No, no, I am not talking about music, I am talking about the feeling that I can make a change, you can make a change, your friend can make a change… Some of us can make smaller and some can make bigger changes, but together we can change the world. Nice feeling, right?
Yes, yes, it is pure Rock ’N’ Roll. OK, some younger people call it different things: Hip-Hop, Rap, Blues, Heavy Metal, Punk-Rock, some of us will even call it Country or Electronic Music. It does not matter what you call it. It does not matter which kind of music you prefer. If you can feel that big chuck of enthusiasm, the feeling that together we can: that is it!
And that is what happened on Friday (12/12/08) in Schubas Tavern. 4 different bands, came and played different types of music, but they all had the same quality, the same good feeling.
Those bands were:
- East Side Ramblers (they call it Jazz),
- Black Collar (they call it Hip-Hop)
- Trakan (they call it Power Indie Folk)
- The Howling Poppies (they call it - you know Rock 'n' Roll)
Video presentation is below and pictures from the concert are >> here.
Check it. See how good it was. Will you come to the next concert? It is great way to have fun and do a good thing (support Cabrini Connections). Right?
Of course, if you for any reason can not come, but you want to/can support our program you are welcome to donate at: www.cabriniconnections.net/donate/.
Energy... was all around.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Productive and progressive. Cabrini Connection was one of the most productive and progressive organizations, – constantly producing new web content and trying new technologies. Cabrini Connections even made an official technology strategy at the beginning of this century while almost half of American and the vast majority of the World’s universities lacked such a document.
Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.Planning & Plans. Plans, especially technology plans are like a living being – they are as good as the amount of time and effort we invest in development and application.
Dwight David Eisenhower
- Cabrini Connections’ path to success
So, let’s say a few words about our Web sites. Sustainable web site development has become a big challenge.
Quantity. Cabrini Connections /Tutor/Mentor Connection have 7 web sites. Those are:
- Cabrini T/MC Golf >> www.cabrinitmcgolf.org
Tutor/mentor Conference >> www.tutormentorconference.org Tutor/mentor program locator >> www.tutormentorprogramlocator.net Tutor/mentor connection >> www.tutormentorconnection.org Tutor/mentor connection @ ning.com >> http://tutormentorconnection.ning.com Cabrini Connections >> www.cabriniconnections.net
Google. Well… they did not do that. Probably because they do not have enough time, money and human resources to produce so many sites. Google.com is enough. If there is a big project/service as Google Maps, they simply create a short subdomain like maps.google.com
So, what happened at Cabrini Connections? Do we have time, money and human resources for this many sites? We have to develop them, we have to brand them, we have to maintain technology, pay for servers… but do we get the results that match the investment (Return Of Investment: ROI)?
Strategy. Let’s have a look how is it explained in Technology strategy. On page List of web sites and purpose is stated:
We work from many different web sites because:
they serve different purposes and/or they were created by different volunteers at different times.
Is that valid statement?
All those sites actually support the same mission/purpose and that is:
Supporting structured activities that make a life-changing difference for youth living in economically and educationally disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Strategy, mission and cost. There are minor differences in the particular strategies each site uses to support the aforementioned activities, but there is no doubt that they support the same mission (they serve same purpose). Furthermore, those differences are much, much smaller than the price we have to pay for the development, maintenance and branding of 7 different sites.
Reason two suggest that we have numerous web sites because they were created by different volunteers at different times.
What about that statement?
Knowledge then and now. 6-7 years ago, I would say ‘Yes’ that is a good reason. Why? Because at that time I did not know much about multiple FTP accounts and services as blogger.com or ning.com did not provide CNAME service; I did not know much about online collaboration. But today I know that there is no reason why 100, 1000, or more, like with Google.com’s website, users can not work together on one web site. All you need to know is how to create a folder or subdomain with separate FTP account and in no time you can have numerous individuals/groups working on a site or collaborating through the same site – everybody just in his own area or everybody together. So… today the answer is no: there is no reason why numerous authors cannot share the same domain.
To summarize, those statements are not valid anymore.
Statistic. Recently I conducted a small research study: 10 random students and 10 random volunteers were asked how many web sites we have? None of them know the right number.
The greatest danger for the new venture is to “know better’ than the customer what the product or service is or should to be, how it should be bought, and what it should be used for. Peter DruckerSWOT analysis
SWOT Analysis is a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project. It involves specifying the objective of the project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieving that objective. So, let’s make SWOT analysis for ‘7 web site web development plan’ and compare it with ‘1-2 web site web development strategy’.
SWOT analysis for 7 website web development strategy
Helpful to achieving the objective
- Keeping Status Quo
- Time consuming
- Fragmentized web
- Expensive web development (different technologies, different websites…)
- Impossible branding
- Collaboration between users/sites is very limited
- Misleading: 7 web sites can give impression that we are doing a good job. Unfortunately, that is very misleading conclusion. It is not important how much web sites we have, it is important how effective they are. Threats
Helpful to achieving the objective
- Easier development
- One technology
- Numerous users working together without technological problems
- Strong, recognizable web site
- Faster development
- Becoming real Mentoring Web Portal
- Change – reorganizing web site is responsable and time consuming task Weakness Threats
- Losing data
- Inproper redirection
Management is the specific and distinguishing organ of any and all organizations. Peter DruckerStatus Quo. One way to plan development is keep it as it is – keep the Status Quo. In short term this is much easier solution; not much work, not much responsibility. But if we think about progress, cost, mission and results, then that is not an option. Maintaining 7 web sites is a full time job for a big team.
Management. Another possibility is making changes in direction of:
Unifying technology. We should use trusted technologies that fulfill all our needs and are supported by numerous users. That technology should be easy to use, easy to maintain and if it is possible – it should be free (open source). Fortunately numerous open source solutions, that are extremely powerful, easy to use, supported by millions of users and… are ‘designed for us’ are available. For example combination Joomla Content Management System (CMS) and Moodle Learning Management System can serve all our needs.
Planned and gradual process.
University ChicagoLand Example. I will explain how it works on one classical example. In our example we will use ‘University ChicagoLand’. This is one fictional university situated at 7 locations in the Chicagoland Area. Some of the campuses are situated more than 50 miles apart. so students and staff have to spend a few hours a day in traffic just to travel from one part of the University to another and some student have to skip classes because it is imposable to arrive on time. Furthermore, the University is paying 7 gatekeepers, maintaining 7 different buildings, 7 independent computer networks… Fortunately, after research the University management decided to change 7 distant locations for one where everything is on one place.
However, numerous partners and alumni have the old university addresses. But, that is not a problem. Simply all mails that come to the old addresses will be forwarded to a new location. So, as a result we will have better working environment, it is cheaper to maintain, and without travel problems… students and staff can focus 100% on education.
It works the same way in the digital environment. It is cheaper, easier to maintain, easier to develop and achieve results if we have just one web site.
Branding. A branding of 7 web sites is mission impossible. But a branding 1 or 2 web sites is something we can do.
Partnership. Since sharing the data/results we have costs little or nothing, and there are obvious benefits like improved results, better quality control, sharing costs, partnership is the way to go.