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Weekly News Brief: Program Evaluation, Community, Collaboration

Submitted by: asalvesen on Jul 27th, 2010 at 8PM PDT

•     "6 Powerful Tips for Philanthropy Leaders" 
        Author:  Stanford Innovation Social Review                                                                    
        Date:  Spring 2010
        Source:  Stanford Innovation Social Review
This article provides a brief summary  of each of the six tips and includes links to other articles in the Stanford Social Innovation Review for a more in-depth examination.  Examples of topics covered include being a catalyst for change and evaluating programs to create long-term strategies. 

•      "Rhizomatic Education:  Community as Curriculum"
        Author:  Dave Cormier
        Date:  June/July 2008 (original publication date)
        Source:  Open Habitat
Cormier explores the nature of learning in the online world in the context of knowledge and the traditional methods for its validation. Building upon the concept of knowledge as negotiation, held by social constructivist and connectivist pedagogies, Cormier proposes a new model of knowledge acquisition for “socially constructed, negotiated knowledge” as an alternative to the traditional expert-driven model of learning.  In this new model, the rhizomatic model of learning, the community of collaborators becomes the curriculum; the community -  and not an expert or constructed curriculum - holds the power to create and validate knowledge and to connect that knowledge to the  larger network.  

•    “The Hard Work of Measuring Social Impact"
        Author:  Julia Hanna                                                                                                       
        Date:  June 14, 2010
        Source:  Harvard Business School Working Knowledge

Julia Hanna discusses the work of HBS associate professor Alnoor Ebrahim  on accountability and the measurement of social performance.   Professor Ebrahim  identifies two key factors which simplify the process of performance assessment:   a linear, clearly-understood theory of change and a tightly-focused operational strategy ; additionally he advises organizations to develop their own internal benchmarks.  Despite his belief in the importance of social impact measurement, however, Professor Ebrahim believes that, especially in an environment such as policy-based or human rights-based work, “where collaboration may matter more than acting alone,” it is “more important “ for organizations  “to have learning systems in place, for adapting to complex contexts, than it is for them to seek conclusive proof of impact."

•    “Carol’s Collaboration Experiment"
        Author: Carol Rozwell                                                                                              
        Date:  July 7, 2010
        Source:  Mashable

Carol Rozwell uses a personal, highly-successful experience with crowdsourcing as a way to examine the willingness of people to collaborate.  Her experience involved sending an email to a carefully-selected group of communities of practice, asking for one suggestion regarding the creation of a collaborative workplace.  When one third of the email’s recipients responded, many of them writing elaborate responses, Rozwell decided to try to identify the factors that led to the success.  She identified the following factors: directness and short length of the request, the ease of response, the ongoing nature of the relationship and the fact that the topic was one about which the recipients deeply cared.  

•    ““How the Twittersphere Helped Keep Oakland Safe During Riots"
        Author:  Poornima Weerasekara                                                                                          
        Date:  July 12, 2010
        Source:   New America Media

In response to the verdict for the highly controversial case of the death of Oscar Grant, an unarmed, black 22-year old shot and killed by a member of the BART police, rioting was expected in the city of Oakland.  One resident, George Chamales, harnessed the power of Twitter  to help keep the community informed and safe, by providing reliable, real-time updates.   Chamales, working in collaboration with his girlfriend, used a combination of tools including Tweetdeck, a tool for monitoring activity on Twitter, an online streaming of a police radio signal and an open-source platform, Ushahidi, which provides reliable, up-to-the-minute information during times of crisis.

•    “Being a Network"
        Author:  David Hodgson
        Date:  July 19, 2010
        Source:  Mashable

Based on the book, Living Networks by Ross Dawson, the author examines “how thinking like a network really helps an organization to be more effective. “  The issue addressed  by this article is the fact that due to the richness of information found in most networks, important messages are often drowned out by high levels of “noise.”  To address this issue, the author outlines three activities an organization can perform to overcome network noise.