Communication Tools for a Small Community Organization

Recently we (at CTLT) have been talking quite a bit about portfolios as tools for leaders and learning (as opposed to showcase) portfolios as vehicles to make learning visible. I’m part of a team working on a white paper for IT managers on the futures for Learning Management Systems. We agreed to work that process in public with the hopes of gathering more input. (Slow going so far)

I’m also involved with Palouse Prairie School of Expeditionary Learning and its communication needs are really the focus of this post.

We have several needs:
Ready communication by email with an audience. We have struggled to maintain lists of supporters, have ended up with multiple lists, have had lists go stale, have undoubtedly had people who wanted on the list get lost because getting them on was not simple.

We have also struggled with documents. Managing the most current version of a document, keeping up files of minutes and agendas, too much email tag.

Public facing web site. Something simple to maintain, fresh, with access to the resources that might be wanted. Something that can be the ready answer to how do I…

Calendars of Board meetings and other activities. This is pretty sparse.

All of which leads to email tag, phone tag, missed opportunities, missed meetings and general struggle.

Presently we have a Blogger blog for news (and open to comment), a Google Group (email in perspectives), and a website made with Google Pages, and two Google calendars (a private one for the Board, and a public one). We don’t have a place to keep working documents for collaboration, and we don’t have a public archive of our documents (given that we are attempting to launch a public entity, making the documents public seems reasonable).

What we don’t have is the perspective of having a portfolio of this project, a place to lay out our goals and our tools for assessing progress toward those goals. The Google Group allows email postings, and interested people can subscribe themselves to get emai but the UI & display is clunky. Blogger allows comments but you can’t subscribe to it as readily (unless you are RSS enabled). Google Pages does not allow distributed ownership/ editing and isn’t working too well to pull all these pieces together.

We need to unify all this into a structure that the Board, and other supports, can readily maintain and that makes a good public facing presence for the project. It seems that might be some form of project portfolio, but the platform is not clear.

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