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4. A collaborative consultant with skills in:
(a) Effective communication

4a1 Leadership Technology Task Force - preparing and communicating instructional material

Development Plan Portfolio Documentation
Work with the Leadership Technology Task Force to determine technology needs of leadership participants, and prepare and communicate instructional material. Document projects developed as part of the Leadership Technology Task Force.  Describe processes used to foster participation by Task Force members, determine technology requirements, develop materials, and communicate them.

Shortly after I joined the program in 1998, Leadership Faculty suggested to me that in my role as Chief Information Officer for Andrews University, I could use my background, skills, and position to foster better use of technology by leadership participants. It seemed logical to start such a process, with the first two steps being to gather a team and to determine the needs of current participants.

  1. Building the Team

  2. Determining Needs

  3. Influencing Technology Decisions

  4. Developing and Communicating Materials

1. Building the Team

During the presentation on the Ultimate Bulletin Board at the 1998 Roundtable conference, participants were asked if they would be willing to serve on Technology Task Force. A good number of hands went up, and on July 26, 1998, I emailed LeadAll reminding everyone about this, and asking for volunteers to join the Technology Task Force. I have created and Email Log of the correspondence that was exchanged as we put this together. Here is the team we assembled:

Chad Barrett TX
Larry Blackmer MI
Richard Carey IL
Midge Dunzweiler TN
Marilyn Eggers CA
Joe Follette AL
Dr Shirley Freed MI
Lon Gruesbeck MD
Mickey Hay IN
David Heise MI
Ruth Pope MA
Debi Robertson MI
Karen Stockton MI

When I was putting my portfolio materials together to document this process, I was surprised to find what a good team of people actually responded to my call for volunteers to form a Task Force. Because much later, my memory of the exercise was that it had been a bit of a flop, when in actual fact, we did conduct quite a bit of good work together initially. Then I suspect we all got busy with other things, myself included, and the teamwork fell away. With the advent of WebCT later on, a more long lasting team was assembled from the WebCT Administrators that were appointed from each Regional Group, and they continue to play a valuable technology role in their groups.

2. Determining Needs

The first exercise of the new Technology Task Force was to collaborate together in defining our scope or charter, and determining what our needs were. See Sunday, July 26, 1998 12:49 PM and Tuesday, September 22, 1998 5:30 PM and following for discussions about mission, charter, scope and purpose.

On Monday, July 27, 1998 11:12 PM (message 17), I sent a draft of a survey I had prepared to the Leadership Technology Task Force, and received good feedback from the group. The purpose of the survey was to discover what software packages and versions were being used by participants, and the level of proficiency in the packages. The following items were included in the survey:

Word processor
Email reader
Web authoring
News Reader
Internet meeting
Internet phone
Video conferencing
File Compression
Other Technologies
Other tips, tools, techniques, templates

I received 33 responses to the survey. They show that a wide variety of email readers is being used, and that word processors are split mainly between Word and WordPerfect.

After the survey was over, I realized I had not asked about three other important packages:

Bibliographic software

Unfortunately, I did not follow up on the survey. In fact, I became rather discouraged about what we had attempted to start, partly because I had anticipated a much higher level of interest in making better use of technology, and partly because of a sense that the survey itself was too bewildering to many of the LeadAll recipients. (See also where I have written this up in Competency 1(c) and Competency 6(e))

3. Influencing Technology Decisions

I was actively involved in the search for a "bulletin board" application, and in the first Roundtable I ever attended (1998), I gave a presentation on the use of the Ultimate Bulletin Board. This product had been researched and chosen by others, and was the best of the affordable products there were available at the time. One significant drawback, in my view, was that all messages appeared chronologically, rather than "threaded" according to discussion topic. The product was really doomed from the beginning.

The purpose of the bulletin board software was to provide an alternate venue for discussion and debate in place of the LeadAll listserv. As the program membership grew in size, the topic of what is appropriate to send to the list became increasingly more insistent. At the same time, the Andrews University Academic Computing Committee was searching for a "courseware" package to adopt for enhancing teaching and learning through the use of technology. The committee chose WebCT, and I saw this as an opportunity to move the general discussion and sharing of email stories from the LeadAll listserv to a LeadAll WebCT. We had set up a WebCT for each Regional Group, and had appointed one member from each group to be the WebCT administrator for the group. I wrote up instructional guidelines for the administrators, and on Thursday, June 08, 2000 10:35 AM,I proposed the idea to them of being the moderators for the LeadAll listserv. The messages following indicate support for this idea.

This is also written up in Competency 1(c), with another email log showing the discussion that followed its implementation after the 2000 Roundtable Conference.

4. Developing and Communicating Materials

I made presentations on two occasions at Roundtable Conferences (1998, 2000) about the use of a bulletin board for general purpose discussion, and the need to reserve the LeadAll listserv for announcements and notices of importance to all participants. I have included portions of the extensive email correspondence that has been conducted for assembling the team, developing and carrying out a technology survey, and for discussing the pros and cons of a moderated LeadAll listserv. I have responded with technical support to individual requests for help, and have developed and documented a Leadership Tracking System with a Microsoft Access interface for the Leadership office, and a web interface for participants. At the 2001 Roundtable conference, I gave a presentation on building a portfolio on the web called "Virtual Banana Boxes". On the Research Support page of the Leadership web site, I have added a number of links to pages explaining computer terminology and jargon.

I would not call my attempts at building an effective Technology Task Force outstandingly successful, although we have achieved some of the objectives that we initially set for ourselves.

Return to 4(a) Effective communication

Created: Tuesday, February 05, 2002 09:37 PM
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 11:27 AM