Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Free Tools to Kickstart a Multimedia Use Classroom

This month the PNLC is partnering with Hubert Project, a repository that provides public affairs instructors, practitioners and students with a diverse range of free, multimedia teaching tools. Take a look at their resources HERE

So you’ve decided to incorporate multimedia and e-learning tools into your classroom, but where do you start? Often the first step is to figure out what information you would like to convey and what purpose the multimedia serves. Whether it’s visually representing complex information or processes, creating a short methods tutorial for your students, or simply giving your students more resources for their group work, there are a variety of resources to suit your needs.

There are so many tools available online that it can be challenging to figure out which to use. Each of the tools listed below is available online at no cost and serves a different purpose: collaboration and organization, creation of infographics, video and image capturing, and stock images.

1. Collaboration Tools — Collaboration and organization tools can help students to brainstorm and organize their work.Padlet works like a giant canvas to post images and videos, upload links and files, and add commentary. This visual organization tool puts all of your resources into one simple platform. It is ideal for groups that need to upload and share content, but can also be used by individual students and teachers to organize projects or as an alternative presentation tool.

2. Infographics — Infographics are a great way to visually represent complex concepts. They allow the creator to meaningfully illustrate data as statistics, timelines, processes, and more. The Easel.ly platform enables users to create custom infographics. Users are able to choose from thousands of design templates or create their own infographics from scratch.

3. Video and Image Capturing — Recording your computer screen can be an easy way to create tutorials and short videos for students to watch outside of class or incorporate into other e-learning formats such as e-cases. Jing by TechSmith is a tool that allows users to capture videos and images directly from their screen. When paired withScreencast, products and can be uploaded and shared on the web.

4. Stock Images — Finding engaging images is an important component of developing multimedia materials. However, searching for images online and navigating licensing requirements can be arduous. Three sites have simplified this process; Pixabay, Pexels, and Unsplash all offer free high quality stock images and videos available under the Creative Commons CC0 license.

By: Becca Beets
Rebecca Beets, Research Assistant – Becca is currently pursuing an M.S. in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy at the Humphrey School. Prior to moving to Minnesota, she spent four years working in the science-policy nexus at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her interests are in the intersections of science, policy, law, ethics and communication – with an emphasis on issues related to emerging technologies. Becca joined the Hubert Project in May 2015. She previously worked in the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center helping to plan the 2015 Public Management Research Association conference, and with the Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Intertwining Practice and Theory

"Students from the 2015 class of PA5190 in action, practicing facilitation skills to convene a challenging multi-stakeholder conversation about labeling genetically-modified produce."

I have been in various events recently where I was asked to speak or share my experience at the Humphrey School. “Which perspective would you like me to share?” I had the privilege of doing my Masters degree here, am an active alumnus, and now working as staff and adjunct instructor, thus giving me a way to experience the Humphrey School on many levels. There is usually an angle that was sought for, and I would be asked to speak from that one perspective. After one of such event recently – an information session hosted by the Admissions team – I thought to myself, “Well, what of my experience do I enjoy or find rewarding?” 

That was a difficult question. I valued my experience here as a student, and I love the interactions I am having (yay mentor program!) with current students due to my status as an alumnus. But for now, my favorite experience(s) are that as a staff person and an adjunct instructor. Both of these experiences allow me to combine practice and theory, and have them reinforce each other in a way that keeps me rejuvenated in the work I do, be it in the classroom or out engaging community partners.

My work – one I affectionately call my practice – involves a blend of human-centered design principles and the Art of Hosting methodologies. It is in the intersection of these practices that I find myself most engaged and challenged to grow and be better. Both practices share similar tenets: the practice of empathy and consideration for others, the ability to get a group to work together on knotty, difficult problems, and the nurturing of emergent ideas and solutions. Most of my work is in the human services area, one that is often riddled with complex policies, stigma and mistrust, and an increasingly jaded workforce struggling to do good by those they serve and adhering to seemingly impossible administrative hurdles. We partner closely with state agencies, counties and local service providers, and it can be dangerously easy for me to feel too much for the challenges within this field and the people in this system. The practice of self-care, or as Jodi eloquently puts it in her blog post, hosting oneself, is crucial to do good work continuously in this space.

It turns out, fascinatingly, that one of my act of self-care or hosting myself is my role as an adjunct instructor. I was invited to co-teach on the Spring 2015 PA5190 Section 01 course, Leadership to Address Global Grand Challenges, a course that provided students the opportunity to learn and practice integrative leadership and facilitation methods, all in an intensive one-week period. It was a course that I had fond memories of, having taken it the year before.

It was a humbling and exhilarating experience to find myself in a space where I had to deconstruct my practice to present them as theory to my students, to surface what had become tacit knowledge, and create ways to ensure my students got to learn them too. The questions asked by my students, the perspectives and experiences they shared with me, and the learning environment fostered by my co-instructors (I had a teaching team of six!) created a wonderful little microcosm for me to reflect on my practice. It was hard work to teach a course, but it was also my time to remind myself of why I do the work I do, and to learn from my students what they see in the practices I have taken for granted. The experience made me see my daily work as a program manager in a whole new light.

I have taught that course twice, now, and I am eagerly looking forward to the next year to do it again. In two weeks, the second-half of the Spring 2016 semester begins, and my new course PA5190 Sec 02 Human-Centered Public Service Redesign will begin. It is a new course, and will allow me to explore another area of my practice (the human-centered design aspect; my other course was more steeped in the Art of Hosting concepts). New students, a whole new experience, and an opportunity to host myself in a shared space with others.

By: Sook Jin Ong
Sook Jin (MPP '12) is the manager of a partnership between the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center and the Minnesota Department of Human Services to engage the state and counties in systems redesign, and to improve service delivery in the human services sector. Ong comes from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with prior experience in the corporate sector. She earned her bachelor’s degree in management and economics from the University of Sydney, Australia. Her current research interests and practice are in the application of human-centered design principles to public sector innovation, policy implementation practices, and leadership. She will be teaching the Spring 2016 PA5190 Sec 02 course, Human-Centered Public Service Redesign (starts March 24, 2016).

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

What the Real Deal with Nonprofit Boards?

On February 18, the PNLC launched a new lunch hour learning series called Theory to Practice (T2P). T2P takes what Humphrey students are learning in the classroom and discusses what this looks like in practice in the sector. Topics of discussion range from the public and nonprofit sectors, to leadership and management.

The series was kicked off with an in-depth and insightful conversation about nonprofit boards and governance. Two nonprofit governance experts led the discussion: Melissa Stone, Gross Family Professor of Nonprofit Management at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and Julia Classen, Principal Consultant and Co-Founder of Aurora Consulting. They spoke to the research that exists in the field and what governance looks like in practice in nonprofit organizations.

Stone and Classen kicked off the discussion by talking about board diversity and representation. In both the literature and in practice, they noted the lack of representative diversity on nonprofit boards, but noted that representativeness does not necessarily equal diversity. The movement towards inclusion in the nonprofit field also needs to be reflected on nonprofit boards. Diversity should influence a board’s behavior, decisions, and practices. If not, nonprofit boards often replicate the power structures and inequities in society that nonprofit organizations are trying to dismantle.

At this point, the conversation turned to the relevancy of boards. Beyond what is legally required, why do we need nonprofit boards? What link is there between board effectiveness and nonprofit effectiveness? The research is inconclusive as to whether nonprofits are effective because they have good boards or whether effective nonprofits happen to have good boards. And what does a good board look like anyway?

Both Stone and Classen cautioned against looking for solutions in a single model of governance. Boards function differently based on organization size, type, stage, geography. Context is important when it comes to governance. They did suggest that organizations should consider separating governance from the work of the board. There are several governance functions that a nonprofit needs to perform, and they are not all done by the board exclusively. Boards should look at the distinction between their role in implementing and oversight of the governance for their organization.

This was just the first of several exciting discussions the PNLC looks forward to hosting through Theory to Practice. Join us on March 30th for a discussion on Nonprofit Job Seeking "Nonprofit Jobseeking" and April 21st for "Foundations: what's it really like?"

By: Stephanie Jacobs

Stephanie Jacobs is deputy director of the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center (PNLC), a community that creates and nurtures excellence in public affairs management and leadership. Prior to joining the PNLC, Stephanie was Program Director at the Nonprofits Assistance Fund. Previously, she was director of member services at the Minnesota Council on Foundations and consulting associate with Fieldstone Alliance. Stephanie is a graduate of St. Olaf College and holds a master's degree in public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She participated in the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Leadership Institute and is an active volunteer in the Minnesota nonprofit community.