2011 Syllabus

Course Description

Examines the use of computer applications to consume, manage, analyze, and disseminate public information, improve worker productivity and achieve agency mission. Attention is given to improving students’ technical acumen and to examining important public/nonprofit sector IT issues.


Knowledge Analysis and Commentary (Blog Post): 30%

Weekly Assignment:
Write a 200 word (or more) post on ONE topic related nonprofit or government related technology issue.
For a post to be counted you must:
– Publish the post to post@pa311.posterous.com by noon the day of the class. Late posts will not count.
– Check your work. Posts with significant spelling or word usage errors will not be counted.
– Fact check your work. I expect your posts to be factually accurate.
– Write about a topic related to technology in the social or government sector. Writing about just technology won’t count.
Individual Project: Technology Instruction and Presentation: 25%

— Online Instructional Material: 15% (Material must be accessible by a public URL by noon on March 21)

— Presentation: 10% (6% Quality of Explanation; 4% Class Ranking)

The project consists of two parts: creating instructional material then presenting the information to the class in a presentation lasting no more than 10 minutes.  You may choose your topic, but it must be clearly related to nonprofit and government technology issues. Written topic proposals are due to me by email at noon on February 21. If you do not receive approval for your topic at class that evening, I will assign a topic to you.
Explain a key technology tool or issue, optionally comparing two distinct solutions. Share your knowledge with the rest of the class in an appropriate method, ranging from an article explaining a tool, a set of detailed instructions, a recorded screencast, podcast, or video.
Example of the type of projects I’m looking for include:
– Software comparison, e.g., Idealware article Comparing Online vs. Traditional Office Software.
– Detailed task instructions, e.g., how to display data from a spreadsheet on a Google Map with Mapalist.com.
– Process mapping or description, e.g., how a nonprofit streamlined client tracking and reporting with a database.
– Case study, e.g., showing how a specific agency simplified volunteer scheduling with a shared calendar.
Knowledge Identification / Sharing (Social Bookmarking): 25% 
Bookmarking at least 3 unique, relevant resources related to nonprofit/government technology each week to the class’s Diigo group. For at least ONE of the pieces of information bookmarked you must write an original, cogent paragraph of commentary.
Tests: 10%
— Mid-Term – 5%
— Final Exam – 5%
Exams will be comprehensive, drawing from assigned reading material and content presented in class (including any material covered by guest speakers).
Attendance: 10%
Yes, showing up counts — as does asking thoughtful questions in class or online (posting, tweeting, bookmarking, or commenting). Let’s use #pa311 as our hashtag for relevant content.
Virtual Office Hours and Contact Info

I’ll be available to answer questions or provide advice outside of class on Wednesdays from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm and Fridays from 8:30 am – 9:30 am.  Join me online for a web meeting at http://wolber.me/2011OfficePA311.  You’ll need a current browser. After you connect online, you can join the voice conference via phone using a long-distance number, or with a headset and microphone using Skype or a built-in VOIP option. If you prefer, you can simply ask questions via chat. (The tool used is FuzeMeeting.com.)
Outside of the above scheduled office hours, you may also schedule time to meet as needed.  My schedule is available online at http://tungle.me/andywolber.
Please let me know if you can’t make it to class via text or email.
Phone/SMS: 313-595-2017; email: andy@pa311.com.
Class Schedule
January 10
Tools: Diigo; Posterous; FuzeMeeting
January 17
Read: John’s Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies: “The Nonprofit Technology Gap: Myth or Reality
Watch: “Know your sector
Topic: Infrastructure (Internet, Modem, Switches, Cabling, Server, Client Devices, Printers/Scanners, Documentation)
Demo: Computer purchase configuration
Lab: Choose printers for a 2 location, 10-person office (7 staff in one location, 3 in another) printing 2,500 pages per month; provide reasons & identify expected costs over 3 years.
January 24
Read: Idealware.org: “Selecting Software on a Shoestring
Topic: Basic software (Operating systems, Office, Security, Backup, Communication, Accounting, Databases)
Tools: Microsoft Update; Secunia Update; Microsoft Security Essentials; Ninite.com
Lab: Personal tech interview and write-up (no recommendations, just assessment).
Notes: Bookmarks to Diigo, Thoughts to Posterous. QR codes. Press releases vs. Reporting / Source review: private company versus nonprofit versus individual versus government versus educational institution. Games for Change link. Grand Rapids science reporting. Health privacy information / sale of private data issues.
Discuss: Experience of printer selection.
January 31
Watch: CommonCraft.com Videos on Technology in Plain English: Cloud Computing
Topic: Cloud Computing mindmap
February 7
Read: ICT Hub Guide: “A Guide to Managing ICT in the Voluntary and Community Sector” (Alternative link, if that one is not working)
Topic: Google Apps slides
February 14
Topic: Choosing Vendors; Training; see links tagged from my Diigo account.
Guests: Adam King and Mark Shaw, from Highway T
February 21 MidTerm
Proposed Project Topic Due: Email a 100 word summary of your proposed project to me by noon today for review and approval.
February 28
(Optional to watch: Frontline: “Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier“)
Tool/Lab: WordPress
Possible project tool: www.Slideshare.net/zipcast
March 14
Read: Robert Weiner’s blog post on “Choosing a Donor Database
Read: Wes Trochill’s five blog posts drawn from his book “Put Your Data to Work: 52 Tips and Techniques for Effectively Managing Your Database”
Watch: MAP Techworks “Improving your Nonprofit’s Database
Topic: Databases and Salesforce
Tool: Salesforce
March 21
IMPORTANT: Final Project Materials must be online by noon today.  POST the link to your information/materials on the pa311.posterous.com site!
Watch: CommonCraft.com Videos on Technology in Plain English: RSS
Watch: Michael Wesch’s “The Machine is Us/ing Us
March 28
Project Presentations: Kyle BaumannAndrew FrederickMitchell Crase,
April 4
Read: ICT Hub Guide: “How to Cost and Fund ICT
Read: NTEN’s Quarterly Journal, “Changes” feature story “Boosting Board Collaboration”
Optional: Read case study in NTEN’s Quarterly Journal re: NPower Michigan
Topic: Location and Data Matters; Mapalist
Project Presentations: Brad Ysseldyke, Kimberly CaseShingirai JemwaManyuon Ayac (originally scheduled 3/28), Kristen VanNoordKayla Meyer,Michael Bennett, Ron McKee (originally scheduled 3/28)
April 11
Topic: How Social Media Changes our Work; Meeting Tools
April 18
Topic: Mobile Technologies and Trends: laptops vs. desktops, e-books vs. print, wayfinding, invisiblepeople.tv (“free agent vs org”)
Project Presentations: Sara KaphingChrist-Anh NguyenDarrell WilliamsColin Moore, Carolyn CalleryLeslie Pearce, Nakeita Harris (originally scheduled 3/28)
April 25 Final Exam (6 pm, usual class time)
Project Presentation: Niyata Brown
Final Exam: 20 multiple choice questions, 4 essay questions