2014 Syllabus

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.

  • Understand how to write for an online audience (e.g., citation of source material, use of links, and appropriate use of embedded multimedia content, such as video)
  • Capable of creating and delivering a presentation that distills a technical topic for a general audience (for example: create and deliver an “Ignite-style” presentation with Google Slides: 20-slides that auto-advance every 15-seconds, describing a technical topic.)
  • Able to effectively work with video and sound (i.e., interview a working professional in the nonprofit/government field about the professional’s use of technology)
  • Proficient with social/collaborative tools (e.g., assignments and discussions in a Google+ Community.)
  • Familiar with basic technology terms and tools used in small and mid-sized nonprofit organizations. This includes the basics of Internet bandwidth, network devices, purchasing criteria for desktops/laptops/tablets/phones/printers. Able to research and analyze alternative tools based on defined requirements.
  • Able to identify key nonprofit technology resources (e.g., NTEN.org, TechSoup.org, GuideStar.org, VolunteerMatch, HandsOnNetwork, FoundationCenter, etc.)


I use a cumulative point system to determine your grade. Your final letter grade will be assigned based on total points accumulated:

A (> 90 points), B (> 80 points), C (> 70 points), D (> 60 points). NOTE: I reserve the right to adjust the grade with a “+” or “-“, based on course participation and my subjective judgement of the quality of work.
REQUIRED (up to 60 points)
Online post writing (4 posts worth 4 points each = 16 points)
Topic selection & outline – up to 1 point
Complete post – up to 2 points
Appropriate use of embedded items / links – up to 1 point
You are required to write four 400 word (or more) posts on topics related to a nonprofit or government related technology issue.
Your writing must be posted to the class’ Google+ Community by the end of the class period on January 29, February 26, March 26, and April 16. You will have time in class to work on your post, but I strongly encourage you to begin work on the post in advance.
For a post to be counted you must:
– Publish the post and share with the class’ Google+ Community by the end 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.
– Link to and cite your sources. I expect you to link to source material on which you comment. Quoted material does NOT count toward your word count.
– Write about a topic related to technology in the social or government sector. Writing about just technology won’t count. Writing about a nonprofit or government issue that doesn’t relate to technology also won’t count.
Presentation (maximum 20)
Brochure-length presentation description – up to 3 points
Twitter-length presentation description – up to 2 points
20 well-crafted slides – up to 5 points
Preview presentation to instructor – up to 3 points
In class presentation – up to 7 points 
Explain a technology and the problem that the technology solves. You may choose your topic, but it must be clearly related to nonprofit and government technology issues. 
The required format is the Ignite style of presentation, where 20 slides are presented, each being shown for 15 seconds. The intent is to provide an informative, visually engaging, fast-paced and focused overview of a single topic.
The project consists of five parts: 
1. Brochure-length presentation description – due January 29
2. Twitter-length (140-characters or less) description – due February 5
3. TWENTY slides (no more, no less) created using Slides in Google Docs. This include one title slide identifying the presentation topic and author. Due February 19.  Material must be shared to the class Google+ Community by 6 pm the end of class on February 19. NOTE: You must cite sources on slides and provide links to resources. Slides must be “published” and set to auto-advance every 15 seconds during the presentation. This means the presentation time will be 5 minutes.
4. Preview presentation to instructor (to be scheduled: March 12, March 19 or March 26)
5. In class presentation of the slides (to be scheduled: April 2, 9, or 16)
Video interview (maximum 16)
Appropriate subject selection and core questions – up to 8 points
Video/audio quality –  up to 4 points 
Titles and editing – up to 4 points
Video of an interview of a person working with a nonprofit or public agency about their use of technology. I need to approve the subject of your video interview no later than the end of class on February 12. Video interview must be posted by March 26.
Record and edit the interview using any video tools you wish (for example, http://youtube.com/my_webcam or YouTube’s Capture app). Post the video to the class Google+ Community.
The final video must include the subject’s answers to the following questions. I encourage you to seek responses to other questions, of course, but these are absolutely required. Note: you don’t have to ask the question exactly as phrased; you just need to make sure these questions are clearly answered in the interview:
– What is your name?
– What organization are you affiliated with?
– What fundamental issue is your organization trying to address?
– What is the most interesting thing you’re using technology to accomplish?
– In what way has technology changed how you work, since the start of your career?
For an example of the type of video interview I’m looking for, see Dave Weinberger’s interview of Anil Dash.
Mid-term in-class project (maximum 8 points)
The mid-term in-class project will be a 3-segment project. Details to be provided in-class on the date of the exam.
IN-CLASS PROJECTS (up to 24 points)
These will be started and completed in-class. Project details will be explained in class.
– Personal tech use assessment – up to 4 points
– Create a Storify story – up to 4 points
– Map a data set – up to 4 points
– Compare specs spreadsheet – up to 4 points
– Create a link-list of resources – up to 4 points
– Map personal info workflow – up to 4 points
If you are unable to attend class on a day we’re doing an in-class project, there are several other ways to gain needed points.
OTHER PROJECTS (up to 68 other points available) 
– Online post writing (maximum of an additional 4 posts worth 4 points each = 16 points)
– Share relevant resources via Twitter (#pa311) or other online tool – .2 points for each relevant, unique resource; maximum of 1 point per week (up to 12 points).
– Demonstrate active use of 2-step authentication on at least two accounts – up to 4 points
– Demonstrate active use of password generator/manager – up to 2 points
Approval of instructor required before starting
– Tech Assessment for an organization – up to 16 points
– Organizational tech use case study (must interview at least 3 people, including at least one staff member and one board member) – up to 12 points
– Create infographic relevant to course subject – up to 4 points
– Analyze and recommend how an organization might improve their use of Facebook by reviewing the org’s Facebook Insights – up to 4 points
– Other projects proposed by student – points to be determined
Andy Wolber (phone/SMS: 313-595-2017; email: andy@wolberworks.com OR wolbera@gvsu.edu; Google+: +AndyWolber; Twitter @awolber)

Please let me know in advance if you can’t make it to class. If you would like to schedule time to meet to discuss your projects or the class, let me know. I’m in Grand Rapids most Wednesdays; we can also schedule a phone call or Google+ Hangout.
Class Schedule

January 8
Topic: Class overview; Introductions; Google+ Community overview & setup
In class project: Personal tech use assessment – up to 4 points
January 15
Topics: Tech Essentials and Security (slides and Buying Basics Pinterest board)
In class project: Compare specs spreadsheet – up to 4 points
January 22
In class project: Map personal info workflow – up to 4 points
Example presentation: would like to have at least one (or more) presentation topic idea from each of you before you leave class
January 29
Topic: Social media overview created with Storify
In class project: write online post (1 of 4)
Due: Post brochure-length presentation description to the class Google+ Community (up to 100 words; for example, see a description of a crowdfunding session gave in Traverse City this fall).
February 5
Topic: Presenting information
In class project: 
Create a Storify story – up to 4 points
DuePost Tweet-length presentation description to the class Google+ Community
February 12
… and there is such as thing as free webhosting for nonprofits: see Dreamhost.
Due: Obtain approval for video interview subject from instructor
February 19
In class project: write online post (2 of 4)… PLEASE: 1) write the post directly in the text box of Google+, 2) Include ONE relevant image (remember the Creative Commons image search?), and 3) if appropriate, format your text *bold*, _italics_, or -strikethough-.
Due: Post presentation slides to the class Google+ Community.
February 26
Mid-Term In-class project
March 5 
No class / Spring break
March 12
In class project: Create a link-list of resources – up to 4 points
To schedule: Preview presentation for instructor
March 19
To schedule: Preview presentation for instructor
March 26
Topic: Location & mapping
In class project: Map a data set – up to 4 points
To schedule: Preview presentation for instructor
Due: Post video interview to the class Google+ Community.
Resources: Cridata.org
April 2
Topic: Meeting online
In class project: write online post (3 of 4)
To schedule: Student presentations to class
April 9
Presentations: Lester, Jonathan, Anna, Krystal, Jen. 
Topic: Version control systems; Clay Shirky: “How the internet will (one day) change government“; GitHub; PenFlip.com
April 16
Presentations: Lisa, Peter, Kasey, Danielle, Alex. 
In class project: write online post (4 of 4)
April 23 
Final Exam (usual class time)
Student Evaluation
Based on student feedback, I plan to:
– Simplify the 2015 syllabus
– Clarify grading, and
– Increase student time working with tech tools.