Hi. I am David Fetterman, President and CEO of Fetterman & Associates (with 25 years of experience at Stanford University). I work in many areas of evaluation including as you may know – empowerment evaluation. One of my primary concerns is fostering collaboration in evaluation. My Hot Tip and Cool Trick both spring from the same resource: Google.
Hot Tip: Google Docs and Spreadsheets. Google Docs and Spreadsheets enables people to work on a document collaboratively – all at the same time. Instead of using track changes in Word and sending it from one person to another, this tool allows you to all creatively produce a document. For example, we use it in empowerment evaluations to invite colleagues/clients to participate in the development of a critical documents for the group, e,g., 1) mission statement; 2) taking stock – assessing what has been done to-date; and 3) plans or the future.
It also makes the group’s work transparent to the larger community and possibly funders. It provides a visual reassurance or validity to the group’s work. It also reassures the funder that diverse groups can and do work together. As long as there is critical information in the folder people will gravitate to the information. For more information, go to the page: http://docs.google.com/
Cool trick: Collaborative Web Pages. The next step in this process is inviting people to create their own web pages on the same group site. This is precisely what Google’s collaborative web sites allows. Clients can post pictures of their activities, descriptions, and even attach documents. The group can control who is invited to see the web site and contribute to it. It is a powerful tool to foster collaboration. http://sites.google.com
I hope you experiment with some of these tools with your family to stay in touch and build strong healthy relationships. The more comfortable you are using these tools with your family the more prepared and comfortable you will be using these tools with colleagues and clients. Enjoy!