JewDub.org: If You Build It.

I am generally not a huge fan of sports movies, but I will admit to being a total sucker for “Field of Dreams.” Something about the plot’s magical realism gets me every time. Time-traveling baseball players! James Earl Jones chuckling as he disappears into the cornfield! A chance to play catch with the younger incarnation of one’s father! If I happen across this movie while flipping channels, I am hooked until the last frame, happily dazed by the glowing headlights of the cars lined up to watch a game at the titular diamond.

The film’s tag line, “If you build it, they will come,” is the mantra that Kevin Costner’s character hears and repeats to himself. As the movie unfolds, he gradually comes to understand that constructing the baseball field will be enough to get fans out to watch a game. If he provides the physical space for the game to happen—and makes room in his heart to believe in this seemingly crazy scheme—then the crowds will show up. The movie’s conclusion vindicates the protagonist’s leap of faith and shows how taking a risk on an out-of-the-box idea can change your life.

But how often does life imitate art?

Building a new blog for the Stroum Jewish Studies Program this past year has been, in some ways, a test of the “If you build it…” philosophy. We have put time, energy, and resources into constructing an attractive site that will serve multiple constituencies. JewDub.org, in its ideal form, is an online space for University of Washington students, faculty, and community members to share conversations, research, and ideas. This project has required taking a leap of faith similar to the one taken by Costner’s character: we began building it based on a vision for innovative academic engagement, but weren’t at all sure whether the “crowd”—the various demographic groups we hoped to engage—would know how or why to show up.

As it has turned out, they ARE coming to JewDub.org, but in different ways than we had anticipated. Readers are interested in our content, but they are not yet participating in the lively discussions that we hoped our diverse blogs posts, videos, tweets, etc. would trigger; the comment spaces provided on the site remain painfully empty. In the baseball parlance of “Field of Dreams,” the fans are showing up to watch the game, but they haven’t crossed the line into the infield and become players as well.

As our team takes the summer to reflect on our progress and strategize for next year, we have a few key questions in mind. How can we create a culture wherein our readers are both consumers and producers of content on JewDub.org? How can we frame our rich material more effectively in order to stimulate discussion among our readers? What kinds of campus and community partnerships could create a more invested intergenerational audience?

For now we continue to build the site, excited about the possibilities ahead of us and knowing that with more work, outreach, and maybe a little movie magic, JewDub.org can become the dynamic online space that we envision.

Hannah Pressman is JewDub.org’s Content Manager and an Affiliate Faculty Member of the University of Washington’s Stroum Jewish Studies Program. Follow her on Twitter @jew_dub.

This post is part of our special summer series highlighting stories shared by our 2011-12 Social Media Boot Camp for Educators Cohort. The SMBC for Educators is made possible through a generous grant from the Covenant Foundation.

Drum Roll Please*… Announcing Our New Cohort of Educators

Darim Online is thrilled to announce our 2012-2013 cohort for our Social Media Boot Camp for Educators. The Social Media Boot Camp for Educators is a year long experience for Jewish educators and Jewish educational organizations to help them advance their use of social media for marketing, communications, family engagement and curricular uses.  The program has been generously funded by the Covenant Foundation since 2008.

This cycle Darim received dozens of compelling applications from a wide range of organizations.  The cohort was selected based on organizational readiness, innovation in organizational structure and/or program, risk taking, and team formation, among other attributes.  Those chosen represent a diverse group of established and start up organizations seeking to mature their operations, advance their curriculum, and take important risks to move themselves and their communities forward.  Of note this year, the number of Jewish Day Schools applying for the program swelled significantly.

And now, please welcome the members of our 2012-13 Social Media Boot Camp for Jewish Educators:

Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, Chicago, IL
www.bzaeds.org
Integrate social media learning platforms for student, educator, parent collaboration and engagement, with accompanying professional development.
Team Leader: Derek Gale, Director of Communications

Congregation Shearith Israel, Dallas, TX
www.shearith.org
Convey Jewish education and positive identity through the model of the Mishkan by shifting the current learning model from grade based classroom to  learning centers, family education opportunities, celebration of Jewish holidays, retreats, religious services, trips, and more.
Team Leader: Dina Eliezer, School Director

Edah: Center for Jewish Living and Learning/Jewish Community Federation, Oakland, CA
www.edahcommunity.org
Outreach to unaffiliated or unusually affiliated Jews to engage them in Edah programming as well as in Jewish life more generally; and, tap the potential of online, at-home family learning opportunities.
Team Leader: Ariela Ronay-Jinich, Education Director

Graduate Center for Education, American Jewish University, Los Angeles, CA
http://maed.ajula.edu
Expand the Center’s reach as a convener of conversations and disseminator of ideas for educators and parents/lay community; incubate new learning models that effectively wed learning objectives with social media; and, recruit talent into the field of Jewish education.
Team Leader: Miriam Heller Stern, Ph.D., Dean, Graduate Center for Education

Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island, Providence, RI
www.jcdsri.org
Integrate 21st Century skills into teaching across the curriculum, into marketing and outreach, internal marketing, and into ways the school collaborates internally and externally not only with the greater Jewish community and agencies, but with the larger Providence civic community as well.
Team Leader: Shari Weinberger, Curriculum Coordinator

LanderGrinspoon Academy, The Solomon Schechter School of the Pioneer Valley, Northampton, MA
www.lgaschechter.org
Create a portal through which parents experience Jewish education that will result in increased parent engagement and enthusiasm with Judaism at home and in their own lives, that will in turn, support student learning and enthusiasm in classrooms; and, help parents feel more confident in their own Jewishness and inspire their participation with wider Jewish community organizations and activities.
Team Leader: Marla Shelasky, Director of Admissions & Marketing

Mensch Modules: Jewish Virtues for Living, A Collaborative Effort of The Women’s Jewish Learning Center and The Learning Shuk, Scottsdale, AZ
http://womenlearning.org
http://www.thelearningshuk.com
Create Do-It-Yourself educational modules for parents on character development in children. Drawing on texts from the Mussar tradition, these modules will offer digitally friendly but intellectually compelling content that will allow parents to consider topics of great importance to family life and child-rearing.
Team Leader: Rabbi Elana Kanter, Director of The Women’s Jewish Learning Center/Content Creator for Mensch Modules

Portland Jewish Academy, Portland, OR
www.portlandjewishacademy.org
Leverage social media to enhance student learning and engagement across the curriculum, and to embed digital citizenship and media literacy skills as a natural part of the instructional experience.
Team Leader: Sarah Blattner, Technology Integration Specialist

RAVSAK: Community Day School Network, New York, NY
www.ravsak.org
Further develop their work as a networked organization to better connect school leaders and enhance their abilities to learn together and from one another through peer-mentoring, website resources, online forums and face to face gatherings.
Team Leader: Idana Goldberg, Associate Executive Director

Temple Sinai, Denver, CO
http://sinaidenver.org
Create authentic connections with families and develop user-friendly ways to provide them with materials to supplement in-school experiences with parallel “home shul” experiences, both academically and socially.
Team Leader: Elyse Adlen, Preschool Director

In addition to the coaching and consulting offered to each of the chosen team, Darim will be presenting a series of webinars over the coming year with a focus on innovation and social media in Jewish education. These webinars are open to the entire field at no cost.  To be notified of the schedule as the series is confirmed, please register to join the Darim Online Learning Network at http://www.darimonline.org/register

*We promised you a drum roll… click away for your choice of audio accompaniment!

The Four Steps In The Learning Journey

brain gearsHow to utilize social media, in today’s world of work, can be quite overwhelming to the average brain. Things have changed so rapidly with how we communicate, both in and outside of the workplace, that our brains are simply overwhelmed with new data. This rapid societal change has literally turned our work worlds upside down. Neuroscientists have found that the brain must go through four sequential steps, when trying to learn anything new, so it can properly transition itself to a higher functioning level.

At first, the brain feels “Unconsciously Incompetent” in its ability to even approach learning something new, such as how to use social media in a work environment. The brain feels clueless, so it takes on the belief that “ignorance is bliss” and avoids the subject all together. Attempting to learn a subject of this magnitude can make an individual feel too overwhelmed, so instead of coming up with a game plan to embark on this learning journey, they avoid the topic all together. They might say something like, “The reason I don’t have a Facebook account is because I don’t think any of us should use social media! It’s seems like one big waste of time.”

Next, the brain enters a state of, “Conscious Incompetence”, where the brain realizes how much it doesn’t know but feels almost incapable of taking in all this new information. The individual makes the attempt to learn, but finds the learning curve steeper than expected. They feel awkward, confused, frustrated, and even fearful of exemplifying their newly acquired knowledge and applying it in a real work setting. Maybe they’ve gotten the courage to create some kind of online presence, but still feel totally inadequate with their skill level. The brain finds this step extremely challenging because it’s filled with such a high level of discomfort.

Step number three is when the brain starts to see progress and feels “Consciously Competent” in using social media. The individual, at this stage in the learning journey, starts feeling accomplished. They find themselves utilizing social media on a regular basis, even in professional settings. They no longer feel fearful or overwhelmed by the subject matter.

Finally, the brain starts to go on auto-pilot, now “Unconsciously Competent”. It now can intuitively and automatically apply the learning because it’s had the proper amount of time to embed the data into the long-term memory of the brain. Being “Unconsciously Competent” gives the individual the confidence to expand their horizons, share their ideas with others, and figure out better ways to use social media in their specific line of work.

We live in such a different market place than we did in the past. People just can’t work the same way they did, before the social media invasion. We have no choice but to learn. By “labeling” our feelings, understanding our resistance, and giving ourselves adequate time to process new information, we can start (and keep) moving forward.

What stage are you at, and how have you progressed from one to the next?

Guest blogger Wendy Passer has been studying consumer behavior for over 25 years. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism, from the University of Kansas, and holds a certification in brain based coaching skills. She has held multiple leadership positions in the Jewish Community, trying to move mindset forward. Presently, she is serving as Chair of her temple’s educational think tank; CSI Squared, which is funded by The Jewish Federation of Detroit and The Alliance for Jewish Education. She lives in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, with Mike, her husband of 24 years, and their two teenage daughters; Rachel & Hannah. Click here for more information on the four stages of competence.

#12NTCJews Talk Networks and Nonprofits

This post is cross posted from Deborah Fishman’s blog, HaChavaya.

I must admit that I don’t go to very many conferences that aren’t “Jewish.” But last week I was excited to attend the Nonprofit Technology Conference of NTEN (#12NTC). I went to speak at a session in collaboration with the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation, Jim Joseph Foundation, and Darim Online, on networks, technology, and their application to non-profits – and yes, we were speaking about it particularly in a Jewish context. The truth is, with the attendance of over 70 non-profit professionals who are Jewish and/or working for Jewish nonprofits, this session and the social hour that followed had as much as or even more of the usual dose of Jewish geography, schmoozing/networking, and certainly the spirit of Jewish pride.

Why Jewish pride? The focus on how Jewish organizations are making an impact in this realm was impressive to many – especially those who don’t usually equate Jewish organizations as being at or even near the forefront of the technological cutting-edge. I give a lot of credit to the session sponsors, in particular Lisa Colton, the session facilitator, for recognizing the need to demonstrate how Jewish organizations are thinking about technology and networks, even fostering that energy beyond the session by using the hashtag #12ntcJews for the conference’s duration.

I don’t mean to say that the session insinuated that Jewish non-profits have all the answers when it comes to technology and networks. On the contrary, the timbre was very much expressing how we are all on a journey as we struggle with the issues 21st-century ways of communication pose to how we think and how we work. Actually, that was exactly what was so impressive – because in today’s interconnected, networked world, it’s not about the one-sided execution of perfection, but rather about engaging in a dialogue, asking the right questions, and reacting to that dialogue through constant experimentation. That sense of authenticity and candor about our work is so important to everything technology and networks represent.

The value placed on dialogue was evident in the diverse voices of the panel, featuring Josh Miller, Miriam Brosseau, David Cygielman, Lisa Colton and myself. The opportunity to learn from and share a podium with Jewish professionals making an impact in the realm of working in a networked way – as well as to hear comments and reactions from the audience members also engaging with these issues – was truly amazing. It sparked in me the sense that Jewish organizations have a lot to learn, not only from the scintillating conference attendees and presenters in nonprofit technology that surrounded us at NTC, but also specifically from each other. There are unique challenges and opportunities to working within the Jewish community, and we all are better positioned to take them on when we work together.

As part of my talk, I spoke about the need for a training program and community of practice for Jewish network-weavers, those in Jewish organizations working with networks to engage constituencies and foster connections and the sharing of resources and ideas between them. I believe this is very much needed in the Jewish world, especially as so many of us are already are on journeys to implement networked practice in our work.

Exemplifying these journeys, Miriam Brosseau and I spoke about our work with The Jewish Education Project and The AVI CHAI Foundation, respectively – both established organizations that are pivoting and really transforming themselves for the digital age. Miriam talked about how The Jewish Education Project is seeking not only to work with networks externally, but how they have realized that in order to do so they must also operate in a networked way internally, and they have created a community of practice to address this. She even brought in a Jewish concept – the idea of tocho k’varo, that just as the mishkan was required to be gold inside as well as outside, so too should we be the same internally and externally in order to be truly whole and authentic.

I spoke about AVI CHAI’s “communications revolution,” from top-down, one-way communication about our work to understanding that, in order for AVI CHAI to leave a legacy on the issues we care about, we must create dialogue and engage others in these issues. We are doing this through initiatives like ELI talks: Inspired Jewish Ideas ss well as grassroots brainstorms to generate creative ideas as to what would make day schools a more attractive option for parents not previously considering it.

In addition, Josh Miller from the Jim Joseph Foundation spoke about the foundation’s forays in working with networks, such as its investments in and lessons learned from the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund. David Cygielman from Moishe House exemplified an emerging organization that started from the beginning as a grassroots effort and continues to work in a networked way. Interestingly, being “native” to this mode of operation has not freed it entirely from network dilemmas. These have included how to incorporate technology as it scales and how to navigate the need to maintain a consistent level of Jewish educational content in its programming while remaining powered by grassroots needs and interests.

All of this, by the way, happened in my 12 hours in San Francisco. Why just 12 hours? It was actually a lot to spare on the day that my husband moved my family to a new apartment in a new city and two days before Pesach, over which we hosted two seders there. Why did I go at all? That’s just how passionate I am about this topic of networks, Jewish organizations, and technology. I am excited to be a part and witness the development of the emerging field of Jewish networks, and know it will lead us to be ever more effective and connected in the future.

Deborah Fishman is Director of Communications at The AVI CHAI Foundation, where she explores how network-weaving can be implemented to engage and inspire constituents to be more effective and connected. She dreams of implementing a network-weavers’ training program and community of practice to professionalize the field.

And We Gather Again at #12NTC

12ntclogoThe Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) hosts a phenomenal conference every year — the NTC. Attracting professionals, and lay leaders, from organizations both big and small (actually humongous international orgs as well as tiny local operations), from executive directors to IT staff and program professionals, it is a cornucopia of ideas, tools, strategies and do-gooding-ness. I go because I value the exposure to the best, brightness and most creative people in the field. I learn from the wider nonprofit field in order to bring these ideas, case studies and expertise back to the Jewish community. Over the last few years a few wonderful things have happened:

  • A number of consultants, trainers and experts in the nonprofit technology field have started working, or are increasing the work that they are doing in the Jewish community. Partially this is due to wonderful people and firms discovering the potential and need within the Jewish community, and partially due to increased awareness of Jewish organizations that they can and should be tapping into expertise that isn’t only specifically within the Jewish community. Firms such as Big Duck and Idealware are among them, both collaborating with Darim Online (Big Duck worked with us on the AVI CHAI Technology Academy, and Idealware is co-publishing an upcoming Social Media Policy Workbook with us), and working directly with Jewish organizations.
  • The number of Jewish professionals attending NTC has skyrocketed. Several years ago Brenda Gevertz from the Jewish Communal Service Association and I gathered the handful of attendees from Jewish organizations for lunch one day. The next year we occupied 2 tables and were spilling into a third. Last year we had over 70 representatives, and we are on our way to beat that number next week, even with the proximity to Passover.
  • Darim Online has used NTC as a platform for convening — rather than design and host our own conference, we find it’s much easier (and more efficient, and higher quality and more diverse) to piggy back on the NTC to give our community the technology shot in the arm we so desperately need. Last year in collaboration with the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and this year in collaboration with both the Schusterman and Jim Joseph Foundations, we are hosting both learning opportunities and social gatherings at NTC.

This year we’ll be gathering Wednesday April 4th form 3:30-5:00pm for learning about networks and how technology can support development and use of networks, and then celebrating and socializing with noshes and drinks at a happy hour from 5:00-7:30. The NTC is in San Francisco this year. The conference is sold out, but if you’re in the area and want to join us, we welcome you! Staff and lay leaders of Jewish organizations are welcome, as are Jews who are interested in technology but work for non-Jewish organizations. Sign up here. You can follow the NTC conference online this year (though unfortunately not our session), and follow the Jews at NTC on the hashtag #12ntcjews

A Skinny Book. Buy 12 Copies.

tstRabbi Hayim Herring (of STAR: Synagogues Transformation and Renewal) and the visionary behind Synaplex) has recently published a new book: Tomorrow’s Synagogue Today. You should read it, and buy a copy for the senior staff and every board member of your synagogue. Here’s the link. Go take care of business and then come back and keep reading. OK, now that the box is on its way, I’ll explain why you should read — and share — this book. First, Rabbi Herring gets it. He gets the big picture vision, the fundamental changes in society, and the risks that synagogues must take to remain a vital and vibrant center of Jewish life. But he also gets the completely practical details of synagogue change efforts. The dynamics of boards, the technology infrastructures, the values questions, and the training of Rabbis to fulfill the leadership roles. Second, he’s packed tremendous punch into a skinny little book that’s easy to follow. It’s like putting on a pair of glasses that helps you see the world through a different lens. Third, this book helps you develop a vocabulary to think about the future synagogue. And this is why it’s so important to read it together. Using the same terms, and shaping a shared vision will lubricate the discussions about change, helping everyone to move forward on a shared path. In Chapter 1 he addresses head on how the rules have changed:

  • from the age of organizations to toward the age of networks;
  • from credentialed professionals towards avocational experts;
  • from hierarchical control towards individual autonomy;from exclusivity toward inclusivity;
  • from monopolization of knowledge towards democratization of knowledge;
  • from assuming a fee-for-service economy towards expecting a free-for-service economy (at least at a basic level).

What does this mean for synagogues? A lot. While change is hard, it is necessary. We cannot keep our heads in the sand. We are living in a moment where the risk of staying the same is greater than the risk of change. Plain and simple. If we accept the change is necessary, then the question is what do we want, and how do we get there. Tomorrow’s Synagogue Today is a great step on that journey. How are thinking about the changing context of synagogue life, and its implications for your congregation? If you’ve read the book, what stood out for you, and how are taking action? And if you do read this book as a group, please share with us about your process and the discussions it provokes.

Torah to Twitter and Back at #CCAR12

david tweet ccar I’ve recently found that Twitter has been enhancing my experiences at conferences and conventions. I joined the social networking site when I was at the URJ Biennial in 2009, as so many people seemed to be tweeting there. As I got ready for the CCAR Convention it wasn’t just about finalizing travel arrangements and packing clothes, it was also about identifying the hashtag (#CCAR12) and downloading the convention app. And in the weeks preceding the convention Rabbis started tweeting about what they were looking forward to, they asked questions about what to bring and they shared travel arrangements. It is therefore hardly surprising that from the very beginning of the convention technology and social media have been playing a central part.paul tweet ccar A number of people were walking around the convention halls with QR codes stuck to their lapels (this was going to be one of the innovations being pushed at the CCAR). When scanned, these QR codes provided links to webpages, videos and information about the convention. And of course, from the very first session, Rabbis were tweeting about the convention. Services also took full advantage of technology as people were encouraged to lay down the siddur and pick up the iPad. With the CCAR’s iT’filah app, the congregation was divided with people following the prayers on the screen and on the page. Sari tweet ccarAnd in some services you didn’t need an iPad, you didn’t even need a book, as the prayers were broadcast onto screens at the front of the room for everyone to follow. Visual t’filah meant that hands were free, heads were looking up, and our bodies were opened up to join together in prayer. And again Rabbis were tweeting. And in sessions, they demonstrated good practice; a few copies of Rabbi Arthur Green’s handout were distributed, but on the screens a link was given for people to download the handout, along with a QR code for the handout, and during the session, all Jewish texts were displayed on the two large screens on either side of the podium. And of course, Rabbis were tweeting.

Eric tweet ccar

For me it was great to simply meet the people I know from Twitter, live and in person (I just had to learn names in place of handles). Many of these social media Rabbis were also a part of The Tech Bar, where colleagues could come for advice and conversations about how to use the technology. When reflecting on the technology used at the CCAR convention, I am convinced that thousands of trees were saved as a result of this focus. I have several ideas I’ve seen here which I will be taking back with me; for one I’ll be adding QR codes to my business cards (thank you @rabbiadam). And the tweeting added so much to my convention experience. In sessions a conversation could take place in the background, with key quotes phyllis tweet ccarshared with colleagues on Twitter. And during the breakout sessions, I followed the session I was in, but I could also get a taste and flavor of the sessions I could not attend. I would love to hear what other people took away from the CCAR convention (whether they were there or following on twitter). But I am left with one final question: what happens to a hashtag (#CCAR12) when the convention is over? Danny Burkeman is a Rabbi at The Community Synagogue (www.commsyn.org) in Port Washington.

geoffrey tweet ccar

He has been playing with computers since he first got an Amstrad 128K (an old English computer). Technology has been an important part of his rabbinate, and today he blogs (www.rabbidanny.com), tweets (@rabbi_danny), is on Facebook (R Danny Burkeman) and is now podcasting on iTunes (Two Minutes of Torah). To learn more about QR codes, you’re welcome to replay Darim’s webinar with guest QR expert, founder of The QR Project, and HUC Rabbinical student David Gerber. Click here to play the webinar. Rabbis use the new i'Tefilah iPad appCCAR used QR codes to help provide additional information.

Social Media: The Illuminated Megillah

There’s a lot of buzz about the increasingly image-driven nature of social media. At the forefront of this discussion is the latest hot social network, Pinterest. But it’s not only this virtual pinboard. Everywhere you look, memes are being generated to better marry words and pictures, kinetic typography videos are turning letters into animations, and infographics illuminate otherwise meaningless statistics. Pictures are the most highly engaged content on Facebook. Where is all this coming from? pinterest boards Image Credit: Thomas Hawk I’ve recently been reading a book by Dan Roam called “Blah Blah Blah: What To Do When Words Don’t Work.” It’s a fun and thoughtful read, definitely recommended. At the heart of Roam’s argument is essentially this: our brain works in details (words) and big ideas (pictures). We’re enamored with words, and we’re very good at them, but we’ve lost some connection with the picture part of our brain. Pictures are primal; they represent the earliest form of visual communication (think cave drawings). Pictures are evocative, emotional. They really are, as the saying goes, worth a thousand words. The image trend in social media is helping us reconnect with this essential part of ourselves. cavepainting Image Credit: williamcromar Just as importantly, pictures help us tell stories. I love graphic novels for just this reason. There’s a big difference between describing a frightening moment, or a sensual smile, or tears of joy, and literally drawing that out. While words help us understand and frame thoughts, pictures bring those thoughts to life in powerful ways. And we need them both – words and pictures work together to give us a fuller picture of the world around us. This is a huge opportunity for Jewish organizations. Words, pictures, and stories – this is what social media is all about…and we’ve got plenty of all three elements to share. Perhaps even more importantly, though, is the opportunity social media offers us to listen to others’ stories; their words and pictures strung together, the way they’ve framed their ideas and the things they care about. Social media gives us the structure to open up in new and meaningful ways, and there’s a wealth of things to learn. So in the spirit of Purim, I challenge every one of us to think deeply about the pictures we use, the words we choose, and the stories we tell. Social media spaces can help us craft our own illuminated Megillah, telling and celebrating the narratives of our people. It can also help us hear others’ stories, if we only listen. megillah1 Image Credit: victor408

The Medium and the Message, Pt. 1

Any Sex and the City fans out there? Me – guilty as charged. Skip down to the paragraph that begins with in talking to if youd prefer to avoid the fabulousness thats about to ensue…

The following clip does an especially great job of illustrating a point Ive been thinking about a lot lately. (Be forewarned there is some naughty language sprinkled here and there.)

Carrie, the shows witty protagonist, has just been broken up with by a depressingly lovable fellow writer, Berger. But shes not so much upset about the break-up as she is bewildered at the medium through which the break-up message was conveyed: that most ubiquitous of office supplies, the Post-It. Its clear to the stylish gaggle of ladies who lunch that the message and its delivery do not line up.

In talking to both individuals and groups about social media, many colleagues and I tend to stress that its just a tool. At the same time, we all know full well that social media is much more than that.

Heres an analogy; lets talk about food. Here in the U.S., eating is primarily done with forks and knives. Those are our tools and we dont think too much about it. But what happens when those tools are traded out for a row of six different forks, or a pair of chopsticks, or a communal piece of flat bread? The cultural implications of the tools with which we eat are suddenly brought to the forefront.

place setting
Image credit: Paul Goyette

Change the tool, and (to some extent) you change the culture. Or, similarly, to quote Marshall McLuhan, the medium is the message.

To touch briefly back on the aforementioned saga, Carrie later goes on a rant about how a break-up should ideally be handled. She stresses that the message of ending a relationship should be delivered in a way that honors what the two people had together. Essentially, the message and the medium should match.

Im confident everyone reading this post has had moments like this – moments in which weve questioned what is appropriate to share (or find out) via Facebook, or over email, or in a text. The screenshot below illustrates a very mild example.

reallyfb2

And its not only due to issues of public vs. private in these spaces, but something deeper. Theres something about posting certain messages on Twitter, for instance, that feels like the digital equivalent of breaking up on a Post-It. But these media are all developing so quickly, becoming so deeply ingrained into our lives and even onto our physical selves, thats its often unclear how to draw these boundaries. Or whether it is a fools errand to try to do so.*

How can an organization keep up and be successful in this environment? Ill give you my thoughts on this in a follow-up post. But now, Id love to hear yours. Have you ever had a Post-It moment? What are your impressions of the relationship between the medium and the message? What are the implications for Jewish organizations in the connected age?

*To further complicate the matter, social media is not some monolithic beast. The term refers to a field, a loose configuration of platforms and spaces that allow for certain kinds of interaction. Each space has developed a culture of its own. There are behavioral and conversational norms that are perfectly acceptable in one space that would seem quite odd in another. For instance, sharing pictures of your breakfast has become fairly acceptable on Facebook; doing so in LinkedIn may not go over so well. (But now Ive gone off about food again…)

Applications Now Open! Darim Online Social Media Boot Camp for Educators

We are thrilled to announce that applications for the new Darim Online Social Media Boot Camp for Educators (2012-2013) are open! Learn more… and apply!!

  • Are you a creative, curious, risk-taking educator in a Jewish educational setting?
  • Do you have a really great idea for using new media / educational technology that youve wanted to test out?
  • Do you want Darim to be your personal coach and mentor as you plan and launch your project?
  • Is your organization ready to think about what it means to achieve your mission in a digital age?
  • Are you interested in joining a community of like-minded educators for 9 months of intensive professional development and collaborative learning?

Darim Online is pleased to announce the opening of applications for our next cohort of Social Media Boot Camp for Educators. This program will support innovative Jewish educators in using social media effectively in their work, and assist their organizations in evolving models for success in the digital age.

The Social Media Boot Camp for Educators program is made possible through a generous grant by The Covenant Foundation.

About the Program

Darim is seeking to mentor up to 10 Jewish educational organizations, represented by 3-5 person teams, that are engaged in innovation and risk taking and which serve North American Jews. These teams will participate in a year long professional development and coaching experience to advance their work.

Program Structure

This Boot Camp cohort will run during the upcoming academic year, September 2012 – May 2013. Boot Camp teams are expected to commit 5-10 hours per month toward related professional development and project implementation (including webinars, coaching, and project development).

The program includes:

  • Participation in our series of monthly skill-building webinars which includes Darims overall Learning Network for Educators (teachers, directors of education, rabbis, lay leaders, and others interested in Jewish education);
  • Private coaching and consulting with Darim consultants to address strategic and tactical goals, and to help design, implement, and refine a technology-supported project. Teams from each organization will meet with a coach approximately twice a month over the academic year, with additional communications as needed;
  • Connection with other members of the Social Media Boot Camp, to learn from each others experience and projects through an online community and webinar-based sharing;
  • Representatives of your organization are welcome to attend any and all Darim Online Learning Network webinars

About the Team Driven Model

This program seeks to support educators and their organizations in creating and implementing social media projects that achieve their mission, and serve to mature the organizations strategy and operations for success in the digital age. To achieve this goal, we believe that it is important for teams to participate in the program. Suggested team composition should include: an educator, senior staff, and lay leadership or other volunteer.

Teams will focus on a particular goal and project which may include innovations in: curricular design, professional development, parent-school engagement, or marketing and communications… just to suggest a few ideas. While the team will focus on one specific project, we expect that the experience of the Boot Camp will pay dividends in many areas of your work. We hope through this experience you will become active participants in shaping the future strategic direction of their organization.

Eligibility and Expectations

Eligibility

Applications are open to educators and their organizations, including but not limited to classroom teachers, education directors, rabbis, and cantors who work with North American Jews. We welcome applications from educators working within traditional institutions as well as those engaged in new models of Jewish education.

Our current cohort includes national Jewish educational organizations, congregational / complementary school programs, and a day school.

Expectations

We are dedicated to your success!

We therefore emphasize that regular participation in the Boot Camp is essential to gaining maximal value out of your experience and is important to the dynamic of the overall Boot Camp community.

Please be sure you and your team are willing to commit to this program. Below are our expectations for a successful experience. We recognize that we are working across multiple time zones and schedules and we are committed to being flexible and accessible within the programs parameters so that you can derive the most benefit from your participation possible.

  • Regular attendance at our series of skill-building webinars, which include education-focused sessions and general skill building sessions. Each member of your team is expected to attend at least 7 webinars over the course of the program, two of which can be downloaded and played instead of attending live;
  • Regular participation in team coaching sessions with a Darim coach (approximately twice a month);
  • Dedication of at least 3-8 hours per month to develop and launch your project;
  • Regular participation in the Boot Camps online community;
  • Presentation of your work in at least one Sharefest! Webinar;
  • Willingness to share and disseminate lessons learned;
  • Documentation of your experience in a format that can be shared with the community (e.g., a guest blog post on JewPoint0.org or a written case study).

Upon successful participation in this program per the terms above, each team will receive a budget of up to $250 to be used toward your project, subject to approval by Darim. Each team will be required to submit receipts for such purchases (e.g., securing a domain name, a private blog, a Flip video camera or other products or licenses).

Applications

Applications for the Social Media Boot Camp for Educators can be found here and are due Sunday, April 1, 11:59pm ET. Those chosen to participate in the cohort will be announced in late May.

Apply here!

A copy of the application form is available here to preview. We recommend that you prepare your responses in advance and cut and paste the text into the application form, since you will be required to complete the application in one sitting (but give us a shout if you run into trouble).

Important Dates

The Boot Camp runs during the 2012-2013 academic year (September 2011 -May 2012).

Please note: Although the program officially kicks off Fall 2012, we recognize that some participants may wish to begin their planning earlier; we are open to providing coaching on a limited basis to participants over the summer.

February 20, 2012 Application process open
April 1, 2011 Applications due by 11:59pm ET
Early May 2012 Announcement of Social Media Boot Camp for Educators cohort
June 2012 early coaching option for Boot Campers;
September 2012 Cohort Kick-Off, regular coaching schedule and webinars begin;
May 2013 Final Boot Camp for Educators Sharefest!: to present work to the community; cohort concludes.

Questions?

Please contact us at learningnetwork@darimonline.org