NTCjews: Join Us at the Nonprofit Technology Conference

Have you been to the Nonprofit Technology Conference?  No?  Oh boy, you've gotta come.  It's a gathering of about 2000 of the country's most interesting do-gooders who use technology in any part of their work — from marketing and communications, to fundraising, to data management, and innovative leadership for cutting edge organizations.

Each year, we gather the Jews at NTCjews — many who work for Jewish organizations, and some who are Jewish and work for other organizations.  We share knowledge and experience, learn together, eat together and strengthen our network for support and inspiration year around.  We love bringing people from Jewish organizations here to learn about the best of what's happening across the nonprofit field.

This year NTC is March 23-25, 2016 in San Jose, California.  You should come! If you're interested in learning more about what we're doing there (learning sessions, networking, dinner together, Purim celebration) drop your name and email in the form below so we can make sure to keep you updated.

More info on the conference is here:  http://www.nten.org/ntc/

Get a little insight into why we love this conference:

 

Share your info below and we'll keep you posted on NTCjews plans and events!

80-20: Work on Whatever You Want

Netbooks, Document Cameras, Google Apps, Educational Apps, Student blogs, we floated all of these ideas around as we tried to come up with where to focus our technology training this summer. There are so many opportunities it is often overwhelming. With training being a fundamental component of our technology plan at the Stanford Eisenberg Knoxville Jewish Day School, we struggled to determine a school wide technology goal for the coming year. As we spoke and brainstormed, inspiration from the NAJDSC, and our recent participation in the Darim Online Jewish Day School Social Media Academy came together, and an idea formed based.

One of the famous benefits of working at Google is the 20 percent time program. Google allows its employees to use up to 20 percent of their work week at Google to pursue special projects. That means for every standard work week, employees can take a full day to work on a project unrelated to their normal workload. At Hewlett-Packard, 3M, and Google, "many" of their best and most popular products come from the thin sliver of time they granted employees to work on whatever they wanted to.

We decided that instead of us choosing a school wide goal we would allow each teacher to choose a technology based project that they’d like to implement in their classroom. We’d take the money we would have spent training and pay our teachers to spend the time to research, create and implement a project that they were passionate and excited about. We have a treasure of knowledge, experience and skill amongst our staff and with so many learning opportunities readily available on the internet we know we will have a rich, informative and exciting journey. The program has no outcome benchmarks but process requirements. The focus is on the experience. Because we are offering the freedom to “work on whatever you want” we are also offering the freedom to fail, without failure there can be no innovation or true experimentation. Regardless of whether the project plays out as we hope it to we know there will be valuable lessons learned from the process.

In addition to choosing and implementing a project there will be a reflective and reporting process where teachers will reflect, share and teach each other about their project and what they have learned. Not only will teachers benefit from their projects and experience they will learn from everyone else’s research and projects. And at the end of the project we will have a staff where each teacher is well versed and experienced in different areas of technology and available to support each other in their area of expertise.

Miriam Esther Wilhelm is the founding Head of School at the Stanford Eisenberg Knoxville Jewish Day School. She has enjoyed the journey of taking the school from a start up to a growing and thriving Jewish Day School.
 
The Jewish Day School Social Media Academy is an intensive program designed to help Jewish Day Schools advance their strategic use of social media in areas such as communication, marketing, community building, alumni relations and development. The 2012-13 nationwide cohort of 20 schools was generously supported by The AVI CHAI Foundation.  Each of the schools will be sharing insights from their experience through blog posts here this spring with the tag #jdsacademy
 
The 2013-14 cohort is currently in formation. If your school or community is interested in more information, please contact Lisa Colton.
 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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

The Emerging Field of Network Weavers

After in-depth conversations with around 30 network-weavers in the Jewish world as part of my Network-Weaver Series, I have seen that there are a lot of really passionate people building networks that are quite impressive – and the term “network-weaving” resonates with many of them quite deeply. It puts a descriptive word to what they do in connecting others toward a greater cause; and more importantly, it acknowledges that they are not alone in doing it. On a parallel level, more and more organizations are becoming aware of the possibilities of working with networks that can drive forward causes and campaign, build and unite communities, and provide support and resources that bolster Jewish identity. Yet there is confusion and imprecision in terminology – most notably, the term “network” itself. Once a network is properly understood to be a system of interconnected individuals or groups who share some factor(s) in common, it is not always clear how to integrate work with networks into one’s day-to-day activities. How do we support and strengthen the execution of this role in our organizations, and in the community as a whole? Based on my conversations, I believe three parallel tracks are necessary to make the Jewish world’s already invaluable efforts – in education, social services, community-building, social justice, and on – more effective and connected:

  1. Training: Organizations, their leadership, and their professionals well-positioned to build and sustain networks should gain a greater understanding of how networks operate and how to work in a networked way. This training will be most effective if it includes a continuum of learning the theory and practicing it in action.
  2. Connecting: Network-weavers across organizations need to be connected to support one another, share frustrations and best practices, find resources (including people, information, and funds), and collaborate;
  3. Professionalizing: These steps and others will build toward the professionalization of the field of Jewish network-weaving – which will create a commonly accepted terminology of network-weaving, its challenges and benefits. With this understanding, it will become more standard for organizations to incorporate network-weaving into their job descriptions and their strategy.

The fact is that professionals across the spectrum of Jewish nonprofits are already weaving networks – that is, connecting people with resources and each other for greater goals. Communications and alumni relations professionals and those in outreach, education, and young adult engagement are just some examples. In my interviews, I have observed many common themes amongst those who excel at network-weaving positions. These include a desire to get to know others due to an insatiable curiosity for and fundamental love of people; a knack for retaining knowledge about others so as to formulate helpful connections between disparate parties on the spot; and an ability to employ these talents and others for the sake of driving forward projects, and ultimately missions. Yet while many of the network-weavers I interviewed spoke of the innate and intuitive “people skills” their work entails, there are tools, technologies, as well as theory and strategy behind building networks, which have a firm academic foundation that can be learned and applied. Furthermore, I believe that network-weaving throughout the Jewish world will become increasingly effective as network-weavers learn to practice a greater degree of intentionality – a consciousness first and foremost of the larger vision they are seeking to achieve, and then an understanding of how networks operate and how they can be strategically leveraged toward those goals. The process of training, connecting, and professionalizing that I have laid out will help those who are currently in network-weaving roles to become more effective – as well as those who are naturally adept at network-weaving characteristics (such as relationship-building) and would like to fill professional network-weaving roles to grow into them. This, therefore, would also tremendously benefit the organizations network-weaving positions are housed in, and the Jewish world as a whole. Considering that so many organizations and individuals are currently exploring the path of building networks, I believe it only makes sense to find ways to weave our efforts together. Network-weaving sounds highly theoretical until you try to put it into practice. At the point when talk begins to translate into action, everyone will need to support one another through the challenges and combine our energies and resources toward the solutions. What do you think needs to happen in order for this field to be professionalized? What do you need in your organization and/or as a network-weaver? How have you created organizational change, and what do you dream of for the future? If you would like to be a part of these efforts, please contact me! Deborah Fishman is a network weaver interested in new opportunities to create change in the Jewish world. She was most recently Editor and Publisher of PresenTense Magazine. This post is cross-posted on Deborah’s blog, hachavaya.blogspot.com, as a part of her ongoing conversation series with network-weavers about their best practices. Deborah has published many of these interviews and other network weaving thoughts on eJewishPhilanthropy.com too.

Pull Up a Hashtag and Chat Awhile!

#jedchat is coming – and you are it! The first #jedchat synchronous twitter chat for Jewish educators will be held Wednesday, October 26 at 9pmET. What is #jedchat? In short, it’s professional learning and networking at your fingertips, brought to you by the collaborative team of Akevy Greenblatt (@Akevy613), Dov Emerson (@dovemerson), and Rabbi Meir Wexler (@RabbiWex) via Twitter. #jedchat is modeled after the successful #edchat collaborative discussions that have taken place on Twitter since 2009. Edchat brings together educators and those interested in education from around the world every Tuesday at 12pmET and 7pmET. Many Jewish educators are active participants in Edchat and the network that has developed around the synchronous conversations. Inspired by Edchat, #jedchat was created to foster connections and support professional learning for Jewish educators by Jewish educators. Akevy Greenblatt explains:

"We wanted to give Judaic teachers from all backgrounds an open and safe forum to share ideas and learn from each other."

So put on your thinking kippot and join the inaugural conversation which will center on: What do you want to gain from jedchat? How can we develop a Judaic pln (professional learning network). Join in the Learning :

  • Get ready to participate – got a twitter account? Follow the conversation here. Better yet, add your voice to the conversation by tweeting your ideas. Remember to include #jedchat in your tweet. And don’t forget to save #jedchat under your "Searches" for easy reference. You can also use a filtering tool to better follow the stream of tweets like Tweetdeck (see the #Edchat tutorial here).
  • Don’t have a twitter account yet? Set one up – it’ll only take a few minutes. The hardest part will probably be figuring out your Twitter name! Here’s a how-to from Twitter.
  • Set your clock for the real time #jedchat on Wednesdays at 9pm ET (you can figure out your local time for the first chat by clicking on the link).
  • No need to set your clock. Participants are using the #jedchat tag to extend the conversation and share resources and ideas at any time, as applicable. Think of it as a perpetual global cocktail party.
  • Join the jedchat wiki and connect – add your name and twitter name to the participants section, share your ideas for upcoming topics!
  • Take a gander at PEJE’s tutorial for tips and techniques for becoming a Twitter power user: You Can Speak the Language of Twitter
  • Check out Shelly Terrell’s (@ShellTerrell) tips for participating in a twitter chat based on her experiences with #edchat
  • Want more Jewish education goodness? Follow#jed21 and join the conversations!

Most importantly, have fun learning and connecting! #jedchat is all about the people who make the conversation! Will we see you there? What topics would you like to engage with on #jedchat? Take the #jedchat hashtag out for a spin and tweet out your ideas! Special thanks to Akevy Greenblatt (@Akevy613), Dov Emerson (@dovemerson), and Rabbi Meir Wexler (@RabbiWex)! photo credit: misspixels on flickr [cross-posted from jlearn2.0]

What Can Be Learned From The Congruence of the Dragonfly’s Wings

Do you ever feel like you are flailing when it comes to your social media strategy? Or that you do not have any coordination at all? Look at the dragonfly. In order for it to accelerate rapidly and change directions immediately, all four wings must move in congruence.

As Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith in their book The Dragonfly Effect explain four metaphorical “wings” – focus, grab attention, engage, take action – must work together to ensure social media success. Utilizing these wings can provide Jewish institutions a foundation for not just maintaining an online presence, but truly galvanizing a constituency to actively engage in Judaism and the community. 4 wings

1. Focus – prior to entering the social media arena, zero in on simple and realistic goals. As opposed to top down planning, it is vital to build personal relationships, be authentic and listen intently to the communal needs. At Temple Israel in Memphis, we organized heterogeneous focus groups to hear individual thoughts concerning the temple. Based on their insights, a vision was constructed by lay leaders, stating our congregation’s role to connect Jews more deeply to Torah, spiritual fulfillment, community, and tikkun olam. Using this as the foundation, our temple’s Facebook page, alongside my Rabbi Adam Facebook and Twitter accounts, ultimately connect to our community more deeply and, subsequently, help to drive our attendance, donations, long-term membership, and new member opportunities. While some might disregard this planning stage, successful social media approaches realize the importance of slowing down before speeding up.

2. Grab Attention – getting noticed by our audience is vital to social media success. In an online world dominated with choices, we need to move away from the predictability. Too many organizations explain events or communicate information in the exact same way as was done fifty years before – title the event, share the details, expect a crowd. In the online world, this is not acceptable. Sparking the curiosity of our constituents must be done through innovative and audience centered videos and pictures that personally connect with and elicit an emotional response from our constituency. Think of the Maccabeats, Yeshiva University’s all-male a cappella group, whose fun, entertaining and unexpected song “Candlelight” became an instant Youtube sensation and now has almost 6 million views. While by no means the same number of hits, this video from Temple Israel exceeded expectations, generated excitement, and started many conversations about the event.

3. Engage – emotionally invest the community in the organization. One of the best lines of the book is that “to engage, it’s necessary to view yourself (and your effort) as a brand.” In order to do this, we need to tell our stories, which help to define and to build our constituency’s collective memories thus connecting them more deeply to the mission of and take action for the institution. Answering questions such as what inspires the community, what makes an institutional experience meaningful, and why Jews would want to connect with us gears the online conversation to the community and makes it personal. In promoting Temple Israel’s Sukkot and Simchat Torah experiences, we redefined them for the community where music became the center. We ran a fun promotional spot and an online giveaway for autographed CD’s of the artists via Facebook and Twitter. By rethinking the marketing, we have helped our community become more engaged and excited about the experience and the artists.

4. Take action – get the community to act upon your cause by giving their time, money or both. The most important take away here is to ask for time before money. Too many Jewish institutions consistently ask for money via membership, programs, events, dinners, etc. and never truly get people vested in the experience. In order to reverse this trend, it is imperative to actively seek and encourage volunteer participation. Even though individuals are involved with so many activities, we have to rethink how we invite people to volunteer. Instead of asking them to join time intensive committees, encourage them to work on smaller and tangible projects that value their individual talents, skills and interests. When a group then becomes invested in the organization, social media then becomes a tool for reaching a greater audience and receiving much needed feedback. As one experiments with social media to motivate the community, make it fun and, as our communications director, Isti Bardos, always states, make sure to respond to every message or post for that personal touch helps the audience feel they are actually having a dialogue rather than a monologue. dragonflyeffect The Dragonfly Effect provides the tools to captivate an online audience, and then inspire them to actively participate in social change. The examples and illustrations can help Jewish institutions more fully realize the potential of social media. By experimenting, having fun and continuing to evaluate results, these four wings can provide Jewish institutions a way to further engage Jews as our world proceeds to advance technologically. How are you addressing these four wings, and more importantly, how are you getting them to work in congruence with one another?

Rabbi Adam Grossman is the Associated Rabbi of Temple Israel of Memphis. Rabbi Grossman earned his Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2008, a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from The Ohio State University and a Master of Education Administration with a Specialization in Jewish Education from Xavier University. He is an active user of social media, and contributes to Temple Israel’s effective use of online social tools for engagement and building community.

We Will Do, And (Then) We Will Understand

Beth Kanter and Allison Fine accurately quip in “The Networked Nonprofit” that “social media is a contact sport.” You can’t expect to succeed without getting your hands dirty. As it happens, that’s just how the young nation of Israel agrees to learn the Torah – standing at Sinai, overwhelmed by the presence of the Divine, they collectively intone “na’aseh v’nishma” (Exodus 24:7 – what an appropriately enumerated verse). Loosely translated, “we will do, and (then) we will hear/understand.” Or, even more loosely translated, “first we will give this a try, then we’ll have some idea what it’s all about.” Israel agrees that the Torah is not an intellectual exercise, it is a lived experience.

“Na’aseh v’nishma” is your social media call to action. Knowing conceptually that it would be useful to connect with other people free of the constraints of time and space is an important step. But it can’t compare to, for instance, engaging your network on Facebook to help find the modern equivalent of “na’aseh v’nishma.”* Sensing that social media increases the likelihood of serendipity doesn’t hold a candle to finding your next job through Twitter. Believing that social media is a key part of your communications strategy is very different from putting that belief into action. But what about those who need to feel the ROI (or rather, ROE – return on engagement) before diving in? What about the “lo n’aaseh” (“we will not do”) folks? On the one hand, there are those who will take on this challenge only because they “have to.” A friend recently told me about a colleague in her office who, upon taking the job, was cajoled into creating a Facebook account for the first time. The position involved working heavily with teens, and the person he was replacing realized as he was ending his tenure that he had missed out on opportunities for engagement by avoiding social media – “Facebook” was the advice he passed on to his successor. The new colleague is seeing early signs of success, meeting the teens in their own space, in their own language. Another friend had a similar experience:

alisonfbquote On the other hand, there are those for whom working in social media may never feel like the right fit. It may move too frenetically, require too many technical proficiencies, feel too exposing or time consuming, or any number of things. At the same time, social media is becoming part of the vernacular of our culture. Even the most reluctant of us may have to reexamine our practice in light of new ways of working. This is a familiar story to some:

Ultimately, you can’t really “get” social media without saying “na’aseh v’nishma” and engaging it as a contact sport. Facing reluctance is tough – there are always reasons not to do anything! So if you’re working on a co-worker, easing them into working with and through social technologies, it would be useful to have the following things in mind:

  1. Have a plan and a goal. Pick one thing, something that requires little effort, but can reap big rewards. Choose an internal project to work on in a Facebook group instead of over email, or tweet out questions during conference calls to solicit input from your organization’s followers and fans instead of (or as part of) a newsletter. Talk about both how things change, and what that means for your work.
  2. Blend online and on-land experiences. Reference Facebook in phone calls, share a great question from an email conversation on LinkedIn, bring digital spaces into your in-person conversations. These online spaces are not something “other,” they are powerful connective tools that can weave worlds – and people – together.
  3. Once you get started, remember that these things take time. Look for the bright spots, the places where your colleague is having success (or learning to redefine success). Focus on those, and encourage growth from there.

With social media, as with so many things, the understanding is in the doing. Admittedly, this is no easy task. Success in social media does take an investment of time, energy, thought…much like any meaningful human relationship. But this is how we learn. We do, and we do again. And then we understand. What was your “na’aseh v’nishma” moment? When did the “doing” make all the difference? (Share your voice in the comments and one lucky commenter, chosen at random, will receive a free copy of the book “Switch”.)

*The modern equivalent of “na’aseh v’nishma” could arguably be found in cognitive psychology: “effort justification.” It’s a fancy way of saying that when we work at something, when we dig in and invest ourselves, we understand it better and appreciate it more. Hat tip to Jay Schreiber and Rabbi Josh Yuter for helping me out on that one.