PF Whiteboard

Tips from an Instructional Designer

As you know we’re piloting a new class at BYU, one that we hope at some point soon we will adapt and deliver online for anyone to take. As part of this process we solicited the assistance of an instructional design professional. She had great tips and considerations for teaching from a distance and developing online content. We figured we’d share a few of them, for anyone else who might find them useful:

- Avoid delivering information via more than two sources at any time. Try to minimise diluting the attention focus of your viewers by only having two methods of information delivery at once, eg voiceover + whiteboarding (other sources of info would be slides, video of the speaker, photos, etc..).
- Always start by showing the person speaking, even if it is only a picture, before cutting to other visuals that they may be talking over. Having a mental picture of the person speaking makes continued engagement with the information easier to maintain.
- Don’t feel like you have to create a whole new discussion community for students to contribute to, solely focused on the class. A great alternative, which potentially provides more value, is to encourage the students to listen in on and join existing communities already focused on class topics. This way their learning and participation is more likely to continue beyond the limitations and duration of the class.
- Encourage students to solve each other’s queries, before coming to the instructor or teaching assistant. Better for the learning process, and better for time management for larger classes. This can be done through an online forum or wiki.
- Create 1 minute videos with screen-share recordings to demonstrate how to navigate the syllabus, find resources, use any tech platforms necessary. Break everything down. Model everything.

We’re still incorporating a lot of the advice we got yesterday. Hopefully some of it is useful for others out there.

Information Smorgasbord

Thanks to the internet (and google) we have almost endless information and resources at our fingertips.  We can access the life work, groundbreaking ideas, and carefully developed resources of experts in any imaginable field with a few strokes of the keyboard.  So why shouldn’t we?  It seems to me that in this age of information there is absolutely no excuse for reinventing the wheel.  There is just no sense in wasting time and energy re-doing something someone much smarter than us has already done. 

We’ve mentioned before that we’ve recently developed a social innovation curriculum at the PF - something none of us have ever done before.  We have an idea, and we think it’s a good one, but to really make it useful we’ve found it’s best to borrow wherever possible (as long as we have all of the appropriate rights and permissions, that is).  For each lesson we’ve pulled articles, videos, and frameworks from across the web and our networks.  We think this makes our curriculum much, much stronger.  We may know that it’s important for our students to understand root cause analysis, for example, but we also know that someone else has far superior tools to actually teach it to them.

Throughout this process we’ve been pleased to find that everyone we have asked has been more than happy to share their resources and expertise (and we’ve asked a lot of people).  It just doesn’t make sense not to.  Especially in the context of the social sector—we all have the same vision and should help each other achieve success wherever possible. 

So here’s our vote for more sharing, more borrowing, and much less reinventing.


We’ve been heads down for a number of months creating a social innovation syllabus. After weeks of white-boarding, scribbling and sketching, revising documents, review sessions and feedback calls, we pressed print.

Our class, ‘Do Good Better’, provides a structure for students to:
1) discover the varied roles they can play in the social innovation sphere,
2) learn about 3 key skills useful in all roles they might be interested in: root cause analysis, solution evaluation, and impact measurement,
3) create a 20yr, 5yr, and next-semester plan for their own unique contribution to their community (as they define it).

We’re insanely excited and slightly nervous. This is the first time LanĂ©e and I have ever done anything like this, but we found ourselves creating the class we wish we could have taken. We quickly realised that the 14 week class would need an accompanying workbook, so we set about creating that too. 74 pages later, ‘Do Good Better: The Guide’, just got back from the printers. A tangible product of our work this summer! The Guide is complemented by a Pinterest board of homework and resources, and the students will be blogging some of their developing ideas around social innovation on this Wordpress blog.

We have finished our preparation and we’ll start our small pilot class at BYU in a week and a half. Once it gets in the students’ hands the editing will begin again as we test and refine the content and delivery. So really we’ve only just started.

Salesforce Update

At the end of last year we published a blog post declaring our plans to do a second major re-configuration of our Salesforce platform.  8 months later we are proud to declare that the project is done and Salesforce is running smoothly (or at least, as smoothly as one could expect it to).  I thought I would write a little update for those of you who are also wrestling with the benevolent beast that is Salesforce; perhaps our experience will be useful. 

Here’s what Salesforce does for us:
- Tracks all of our investments
- Stores our contacts and relationships (including interactions and connections between members of our network)
- Generates reports and visuals of our data
- Tracks value added and leveraged funds for each of our partners
- Tracks milestones and metrics from our partners
- Schedules check-ins and grants due

Here’s what we recommend to others (if customizing SF):
- Hire a great consultant who wants to understand your organization and goals - it makes all the difference
- Take the time to really figure out what it is you want from the platform before you begin
- If what you thought you wanted doesn’t work, throw it out immediately and start over
- Try using Salesforce for things you didn’t think you needed it to do - the possibilities are almost limitless and you’ll likely discover value you didn’t know was there
- Test out a few apps, that’s what free trials are for
- Find out how other organizations are using Salesforce

Oprah (with a beard) for the Social Sector

A few months back I fed myself to the lions. I sat opposite the tenacious Jonathan Lewis, as he put me in the iOnPoverty hot seat, and fired questions at me under the glare of studio lights and flash of cameras. It turned out to be an enjoyable opportunity to think about and begin to articulate what had prepared me for my current role at the PF, things I’m learning about philanthropy, and my developing ideas about social entrepreneurship/social innovation.

I’d highly recommend checking out the other interviewee videos. Jonathan is building a resource full of diverse perspectives, experience and advice. For budding changemakers iOnPoverty is a platform for social innovation mentorship soundbites. There are some sage pieces of wisdom -actionable too- from Anne Marie Burgoyne from Draper Richards Kaplan, Akaya Windwood from the Rockwood Leadership Institute and many others. And it’s free for all viewers now! Enjoy!

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