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TECH TIPS
with Scott Merrill

Learn tips and hints to use a variety of electronic and technical equipment to enhance work with volunteers.

~ March 2005 ~ Topics


Three Sites I Can't Live Without

The Internet makes me smarter than I normally am, and I've grown increasingly accustomed to turning to the Internet to help me solve problems, rather than more traditional off-line avenues.

I think by now most people appreciate the Google search engine. It's my first stop whenever I need to find information. I also use Google when trying to find out information about a person (search Google for your own name, some time, or the name of your organization, to see what comes up). Google has become such a necessary part of my life online that I literally don't know how I'd get by without it. I use Google so often that I often put my search terms directly into the URL so that I get right to the results:

http://www.google.com/search?q=volunteering

Google has a lot of other features you may not know about:

http://www.google.com/help/features.html

The second website I can't live without is dictionary.com. I'm not the world's best speller, but proper spelling is important to me. A quick visit to dictionary.com ensures that I get right all those words with which I always struggle. As with Google, it's possible to access dictionary.com's results directly from the URL:

http://dictionary.com/search?q=appearantly

The third site I find myself using more and more is wikipedia.com, the free online collaborative encyclopedia. It has up-to-date, topical information about a great many subjects, and is a great starting point for in-depth on-line research. And of course, Wikipedia allows me to get to the content I'm looking for directly from the URL, saving me time:

http://www.wikipedia.com/Peace_Corps

The truly great thing about Wikipedia is that anyone can contribute to it, either by creating new pages or by editing existing pages. In addition, Wikipedia provides a space for "out-of-band" conversations about a particular issue without cluttering up the main entry area. For example, take a look at the entry for "Volunteer":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volunteer

At the top of the page is a link labeled"discussion", which contains some thoughts on how to better define "Volunteer":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Volunteer

Any one of you could edit the main Volunteer page with more information and links to other resources! Or you could ask a question in the Talk section to try to gain more clarity from other contributors. There's currently no entry for "Volunteer Management", so that might be a nice starting point if you're really interested in contributing.

If you do decide to contribute to Wikipedia, be sure to check out the guidelines for "Your First Article":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Your_first_article

and the Tutorial:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Tutorial


Plan an EDU-VACATION - April 26-29, 2005

Training for managers of volunteers, leading to a certificate, is being held April 26-29, 2005. Sponsored by Washington State University, the Volunteer Management Certificate Program will be held in Port Hadlock, Washington, in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains. Topics include:

Recruitment Evaluation
Training Management and Supervision
Recognition Risk Management
Diversifying the Volunteer Pool The Internet as the Manager's Next Best Friend

Interactive Case Models based on student process is the focus of Learning Activities.
For more information, visit the website at: http://www.emmps.wsu.edu/volunteer.

Scott Merrill is an information technology professional with demonstrated success in a variety of diverse environments, including healthcare, for-profit, and non-profit. He has participated in large-scale deployments for national and international corporations, and has successfully managed the introduction of a complete technology solution for a mid-sized nonprofit mental health facility. Scott lives in lovely Columbus, Ohio with his wife and twin daughters. He occasionally blogs his thoughts at http://skippy.net. You may reach him by email at skippy@skippy.net.

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