Making Connections

It has been challenging throughout this course to make connections between everyone’s contributions and the context of my workplace, which is not classroom based. I’ve had to redefine terms such as ‘learners’, ‘classroom’, and ‘literacy’. There were numerous postings that impacted me and challenged the way I viewed the materials we’ve been studying over the past 13 weeks. However, the connections I’ve outlined below are meaningful to me in terms of my own journey, as it applies to my work in fundraising and the social profit, or not-for-profit, sector.

Both Postman’s notion of the costs and benefits, and gains and losses associated with emerging technologies (Neil Postman, Technopoly, 1992) as well as Innis’s opinion that “…sudden extensions of communications are reflected in cultural disturbances…” (ETEC 540 Prefatory Materials) resonated with me from the beginning of the course. The implications for both are wide reaching as it relates to fundraising. On the one hand, the implementation of information technologies for fundraising and communications can significantly increase an organization’s reach into the community. However, if it is unclear as to what the intended results are, the strategies behind using social media could be ineffective and have a negative impact in the long term.

Bolter writes about temporary versus permanent affiliations. (Bolter, 2001, p.204)
Temporary affiliations can be seen in an online learning environment such as this course. It is ideal for learning, coming together as a group to exchange ideas and expand communally. He goes on to explore the notion of forming and maintaining affiliations, (Bolter, 2001, p.204) which suggests a direct connection to the area of fundraising. Working within the mental health social profit sector, maintaining affiliations is about creating a permanent space focused not only on fundraising, but also on community outreach and developing a supportive space for individuals who struggle with mental health issues. It is critical to build a safe environment, one that encourages permanent membership.

Laura Bonnor’s post references Kress, who wrote, “The audience is no longer controlled by the author and the content is controlled by the interests of the reader”. (Kress, 2005) In determining how to create a safe, permanent online community for mental health, it’s important to strike the balance between having the ability to monitor and direct the quality of conversation while promoting open and authentic knowledge exchange.

In Barrie Carter’s post, “Making Connections – Know Students Left Behind” he writes that, “understanding technology is not so much about knowing how to use the hardware and the software as it is about knowing the purpose and the meaning behind the technology. Here, it is about expanding social networks, building social communities, and building knowledge.”

In designing a social media strategy for my Foundation, it simply wasn’t enough to use various tools merely for the sake of using them, or because other organizations were. We had to take a close look at our intended results as well as the potential gains and losses that could come from utilizing social media. For example, both a Twitter and a Facebook page must be kept current with relevant information. People must be encouraged to become permanent members, and this can only be achieved through a demonstration of ongoing, authentic engagement. The consequence of not carrying out an analysis before implementation would be a potential waste of time, money and credibility.

Ashley Ross made reference to Leo Burnett in her post titled “The Evolution of Advertising: From Papyrus to YouTube.” She stated, “What made Leo Burnett so successful was the innovative use of textual, audible and visual elements to capture the imagination and the emotions of the target demographic. It is these elements combined with the emergence of communication technologies that have allowed advertising to evolve into an entity that blends information, innovation and science to be the educator of new technology.”

There is a direct connection between advertising and fundraising where the goal of both is to draw attention to, and attract support for, a specific product or cause. The use of multimedia definitely impacts the ability to connect with people’s emotions, evoke responses and move them into action. Glenn Close’s “Bring Change 2 Mind” video on YouTube (included in my post on Technology) employed the use of the innovative textual, audible and visual elements that were inherent in Leo Burnett’s success.

Bolter states that “…the reflexive character of writing is emphasized: we write both to express, to discover, and to share who we are, and in a postmodern age our written identity is, like hypertext, dynamic, flexible, and contingent.” (Boter, 2001, p.190) Participating in this course has provided me with a greater understanding of how Web 2.0 is impacting the way we communicate and interact with the world around us. The study of the changing spaces of text and technology is one of great breadth and depth, and one that will continue for me well into the future. I have learned a great deal from this cohort about various applications and have been challenged intellectually when applying all that I’ve learned to the arena of fundraising.

Postman, N. (1992). Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. NewYork: Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, Inc.

Innis, Harold. (1951). The Bias of Communication. Toronto: U of Toronto. As quoted in Dobson, T., Lamb, B., & Miller, J. (2009). Prefatory Materials. Retrieved November 28, 2010 from:

Bolter, Jay David (2001). Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers

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1 Response to Making Connections

  1. Annette Smith says:

    I also work in the Not-for-Profit sector. I design online courses for social workers and mental health workers. Looking for a relevant way to incorporate social networking and online text into my work is also important for what I do. I struggle to create more permanent communities among our learners. I am really working at Twitter and FaceBook as both community building and advertising (we do have to sell courses!).

    I think I will also be continuing to look at the text technologies we have encountered in this course.


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