Sage Lichtenwalner
Data Translator
Lisa Taylor
Research Associate
Romy Pizziconi
National Network Assistant
Excellence in Networking Tools Sub-Group

In July 2009, the WWG agreed to initiate the “Excellence in Networking Tools Sub-Working Group” (ENTS-WG or “ENTS”). The ENTS acts as a vehicle for ongoing dialogue regarding the uses, development and implementation of social networking tools. The ENTS charter is: “Explore new ways to broaden the reach of COSEE by using social networking tools to increase internal / external collaboration, communication, and exposure.”

Carla Companion (COSEE-OS) and Catherine Cramer (NCO) currently serve as co-Chairs of ENTS. The ENTS reports to the Council through the Chair of the Web Working Group (A. deCharon).

The main topics addressed by the ENTS have been:

  • Strategies for, support and development of networking tools across COSEE
  • Discussion of effective practices, standards or guidelines for COSEE blogs and other networking tools
  • Creation of resources for COSEE centers to use as references, guidelines or to increase networking literacy
  • Evaluation of the merits and appropriate use of various tools
  • Evaluation and documentation of the development and/or success in the use of these tools

Three primary products have been created through ENTS efforts:

  • The Online Tools Guidebook, a resource for the network on web technology
  • Tools that Work, a new section for technology related success stories and case studies in COSEE Network News (CNN)
  • A webinar series that gives network members an opportunity for training

Online Tools Guidebook

Online tools guidebook
One key output of the ENTS is the Online Tools Guidebook. This wiki-based document was designed and created collaboratively during bi-weekly telecons. The purpose of the guidebook is to help COSEE Network members become familiar with a wide variety of online tools and choose the tools that best fit their needs. The wiki includes information about the relative benefits of choosing one software over the other (including cost, setup time, technical knowledge needed), categories describing the purposes these tools can have (such as promoting events, having online workshops, etc.) and “tips and tricks” added by ENTS and other COSEE Network members that have experience working with the tools. To aid the COSEE Network, there is also a list of centers that are currently using the tools at the bottom of each page - encouraging cross-center consultation and collaboration when implementing new tools and strategies.

Tools That Work

Stories about online technology that has been effectively used by Network members have also been integrated into a new feature in CNN called Tools That Work. These short case studies help to provide guidance for other centers looking to adopt similar tools, and each story includes lessons learned by the center when using the tool. This CNN feature has also expanded into network-level blog posts highlighting centers using tools and technology to accomplish their goals. Tools That Work is also found in Resources. Click here to read blogs authored by ENTS members about various tools.

Webinar Series on Tool Training

The Online Tools Guidebook is also serving as the basis for a series of training opportunities for the COSEE Network. Four webinars have been conducted in total. The first such webinar was held on 18-Feb-10 as a joint effort between the ENTS and the Professional Development Ad Hoc Committee and introduced the Professional Development group to the online guidebook, and addressed many general questions about networking tools.

The second online training (14-Jun-10) was opened up to the full Network and co-hosted by staff from COSEE NOW, Central Gulf of Mexico and West; this session covered the use of Elluminate, Moodle, Adobe Connect, and also video-based distance learning technology.

Other webinars have included blogging tools (including COSEE’s own newly-launched blogging feature through the network’s Content Management System) and evaluation instruments.