Network Engagement Technical Work Group Gets Going!

Posted on June 25, 2014


Gail Leslie   NCDB Staff

You may remember that in our most recent grant proposal, NCDB identified Technical Work Groups (TWG’s) as one way to build deeper collaborations into our technical assistance work.  Four TWG’s were identified for this year: Intervener Services, College and Career Readiness, Promoting Family Engagement and Network Engagement.  As of June, each group has met at least once with plans for each to meet four times during this first year.   While each group has a slightly different intention, their collective efforts are designed to broaden the investment and impact of shared work. 

The Network Engagement TWG is tasked with making tangible the concept of a national deaf-blind technical assistance network and with communicating those developing concepts to the field.  This group has met twice and what follows in this post is a summary of themes and suggestions that surfaced in those meetings.

Define network collaboration and identify efforts that create sustainability.
The field has a strong history of collaboration but the vision of a national network involves refining how we think about those efforts. Collaboration should serve the vision for the work and be purposeful. Collaboration is one way to demonstrate a coordinated front for our efforts, making it easier to represent ourselves to a broader audience.
• Create a statement or identify examples that define collaboration for the DB TA Network.
• Identify measures that show impact of collective work and collaboration.
• Address the lack of evidence-based practices.

Identify mechanisms and tools that create awareness of efforts nationally and within states.
Projects are working on great things.  Organized information about grant activities for all states is needed. There is also a need for clarity and definition around product development, especially as an indicator of collaboration.
• Create an online tool that serves as a virtual reference for state project’s targeted goals and activities.  Create a template and use DB Summit to invite states to participate.
• Establish protocols and procedures for states around product development. Make clear the role of NCDB and the TACC product development database.
• Consider the role of the NCDB website and facilitate the use of the tools.
• Hold a series of ongoing drop in webinars to inform each other of ongoing work.

Create opportunities for building relationships.
Building connections with other staff in other projects is important. The opportunities to connect via topical meetings and regional meetings are missed. One day a year at DB Summit is not enough. Distance collaboration works well only if there are opportunities to also meet face to face. Technology presents new possibilities for sharing and has changed notions of geography, but let’s figure out what is important and not lose our way.
• DB Summit should offer opportunities to interact and the time together should be maximized by plans for follow up over the year.
• Create scheduled series of virtual meetings.
• Establish a process to mentor new project staff and to replace leadership within the field.
• Messaging about the activities of TWG’s should be public and consistent and should encourage feedback from the entire field.
• Disseminate the framework and best practices for online collaboration and engagement.

Thanks to the state deaf blind project personnel serving on this group.  They are: Megan Cote (KS),  Cassondra Galusier (LA), Diane Haynes (KY),  Heather Herbster (OH),  Katie Humes (WA),  Mellanie Lee (HI),  Tracy Luiselli (NEC),  Rose Moehring  (SD),  Chris Montgomery (TX),  Sam Morgan (NY),  Sherri Nelson (ND).  

The suggestions presented here represent initial thoughts given in response to prompts about what elements might help to improve our collective infrastructure.  You may recognize some of the TWG work in the plans for DB Summit in July. Currently the group is planning a face to face evening meeting during the PDM week in DC.  That meeting will be held on Tuesday evening, July 22nd, 6:30 to 8:00 pm in Maryland C.  We look forward to expanded input from across the network, both as comments here and at our in person meeting, as we continue to explore ideas. 

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