MON: Writing tips for report writers globally by means of a blended learning approach (Carol Waites)
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Dr Carol Waites
8 January 2016
This project consists of a weekly emailed writing tip by subscription, which links back to a website with the writing tip topics further developed on it. It is an open project suitable for any report writer globally.
Many United Nations staff members write reports daily and require support in their often solitary task. For 12 years I have been the only trainer in Geneva to support these writers and my services are in too high a demand to meet the needs. With technology and more limited resources, United Nations trainers are now asked by the General Assembly to design courses online or in blended solutions accessible to staff members globally. We should be more inclusive and efficient in our course offerings, combine our efforts across the duty stations and achieve this by 2017.
To bridge the gap, I have designed a website and email service with a weekly writing tip to whet writers’ appetites. This website and email subscription will also serve as a way to make contact with those in the field, to help old students and new ones alike and to broaden my reach to any writer. My theme is inclusion of staff globally, taking care to include those with disabilities too.
This presentation describes the project and the steps taken to bring it to fruition. It presents the challenges I encountered, and my efforts to make my website and service accessible to all.
Ensuring accessibility is the greatest challenge of all, as accessing technology in emerging countries will present difficulties. I will need to be flexible and creative to find solutions when faced with unexpected difficulties with clients located globally.
For the website, I selected weebly.com. It is accessible on computers, mobile and smart phones, and a tablet. This is important as many UN peacekeepers are located in Africa, which has some of the lowest fixed-broadband subscription rates in the world, and where mobile phones prevail and smart phones are entering the market. It also seems to support the features of accessibility for people with various disabilities.
First, I am basing my decision on what content to display by consulting the results of a needs survey I conducted. It will also inform my decision on how to display the content.
I will turn my manuals into webpages, using html instead of pdf. According to feedback, I should make the weekly tips short in order to entice busy people into signing up. They will have a link to the website, which can give more information for those interested.
Needs analysis and evaluation
As a networked practitioner, I carried out a needs survey and solicited feedback and informed my future clients through Twitter, Yammer, Unite Connections, my Facebook, a Facebook writers’ group, and through email mailings to old students, current students and to focal points in the United Nations. Any unexpected opportunities or challenges that arose as a result of my extensive networking will also be reported on.
Keywords: report writing, tips, email subscription, resources, United Nations, training, writing skills, website design, accessibility, inclusion, technology, mobile phones, emerging countries.
United Nations 69th Session of the General Assembly in August 2015
Here are quotes from the resolution adopted by the United Nations 69th Session of the General Assembly in August 2015 which support my project. Specifically,
‘Item 46. Requests the Secretary-General to continue the efforts to ensure that training opportunities in the six official languages are equally available to all staff; ‘
‘Item 56. … encourages … the Department of Field Support and the Office of Human Resources
Management of the Secretariat to continue to cooperate closely, from within existing
resources, to support the language learning needs of staff in the field, …’
It also states that: ‘Recognizing further … the importance of the capacity to communicate to the peoples of the world in their own languages, including in formats accessible to persons with disabilities.’
The main audience for this service is United Nations report writers globally, but I have adopted an open approach to broaden my reach.
UNITED NATIONS Sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly (A/69/L.86), 18 August 2015, Agenda item 122 on Multilingualism, item 46. [Online]. Available at <http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/69/324>
Dr Carol Waites
07:28 on 14 January 2016 (Edited 07:52 on 14 January 2016)
Technology and geographical considerations.
Factors to consider for technological access include geographical location, internet connection requirements, bandwidth, what device the clients will use - computers, cell phones or tablets (FAO, 2011, p.29, 54), and ensuring that the website is clear on a mobile device (Redish, 2012, pp.119-122). In emerging countries where Peacekeepers and Human Rights officers are mostly stationed, this is a significant factor.
According to Veselinovic and Clements (2015), most people in Africa use a mobile phone. Africa has a weak land-line infrastructure, which makes connecting through a desktop computer difficult. This research is further validated by PewGlobal.org, 2015 in Figure 10 below. ‘A median of 84% across the 32 nations (surveyed) own a cell phone, not far off from the U.S. figure of 90%.’
PewGlobal.org (March, 2015) Internet seen as positive influence on education but negative on morality in emerging and developing nations [Online]. Available at <http://www.pewglobal.org/2015/03/19/internet-seen-as-positive-influence-on-education-but-negative-influence-on-morality-in-emerging-and-developing-nations/technology-report-18/>
See embedded content below the tapescript and survey of needs for the visual depiction of the percentages. It is called 'Cell Phones Commonplace; Smartphone Ownership Varies'.
Dr Carol Waites
07:31 on 14 January 2016 (Edited 07:58 on 14 January 2016)
Here is the tapescript to accompany the poster:
Title: Writing tips for report writers globally.
Author: Carol Waites, United Nations Staff Development and Learning Section, Geneva. Project for H818 The networked practitioner, MAODE.
Image: Photo of me at a computer in a training room in Entebbe. Photo taken by colleague Jodi Nooyen using my mobile phone, Entebbe, October 2012 while conducting Training of Trainers in Writing Skills. Permission given to use it.
For 12 years I have conducted local workshops for Geneva staff in report writing skills. I gave one workshop in the field for peacekeepers in 2012. I realized their need was great and there was a lack of opportunities.
Image: Photo taken of a workshop being conducted at the United Nations in November 2015. It features my colleague, Fiona Munro, and two students are visible, permission given by all those who appear to have their photo on my slide.
Even locally many staff are excluded from our live workshops. They travel, run meetings, their supervisors are unsupportive and they are unable to attend. Wheelchair access to training rooms has also been a problem.
Reference to document online: UNITED NATIONS Sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly (A/69/L.86), 18 August 2015, Agenda item 122 on Multilingualism, item 46. [Online]. Available at <http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/69/324> (last accessed 08/11/15)
Image: Screenshots of the United Nations General Assembly document, where it
Requests the Secretary-General to continue the efforts to ensure that training opportunities in the six official languages are equally available to all staff.
Now, suddenly our mandate has changed.
With new technology, we are being asked:
We are requested to be more inclusive and equitable in our delivery.
Photo: Photo from Pixabay.com CC showing a multi-coloured globe of the world.
This should happen by 2017. For the next two years we are trying to meet these targets.
Challenges we are dealing with while going local to global include:
In the meantime, I would like to test out a project, the idea of which was conceived with my last groups of students.
Photo: Screenshot of my Weebly.com website with the title ‘Writing tips for professional writers’.Tools, resources, grammar and style. Sign up for writing tips.
On the slide: Project components.
I can use a website to place my writing tips and get people to sign up for a weekly email. These weekly tips will link back to more detailed pages for those that want more information.
It will be a good review for past students, and be a help to those starved of training and assistance.
With my network, I can reach far and wide in the field and fill in the training gap. I can offer more and more writing assistance in this way.
Photo: Screenshot of H818 2015 conference.
On the slide: OU H818 'The Networked Practitioner' Online Conference 2016
1. Show and tell of website and email service.
Please come J.
Come to my presentation in February 2016 at the H818 conference.
I will show you how my project is progressing.
Challenges I will address at the H818 conference:
Is my website and email service accessible?
Do I reach my objectives?
How networked am I?
Am I being inclusive?
What feedback am I getting?
I hope to see you there!!
End of the presentation.
Dr Carol Waites
07:38 on 14 January 2016
Survey of needs
Here is a link to the google form I used to survey the needs of a wide range of people.
I received 63 responses, among whom were responses from Human Rights officers in Guatemala, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Jamaica, Cambodia (as at 14/01/2016).
Here is a link to the detailed analytics of the survey, which will inform how I build my website and writing tips service.
Dr Carol Waites
07:52 on 14 January 2016 (Edited 07:59 on 14 January 2016)