Talk:TAO/Working with Volunteer Instructors: Best Practices

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Latest comment: 12 years ago by Beat Estermann in topic Feedback 2nd round
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Target group of the module: volunteer instructors of new media courses for older people[edit source]

Volunteers in a nutshell

It is extremely difficult to define the broad group of “volunteers”, as they take up such varied roles, have varied backgrounds and skills and can not be considered to be a homogeneous group (Bussel, H. & Forbes, D., 2002; p4). However, a volunteer can be described as someone who engages in “any activity in which time is given freely to benefit another person, group or cause. Volunteering is part of a cluster of helping behaviors, entailing more commitment than spontaneous assistance but narrower in scope than the care provided to family and friends" (Wilson, 2000, p. 215). Volunteers commit “time and energy for the benefit of society and the community; the environment; or individuals outside one's own immediate family”. They do this “freely and by choice, without concern for financial gain" (The Volunteering Unit, 1995, p. 3 zit. nach Wardell, Lishman & Whalley, 2000, p. 229).

Volunteer work is

(1) productive work that requires human capital,

(2) collective behavior that requires social capital,

(3) ethically guided work that requires cultural capital" (Wilson & Musick, 1997, p. 694).

Volunteer instructors in TAO: Example from Freie Fahrt ins Internet

Within the TAO-context, the volunteers are often older persons themselves. In the Swiss “Freie Fahrt ins Internet”-courses for instance, most instructors are above 60 years old. Every course has one instructor, who not only develops the course and accompanying hand-outs, but also presents the course in front of the class. The course instructor is supported by two assistants who function as a soundboard in the course development phase, help the leader during the course itself, and guide the participants with practical advice.

Link to Persona Marianne, a persona of the volunteer instructor for new media classes for older people

Viability of the module: Feedback & Motivations[edit source]

Feedback is needed

This module could be based on the broad relevant documentation that is available within TAO; e.g.:

• lessons learned from the volunteer instructors of Freie Fahrt ins Internet

• interviews with volunteers instructors

• evaluation of the voluntary courses

Furthermore, the module would benefit from continuous feedback from other volunteer instructors (from the TAO Community of Practice) and from the community partners from TAO (e.g. from courses from Silberwissen Germany or courses from Seniorweb The Netherlands). These volunteer instructors are able to add their experiences, and validate and expand the provided documentation.

Motivation to provide feedback

User communities act as a ‘helpline’ where members reach out to each other in an effort to help one another. Members could for example post answers and questions back and forth, test out and comment on each other’s guidelines, but also report a problem. When members share their ‘innovations’ (for free), others benefit from this and gain access to ‘fresh’ and ‘novel’ content or features (Jeppesen & Frederiksen, 2006).

The idea of sharing innovations leads to the notion of ‘free-revealing’ of information, which can be defined as giving access to all interested parties, without expectation of financial compensation (Harhoff, et al., 2003). The question that arises is: what drives users to share? Franke and Shah (2003) suggest the following five motivations (the first four based on Harhoff, et al, 2003): Community members like to …

1 ... improve others

2 ... set standards

3 ... reveal for free - in non-competitive conditions

4 ... be recognised

5 ... feel satisfied

Feedback 2nd round[edit source]

Hi Karen, Thanks for further elaborating on your module. It has become clearer to me in what direction you are heading. Regarding the next steps it might be helpful to:

  • Rename the module into something like "Being a Volunteer Instructor" or "Tips for Volunteer Instructors" ("Working with Volunteer Instructors" could be another module, aimed at a different target group)
  • Further work on the persona to show how Marianne is going to engage with the module that you are going to develop (is she just reading information? is she exchanging with peers? (online or offline?) what are here language preferences? etc.)
  • If there is some interaction meant to happen between the users of the module: Develop one or two more personas to give a feel of how Marianne is going to profit from the exchange with Fredi and Heidi - two other users of the module. Describe use scenarios for each of the persona.
  • Based on the personas and use scenarios: define a couple of test cases with module increments and "real" users; get feedback from "real" users.

--Beat Estermann (talk) 10:36, 6 March 2012 (UTC)Reply