How stay in touch – and how to spread the word? Two questions that kept us busy.
Internal communication in-between meetings
In such a large Partnership, whose actors are spread out across Europe, how to organise communication in between personal meetings is a crucial question.
Being part of a global sustainability movement, there were some ethical concerns whether to use (and thus support) free services from big global corporations (like Google). We did test some other options but decided to stay with:
- Google Drive – document editing and sharing with different levels of access and editing
- Google Groups – multiple mailing groups for project workgroups (using delivery settings depending on the level of involvement) and for the whole EPT-Partnership
- Google Forms – for surveys on a variety of topics
- Doodle – finding optimal meeting times
- Skype – regular online meetings in between physical meetings
The EPT is designed to support permaculture teaching across Europe so we kept access to Partnership documents and mailing groups open. Anyone could follow simple instructions of Welcome document to join and follow the Partnership activities.
During the meetings, we also used the online classroom service WizIQ to broadcast some sessions of the European Permaculture Convergence 2012 and of the Kick-off meeting of the Partnership. The process turned out to be technically demanding and difficult to integrate in the interactive nature of our meetings, which developed into working a lot in small groups and very little in the big group of all meeting participants. Later in the process, we used Skype and Google Hangout during physical meetings for online sessions with those that could not participate live.
Internal Wiki (TikiWiki)
In 2013, we experimented using the wiki format to gather data for the Teacher’s Handbook (Leeds meeting). This proved to be too complex and didn’t fit the way the EPT participants worked. E.g.: it proved very difficult to capture course preparations in documents and meta data required by the Wiki structure model. Many permaculturists have little affinity with ICT and using a Wiki was simply a bridge too far. Instead the WordPress blog was extended to include the project’s publications as a community driven publication (see below) providing a simple enough interface for our target group and complex enough for capturing the knowledge and skills in permaculture education.
Survey (Lime Survey)
Lime Survey was used to enable collection of data for a survey on which subjects are being taught in which kind of course formats, and for other experiments. This tool proved to be too complicated for our users at this time.
Communicating to the outside
permateachers.eu: Public web site
This WordPress web site was set up early on to inform the public about the EPT Partnership and to present the results of the process (Teacher’s Handbook, Educational Structures and Best Practice booklets). WordPress is highly extendable and can be developed to support internal/public networking with social media tools. We experimented with those, but the results didn’t warrant deployment at this time.
At the 5th EPT-meeting in Barcelona (ES) it was decided to use the web site as the main publication and distribution medium for the EPT products: handbook and booklets – as a living medium, rather than static printed or PDF-publications. This concept was further developed at the 6th EPT-meeting in Friland (DK). We named the system COMPOST (Collection of Materials about Permaculture in Order to Support Teachers).
All participants were given an author’s account to contribute their own text and media. Video is stored externally and embedded as posts. All content is available in English, with translations available for many posts.
We have a team of editors and administrators to assist the authors.
We chose to use Open Source software for our web sites as a matter of principle. Unless otherwise stated all website content is distributed under the Creative Commons License Attribution – Share Alike 4.0 (BY-SA). Wherever possible translations of the website content to other languages than English are made available.
The EPT newsletter started as an alternative communication platform to Google groups. The idea was to inform EPT-participants in between meetings to keep up motivation and work. After the first two issues, it became evident that there was an interest in using the newsletter to communicate European wide about the Partnership, and also to inform about educational and structural developments within the national organisations and the European permaculture network. The EPT newsletter now has subscribers worldwide and will continue as a media to service the growing Permaculture teachers’ network in Europe and beyond.
You can subscribe to the EPT-Newsletter here.
We created a pdf-brochure which gives an overview of the EPT-project and provides all the important links. You will soon find this brochure for download in a number of languages on the main page of this website.