Joomla! Day West 2010

Event Date(s): 
October 2, 2010 to October 3, 2010

We continued our collaborative love affair with the Joomla! Project at Joomla! Day West 2010, held at eBay Town Hall.

The event focused on building knowledge about Joomla!, a GPL-licensed content management system which is proving increasingly popular for publishing nonprofit web sites.

The event brought together members of the Joomla! Leadership Teams, and board members from Open Source Matters, along with over 150 members of the Joomla! community to talk about all things Joomla!, including the upcoming 1.6 release, template and extension design, business models, and plenty of participant-driven sessions. Aspiration employed our collaborative event methodology to drive a fast-paced agenda focused on knowledge sharing, interactivity and community building.

We also had the pleasure of facilitating Product Leadership Team meetings before and after the event. Thanks to the whole amazing Joomla! posse for inviting us along for the fun.

Open Subtitles Design Summit

Event Date(s): 
September 29, 2010 to September 30, 2010

Open Plans was the host with the most as we partnered with the Participatory Culture Foundation to convene the first-ever Open Subtitles Design Summit at the Open Plans penthouse meeting space in New York City.

Held as part of the Universal Subtitles project, the event brought together a broad array of people passionate about making video subtitling technologies more open and accessible. Outcomes included a Quality Manifesto and an inventory of subtitle formats. The event wiki chronicled the proceedings, and those interested in following the project can join the Event and Best Practices discussion lists as participants follow up on the 30-day and 12-month plans generated at the Summit.

It was an honor and a pleasure to collaborate with the fine folks at PCF, who summarized the outcomes in a fine blog post. We really salute their leadership and vision in building a broad-based coalition of stakeholders to move the open subtitles field forward. The event was generously supported the Open Society Institute.


Event Date(s): 
September 24, 2010 to September 26, 2010

In the latest chapter of our ongoing collaboration with the United States Institute of Peace, we traveled to DC to run the first-ever Open Simulation Platform Conference.

The Open Simulation Platform is a new and state-of-the-art open source learning platform for teaching conflict resolution. Based on an interactive role-playing paradigm, the platform lets instructors author multi-user role-playing simulations and then run them in synchronous or asynchronous learning environments. This disruptive technology will provide an open alternative to expensive and proprietary simulation tools which have historically been the norm in the field.

The event was structured as a simulation authoring sprint, with a dozen sims created over the course of 3 fun and collaborative days of work.

We had a blast collaborating with USIP, Partners for Democratic Change and Positive Relating to pull the event together. And we look forward to OSPCon II in 2011!

P2PU Open Assessment Workshop

Event Date(s): 
September 20, 2010 to September 21, 2010

In the fertile foothills of Palo Alto, California, we enjoyed the opportunity to partner with Peer 2 Peer University and host their first-ever Open Assessment Workshop, an intimate meeting of educators on the leading edge of open assessment.

The workshop focused on how P2PU and other innovators in online education could best apply learnings from various models for assessment and reputation modeling in order to certify learners in P2PU online courses and other virtual learning domains. Event proceedings were captured on the wiki, and a mailing list was established for ongoing collaboration.

The event was generously hosted by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching at their headquarters. We look forward to working further with P2PU in Barcelona at their annual meeting as well as at the Mozilla Drumbeat Festival.

LearnPhilanthropy Symposium

Event Date(s): 
July 28, 2010 to July 29, 2010

The LearnPhilanthropy Symposium brought together invited leaders from across the country who represent the stakeholder organizations in grantmaker education and learning, ranging from the learners themselves to those who develop, provide, present, or invest in grantmaker education.

We were excited to be part of the amazing team that planned and facilitated the event.

The LearnPhilanthropy Initiative is bringing people together to create a stronger, more rational, and less fragmented system for grantmaker learning than exists today -- one that builds a new culture of professional development in the field, works better for the individual learners involved in philanthropy, and better for the many groups and organizations that provide learning programs and resources. Aspiration is providing technology leadership as the project continues into its second phase.

Crisis Congress

Event Date(s): 
July 15, 2010 to July 16, 2010

We journeyed to the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC to design and drive the agenda for the 2010 Crisis Congress. Aspiration's travel and participation supported by the generosity of Mozilla as a part of their Drumbeat initiative.

The first-ever face-to-face meeting of all the city leads in the Crisis Commons community was a high-energy opportunity for an international network of crisis response practitioners to convene in person for the first time. Topics ranged from assessing the responses to the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, to discussing collaborative technology development, open standards, volunteer engagement and project sustainability. Participant travel to The Congress was supported by the generosity of the The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Aspiration also designed and facilitated three focus groups on the day before the Congress at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, engaging peer NGOs, representatives from the private sector, and academia to discuss both how better to employ these stakeholders in crisis response, as well as how Crisis Commons could better support the efforts of those networks.

Event proceedings were streamed live, and notes were captured on the Crisis Commons wiki. Thanks to Mozilla and Crisis Commons for a great time in DC!

Drumbeat Sao Paulo

Event Date(s): 
June 11, 2010 to June 12, 2010

Building on the event model developed at Drumbeat Berlin and Drumbeat Toronto, we headed south to Sao Paulo, epicenter to a rising and internationalist digital culture full of optimism and energy, to partake of the building Mozilla Drumbeat momentum in Brazil.

Partnering with Casa da Cultura Digital, we co-designed and delivered a full-day training for 30 Drumbeat Local organizers in Brazil, followed the next day by Drumbeat Sao Paulo. Both events were facilitated in Portuguese, with translation handled masterfully by our local partners.

Many thanks to our local hosts for incredible hospitality and collaborative fun!

Drumbeat Toronto

Event Date(s): 
April 24, 2010

Aspiration was delighted to kick off our Drumbeat Local Event partnership with Mozilla at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto. Drumbeat is Mozilla's initiative to keep the web open for the next 100 years and beyond, and local events around the world are a core component of the strategy.

Check out the excellent video and pictures from the event.

Drumbeat Toronto was an open invitation to get involved targeted at teachers, artists, lawyers, filmmakers and other everyday internet users who can do things that will make the web better, and keep it open for the long haul.

Online, Drumbeat is catalyzing new open web projects that address critical needs and make the Web healthier. Check out current projects or initiate your own at

Like all Aspiration-led events, Drumbeat Toronto was active and participatory, with a focus on exploring things participants can actually do today to keep the web open. It was also an opportunity to weave together local networks of creative, web-loving people and to share their exciting local work with the global Drumbeat community.

Mozilla Jetpack for Learning Design Camp

Event Date(s): 
March 10, 2010 to March 12, 2010

Aspiration traveled to Austin to run a 3-day Design Camp that culminated Mozilla's Jetpack for Learning Design Challenge. Ten projects from the Challenge were invited to the Camp, which took place prior to South By Southwest Interactive 2010. Aspiration designed and led the event in partnership with Mozilla, along with Philipp Schmidt, Jetpack for Learning (JFL) Coordinator, and Brian King and Andy Edmonds, JFL Course Leads.

The camp brought together developers, designers, and educators who are connecting the best ideas from open education with the coolest new open internet technologies. Design Challenge prototypes were finalized with support from the course leaders, and additional agenda time was spent discussing and working toward a shared vision for social learning in the open web. Selection and announcement of ultimate Design Challenge winner took place during Mozilla's SXSW Interactive event.

In addition to enhancing the ten great Jetpack for Learning projects, the Design Camp had several additional objectives:

  • Strengthen the community of practice among practitioners working in the Jetpack for Learning space;
  • Engage in visioning and collaboration around the future of open web technologies in the context of education;
  • Address participant questions and learning needs regarding all aspects of Jetpack and Firefox development.

Check out the draft Design Camp Agenda as well as the Jetpack for Learning Design Challenge home page. Also see event coverage on the MacArthur Spotlight blog.

Managing Nonprofit Technology Projects - Washington DC 2010

Event Date(s): 
February 8, 2010 to February 9, 2010

Thanks to all the folks whose positive attitudes contributed to a very fun and productive MNTP DC 2010 in spite of the winter madness. And apologies for craziness beyond our control to all of you who were unable to get in for the event. Also, big thanks to Community IT Innovators (CITI) for hosting the event when our original venue was forced to close.

Event Overview

After a very successful DC debut in July 2009, Aspiration and Community IT Innovators (CITI) hosted the fourth Nonprofit Technology Project Management event in Washington DC on the 8th and 9th of February, 2010.

Managing Nonprofit Technology Projects (MNTP) examined the tools and best practices that help nonprofits deliver successful technology solutions - whether it be websites, packaged software implementations, or custom applications.

Feel free to join the event on Facebook and continue the conversation.

Check out the agenda and the list of excellent facilitators.

Interactive sessions and demos allowed participants to compare processes, tools, successes, and lessons learned. Discussion topics included team collaboration, project planning, software selection, migration, and project rollout, and mapping out software tools – from project management packages to collaborative communication to issue tracking and more – that support successful technology projects.

Feel free to join the MNTP discussion list, which we use to continue the collaboration.

Aspiration’s skill in facilitating practitioner knowledge combined with CITI's experience in managing nonprofit technology projects contributed to an informal, collaborative, and information-rich event.

What Are They Saying?

The feedback from our previous MNTP events was roundly enthusiastic. Just a few of the comments from participants:

  • "The event was very energizing, and renewed my enthusiasm for tackling some complex issues"
  • "This gathering will inform everything I do in IT from here on."
  • "I used to be super intimidated - now I feel more empowered about what I do know and how to find answers to what I don't"
  • "It was a fun, casual, open, responsive learning environment for non-techies"
  • "I learned that I'm not alone, and I can learn from a rich community of people facing similar challenges"
  • "I was impressed with all that happened - it was amazing"

What were the Goals?

MNTP DC had three primary goals:

  • To strengthen the community of practice among those who identify themselves as nonprofit technology project managers
  • To enhance the knowledge and capacity of technology project managers within a rich, sharing environment
  • To map out the range of tools and best practices being employed in nonprofit technology project management

Participants exchanged project management tools and techniques that they can apply to the management of many projects, and discuss project management processes – from project initiation to project planning, project execution, monitoring and control, to project closure – in the context of stories and experiences. Participants also inventoried resources and best practices for nonprofit IT project management, ranging from templates to trainings, and shared useful software packages as they are used in actual nonprofits.

Significant time was spent discussing appropriate practices and processes for defining requirements in nonprofit software projects to inform the "build, buy, or rent" decisions that vex nonprofit technology managers on a regular basis.

Who Came?

MNTP focused on the growing community of nonprofit technology project managers, aiming to provide support to those practicing as project managers, while also recruiting and offering support to those new to (or bewildered by) this craft, and creating a space for the “accidental project managers” to share their stories, discover their allies, and grow into more “intentional” project managers. A significant part of the event was built around mentoring relationships; experienced individuals with knowledge and stories to share collaborated with participants who wanted to learn more.


p>Participants were encouraged to bring real-world projects to MNTP, and vet them with some real-time project management, coaching, and assessment.

What was on the Agenda?

The agenda was designed specifically to ensure participants interact with and learn from each other, while also providing solid grounding in essential topics. The following workshops were included in the proceedings:

  • Nonprofit Technology Project Management 101: For those who self-identify as new to the discipline, this session provided an overview of nonprofit technology project management. Essential topics, truths, and tools were presented, with the second half of the session employing a question-driven format.
  • Anatomy of a Well-Managed Technology Project: Drawing from case studies good, bad and ugly, this session focused on key aspects of successful project management. The primary take-away was guidelines on how project managers can maintain control of their projects.
  • Designing and Redesigning Web Sites: Any nonprofit that has published a web site understands the frustrating nature of the process. This session considered how best to take on the task of casting organizational identity on the web while also serving target audiences and delivering value to web visitors accordingly.
  • What Should a Web Site Cost? One of the most vexing questions in any project is “what are appropriate costs for technology and labor?” This session utilized anecdotal data and participant input to explore costing for different types of web sites, from simple “brochure-ware” sites to custom, database-backed applications and points in between.
  • Mapping Communication Tools to Tasks: There are a range of ways to collaborate with partners and stakeholders in any project. But which tools work best for which types of collaboration? This session will sort out appropriate times to employ email, instant messaging and chat, wikis, phone calls, file sharing, forums and other tools.
  • Using Wikis for Effective Collaboration: Over the past several years, wikis have demonstrated their value as a key tool in certain project management processes. This session mapped out best practices and techniques for successfully utilizing wiki technology for project collaboration. Also discussed was when not to use wikis, and when more structured information sharing tools are advisable.
  • Managing Nonprofit Software Development Projects: While a best practice for nonprofits technologists is to try and utilize existing tools and services, there are invariably times when the appropriate tools and applications don’t exist. But software development is not a core competency of most nonprofits, and too often nonprofit software development efforts spiral out of control or end in less-than-complete realization of vision. This session will explore how best to get from concept to running code with out losing focus on mission.
  • Managing Consultants and Dealing with Vendors: This peer sharing workshop invited participants to compare their processes and tactics for managing critical project relationships that fall outside of organizational boundaries.
  • Horrific Tales of Miserable Project Management Failure: Nothing is more instructive than the mistakes of others. Participants will be invited to swap stories and cautionary tales of the many speed bumps, pot holes, and multi-vehicles pile-ups on the road to project management success.
  • A Whirlwind Discussion of Project Management Software Utilities: This fast-paced session allowed participants to share the various project management utilities available, including time tracking, task management, source code control, and more.
  • Software Share: Basecamp, MS Project, DreamTeam and more – Nonprofit practitioners provided a variety of 10-15 minute software demos to allow participants to see the packages in real-life situations and compare the strengths and weaknesses.

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