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Everyone loves to Google the answers to any question. And Wikipedia has a lot of good sources as well. But where else do you go to learn about the latest technology trends or get a grasp of the basics of IT or tech stuff for your nonprofit?
This is the topic of concern for a new article soon to be published by TechSoup about learning online. Do you attend a webinar? Take an online course? read up on a commercial site? Rely solely on Google?
Share your favorite sources for finding out about technology -- from figuring out that darn RSS feed stuff to learning high-level IT skills -- give us your top resources for improving your tech savvy online.
I'll reply to this thread once the new article is live.
Becky Wiegand is the Interactive Events Producer at TechSoup.org
@bajeckabean on Twitter
I subscribe to a number of email newsletters from TechTarget that are focused on what I want. I also get newsletters from Microsoft, WindowsNetworking.com, MSEchange.com, WindowsSecurity.com, and ISAServer.org. I also read the Microsoft Subnet site 2-3 times per week. Lastly I use Newsgator to read RSS feeds from about 75 tech sites.
====================================== Michael J. Webb Administrative Assistant/IT Administrator Platte River Whooping Crane Maintenance Trust, Inc. 6611 W. Whooping Crane Dr. Wood River, NE 68883 Office (308) 384-4633 x104 FAX (308) 384-7209 email Mike_Webb -at- WhoopingCrane.org www.whoopingcrane.org ======================================
Webinars/webcasts are very helpful. Microsoft has a pretty good selection of live and on-demand webcasts (but they are usually pretty specific to MS products)
I'm a big fan of blogs (podcasts are pretty popular too... a lot of people listen to them while they commute). Find some good ones and Google whatever you don't understand. It might not all be "basic" information, but (if nothing else) it'llincrease your overall understanding/body of knowledge.
I mostly follow programming blogs, so I really don't have many general IT examples. HorsePigCow and the now-abandoned Creating Passionate Users are great for community building and design. Beth Kanter is the queen of nonprofit social networking. Rands in Repose has great posts about managing programmers (and people in general)
... and, of course, the TechSoup forums are invaluable :)
I like to listen to a lot of podcasts. I drive a lot as a consultant, even though I can still remote into most of my clients' systems, some things just need to be done in person. So I like to use my driving time to learn. I learn the most from a couple podcasts from the TWiT network at twit.tv (Security Now and FLOSS Weekly). But I also listen to other podcasts that talk about current events (like Buzz Out Loud, Diggnation, TWiT). Anyone with a decent commute can turn that travel time into something more productive by finding good audio productions to listen to.
Thanks for sharing these great resources!
Adding to my original post, the new article is now live and can be seen here:
Learning About Technology Online
The article covers everything from using advanced search options to find things easier online, using wikis, webinars, online classes, eLearning, lists and forums, online tech magazines, blog, online conferences, and more. There are a breadth of great resources linked from the article so if you're looking to shine up your tech moxy, then this is a great place to start.
A companion article (also written by our very own Chris Peters), was published yesterday. This time, the focus is where to learn about technology OFFLINE.
Learning About Technology Offline
Do you have favorite courses you've taken? Or a magazine that's your go-to source for the latest on technology? Share it here!
My personal fav for keeping tabs on technology both online and off is reading PC World and PC Magazine. Both give me insight into what's happening overall in the world of tech, what new gadgets I can expect others on staff to want to start using, and great reviews of tools, hardware, software, and services. Even though they're both geared toward a more general audience, I find a lot of the info useful to me in the nonprofit world. And it satiates my cravings for new gadgets!
We are updating our articles on learning about technology online and offline, and we want to hear from you!
When you need to learn about a technology topic, where do you go to do it? What are your favorite sources for technology information? How do you keep up with technology trends and news? Do you have a favorite website for quick reference? Any books, magazines, or great online tutorials you rely on? What conferences do you attend? Are there podcasts or webinars you find especially useful?
Whether you get the information online or offline, we want to know what helps you learn about technology.
by Ariel Gilbert-Knight, Senior Content Manager, TechSoup
I like to look at what people in my professional network are looking at.
Tools like LinkedIn's news feeds and Del.cio.us are great for this.
I regularly follow at least 15-20 industry-specific websites and blogs. These resources provide coverage of latest news, industry trends and best practices in different areas.
Instead of me spending countless hours visiting each site one at a time, I have RSS feeds set up. This means all information is delivered to me automatically and conveniently on a daily basis.
Yann Toledano, Digital Marketing Strategist
Host, Web Building Forum, TechSoup.org
Thanks, Rog, for those great tips. I am also a big Delicious fan. I haven't used LinkedIn to keep track of industry reading before, but I remember a little buzz this past spring when it launched LinkedIn Today. ReadWriteWeb (which is one of the places that I go to learn about technology) recently asked if LinkedIn Today had avoided the YASNS syndrome — yet another social networking site. (Their verdict is that it has many pluses and is quite useful.)
In any case, welcome back to TechSoup and thanks for donating your brain! If you could also take the time to fill out your TechSoup profile, we'd be much obliged. Fleshed-out profiles help us build trust and credibility in the community. If you prefer to remain anonymous or pseudonymous, that is fine, and there are ways to fill out your profile accordingly. Please refer to this post for some tips on creating a terrific community profile.
Yann — thanks for sharing those tips, as well. What are some of the websites and blogs in your RSS feed? (Or is it your industry secret ?) And how do you view your RSS feeds? I use Google reader on and off, but would love to know what other readers folks use.
Michael DeLong | Online Community Manager
"When you need to learn about a technology topic, where do you go to do it?"
My first stop with trouble-shooting or wanting to learn something about a specific tech topic, I start with typing in some keywords into Google.com; I look for blogs and commentary more than official web sites. It's interesting how often TechSoup or NetSquared material comes up in the search... I also sometimes look on YouTube for an information video about whatever topic I am looking for.
"What are your favorite sources for technology information? How do you keep up with technology trends and news?"
I subscribe to get updates from ZDNet regarding FOSS - it's my best source for what's going on with FOSS and what might be useful in my work with nonprofits.
I also follow certain tags on Twitter - specifically, #nptech and #ICT4D - to get the latest news about tech, or even just some random piece of advice, that relates to nonprofits/NGOs and tech. The people and orgs I choose to follow on Twitter also keep me up-to-date. Twitter has become my preferred resource for finding out about trends and news over email newsletter - tweets point to blogs, articles, information about books, etc. of interest to me. I know more about what TechSoup is up to via Twitter than I do via, say, By the Cup.
I also read workforce.com, because a lot of the recommendations for working with employees, using tech, are adaptable for working with volunteers (unpaid staff).
I know a lot of volunteer managers who find out the latest trends in tech use via online discussion groups, such as UKVPMs or OzVPM, or newsletters by the Nonprofit Times or the Journal of Philanthropy. I read those as well - they rarely tell me something I don't already know, BUT, they show how much a trend is permeating the mainstream nonprofit/NGO world, so I read them regularly.
"What conferences do you attend?"
None recently - no funding! But I know a lot of nonprofits that still get their info on the latest re: tech via presentations at conferences. There's no one grand nonprofit conference - art museums have their own conferences, animal shelters have their own conferences, drug prevention programs have their own conferences, etc. Each of these conferences feature at least one workshop - if not an entire track - regarding tech use.
If I could attend a conference, I would attend SXSW - always a really interesting experience re: tech use.
TechSoup Community Forum Manager
Jayne - Thanks for the input. I actually just signed up for
several of the newsletters you mentioned to help keep on top of discussion
trends (so many discussions! so many trends!). Mostly I use Twitter socially
vs. keeping up with nonprofit and tech news, but I think you perfectly capture how useful Twitter can be. And it's definitely good to be reminded that
different conferences focused on specific areas will usually have technology
tracks as well. So many different ways to learn about technology - thanks for
all the great suggestions!
Ariel's comment reminds me of a related question I would like to throw out.
How much time do you generally spend on industry reading online? Do you consider it part of your work day or is it extracurricular? (Or both?)