As SNC’s Director of Grant Development I often find myself in the position of teaching the teachers; that is, instructing our faculty (or staff) who are incredibly knowledgeable in their areas of expertise on my area of expertise: finding grant opportunities and developing and submitting grant proposals.  The vast majority of faculty and staff whom I work with are extremely respectful and appreciative of my expertise but it can still be a little uncomfortable for me to be in the role of teacher.  Consequently our interactions tend to be pretty traditional; emails back and forth, occasional phone calls (please no), docs sent back and forth as updates are made and lots of face to face meetings.  Generally these tools are effective but can they be improved upon?  Can I follow the lead of teachers actively engaged in digital pedagogy and thus improve on the services I offer?

To date the digital tools that I have made use of as part of my pedagogy have been minimal and fairly rudimentary.  I (try to) maintain a website that provides useful information but acknowledge that it’s generally underused.  Google docs is an incredible tool for collaborating on proposals.  It definitely beats the (bad) old days of sending drafts back and forth and inevitably losing track of which is the most up to date.  Not to mention the embarrassment of inadvertently submitting a draft to a grantor instead of the final.  We have occasionally done video calls with funders and collaborators but these are infrequent.

I am fortunate to be able to work from home two days per week.  In general this has no negative impact on my ability to do my job but I want to take this (and what I’ve learned from participating in DigPINS) as an opportunity to think outside of the (small, narrow) box about how I might make use of the digital tools available both as a teacher and as a learner.  As of now here is what I’ve come up with:

  • follow (grant) funders on Twitter
  • follow other research development professionals
  • Tweet about grant opportunities
  • utilize Slack when developing grant proposals
  • consider when I should and should not embed links in the notes I share with faculty and staff working on a grant.  Are they serving my purpose or simply muddying the waters?
  • consider blogging about my field
  • don’t fear digital tools just because they’re new and outside my comfort zone

What are you doing that’s working for you?  As a current or potential grant seeker what digital tools would you find helpful?

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