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DISSEMINATION IN THE ELEVENTH YEAR OF ITS DECADE OF WORK


by Peter F. Seidman

Bakers have their dozen of thirteen goods and R&D centers--at least NCRVE--has its R&D decade of eleven years. As we enter this unique year of our decade of work, I believe an overview of what the Dissemination Program will be up to is in order.

NCRVE is a consortium comprised of research and development professionals at eight sites throughout the country. Headquarters are located at UC Berkeley. The Dissemination Program, situated in the headquarters offices, is responsible for publishing the research results from all Center sites and programs; running a brokering service; maintaining nationwide electronic services; and marketing both Center publications and the Center itself.

The Dissemination Program is, in short, an integral part of the Center's infrastructure. It accomplishes its tasks by striking a balance between user-driven responsiveness, targeted dissemination, and social networking. We use a variety of approaches including database development, information brokering, publications, marketing/promotion, direct interpersonal contacts, and electronic communications.

Promoting the Center and Its Work

The Dissemination Program has the task of marketing both the Center's publications and the Center, itself. Dissemination's public information office issues press releases targeted to specific areas; pitch letters and news briefs targeted to specific areas and/or issues; and product and institutional advertisements in professional journals.

Information about Center products and events is also disseminated through the electronic services managed by NCRVE as well as to other electronic listservs and discussion groups. We reach more than 10,000 people through these electronic strategies.

Center products are also advertised through direct mail campaigns, conference display booths, and a complete Products Catalog, available in both printed and electronic formats.

In addition to the institutional advertisements mentioned above, the Dissemination Program provides publicity for the entire Center by publishing a brochure, a yearly Agenda and an annual NCRVE Personnel Directory. The last two respectively describe the Center's mission and areas of work, and the Center's personnel. Our newsletter, CenterWork, carries news from all Center sites and programs.

Publications

NCRVE provides a wide range of publications and publicity materials, from short syntheses of research to newsletter articles to lengthy reports. In doing so, we aim to provide knowledge of various kinds--practitioner-based, service-based, policy-based--which will be useful to our various constituents. In 1998, NCRVE anticipates producing between 30 and 40 written materials. Some of these directly result from the Center's R&D as well as service projects. Other publications are derived either as a planned spin-off from a more formal product (e.g., topical brief) or as a secondary material developed by a project (e.g., a conference paper).

NCRVE will be engaged in ten research and development projects and three Dissemination and Training initiatives, of which the Dissemination Program is one. These activities will produce approximately 20 new manuscripts--monographs, training manuals, briefs, executive summaries, workshop materials and so on--which Dissemination's materials review, production, printing and distribution system will nurture into publications. Subjects covered will include information technology education, minority workers mobility, work performance, and performance-based college admissions.[*]

Among these derived materials, the Dissemination Program intends to produce:

The Reprint Series.--This series will include previously published journal articles, book/monograph chapters, op/ed pieces and so on. These materials describe NCRVE contracted-for activities.

The Working Papers Series.--This series includes materials such as papers presented by Center staff or presentations made at Center-sponsored meetings.

CenterWork: NCRVE's Newsletter.--The Center will publish a quarterly newsletter. In 1998, the "New Products" section of previous years will be replaced with a pull-out insert announcing new publications, able to be shared independent of the newsletter itself. We anticipate each of the four issues containing a special "decade of work" section which highlights popular pre-'98 publications.

CenterFocus: NCRVE's Series of Knowledge Synthesis Papers.--The Dissemination Program plans to distribute four syntheses. These papers will be brief but thorough distillations of research, development, evaluation, and practice knowledge on a specific topic. One (possibly two) of the four documents will be new. The remaining issues will be "decade of work" reissues or compilations of past issues.

CenterPoint: NCRVE's Series of Topical Reflective Papers--As David Stern, NCRVE's director wrote in the last CenterWork, "As we head into 1998, we know there is still much to be done toward improving students' preparation for the challenges which await them. Looking back on what has been accomplished, we renew our confidence that progress is possible." This attitude, a combination of reflection and planning for the future, is much in evidence at NCRVE at present, and will find expression in a new publication, CenterPoint. Each issue will recapitulate, update, and synthesize a major research area NCRVE has investigated over its past decade of work. Papers to be on the alert for (beginning this summer ) include:

Acquisition of Information

The Center tries to help its clients find information by operating an information brokering service. You can call our 800 number, write to us, or send email toAskNCRVE. We will try to help you by referring you to appropriate books or professionals, such as researchers, policymakers, and experts in labor, industry, ore business.

We also run a listserv, VOCNET, as well participating in other electronic discussion groups. For the first time in the Center's decade of work, in 1997, electronic channels were used more than the telephone by both us and our clients. Electronic channels carried 58 percent of the Center's brokering communications , compared to 36 percent over the phone.

A unique element of the Dissemination Program's information brokering function is the "Net Gain" column written by myself and David Carlson, Dissemination's electronic communications manager. The column is published in each issue of AVA's Techniques journal; it discusses electronic resources of interest to the vocational education community.

Electronic Communications

The Center's electronic communications program falls into two broad categories: information servers and electronic mail.

World Wide Web

The cornerstone of the Center's electronic services is its World Wide Web server, which was launched in April 1995 and has grown steadily in both scope and usage. The Web server is one-stop electronic shopping for information by and about NCRVE. The Web server provides among its components, basic contact information for all ongoing projects and personnel, a complete Products Catalog searchable by keyword, an email link to the AskNCRVE email information brokering service, full text of many NCRVE publications , a link to the Student Services Resource Database, a searchable calendar of events, links to information on skill standards, and a set of links to other useful vocational education-related sites.

Electronic Mail

The VOCNET moderated email discussion list continues to be a major feature of NCRVE's electronic offerings, globally connecting vocational educators. Usage stood above 1,600 subscribers in February 1998, with about 125 messages posted per month.

The DISSMN8 email discussion list has been in existence since August 1995. Its focus is educational dissemination. Although usage is much smaller than VOCNET (185 at February's beginning), DISSMN8 is in the words of a subscriber, "[DISSMN8] is doing more than [anything] else at the moment to keep the notion of a dissemination community alive."

The Eleventh Year

Thus, as the Center enters the eleventh year of its "R&D decade,"it is poised to promote vocational education, workforce development and all the major attendant issues through a solid dissemination infrastructure. The Dissemination Program's mandate--to enable the Center to both distribute and market it's ideas, and to be a hub through which people are connected to resources that will help them resolve their pressing educational issues--will continue through 1998.

I remember when my son was a child, and his utter delight in discovering the 13th doughnut in the baker's dozen. I sincerely hope that the Center--in the 11th year of it's decade of work--will be as fruitful in providing you with that extra boost in accomplishing your professional endeavors.

Peter F. Seidman is the director of the NCRVE Dissemination Program.


[*] A complete description of all of NCRVE's 1998 activities will be in The 1998 Agenda for the National Center for Research in Vocational Education, which will be published this spring through the NCRVE Materials Distribution Service.


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