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I belong to several technology-related online magazines, and  I scan them regularly to see if anything relates to grants. Recently, on the Center for Digital Education website, Tanya Roscoria wrote a story entitled: “Why Educators Should Connect Digitally.”

 

The third paragraph caught my eye:

"Of course digital connections aren’t the only means of connecting at work. Every educator should realize they are connected, whether online or in-person, said Steve Hargadon, founder of classroom 2.0, a social network for educators on the Ning platform. But online connections come with a built-in advantage. They tend to reduce isolation and provide more opportunities for educators to share feedback and encouragement."

Four key points emerged:

  • Built-In Advantage
  • Reduce Isolation
  • Share Feedback
  • Encouragement

Somehow these four points stuck with me, and I wasn’t sure what they had to do with grants.

Recently though, as we were preparing to submit a federal proposal through Grants.gov, we found that we were constantly checking the Federal Register. Our team included several individuals from our campus and a couple from the community.

We had been preparing for this proposal announcement for over a year, but issuance of the guidelines kept being pushed back. The announcement would be posted in the Federal Register, and we knew that when it was posted we would only have 30 days to submit our proposal.

Our cross-disciplinary proposal writing team consisted of five individuals with specific skills sets:

  • The Academic Content Expert (Plan of Operation);
  • The Institutional Researcher (Data Gathering);
  • Business Office Federal Expert (Budget Development and Approval);
  • Principal Editor (Dean);
  • Needs Assessment/Objectives /Evaluation (Grants Manager).

We debated what would be the best option for everyone to work collectively on the proposal document in order to have the process be both democratic and allow for edits from all the members.

One option was using Google Docs, which was recently converted to Google Drive. Another option was choosing Text Editing Software as available from CNET.

Some team members had experienced past difficulties with Google Docs, so those folks didn’t want to use it. Another faction didn’t want to pay money for text editing software. Given this dilemma, we decided to develop our “home-grown” approach to proposal writing and editing.

At our institution, we all use Microsoft Office 2010. It is pre-loaded to all our desktop and laptop computers. The objection to the two other choices was solved.

I started writing the proposal outline, and inserted everyone’s responsible area of writing. We used Microsoft Word with the “Track Changes” feature. Everyone had their own color for edits. When a person would upload their section or provide edits, they would send an e-mail to the entire writing team and place the revised date on the master proposal document and insert their initials on the ”New Draft” as a Word Attachment. The process actually worked! It was democratic—everyone had an equal voice, and the final arbiter was the Independent Editor an external member to the team.

Next time, give this approach a try when you are planning on writing a proposal within a short timeframe. You might be pleasantly surprised!