Today I met attended a workshop with BTCV to try to decide on the future of the Volunteer Passport that I was involved with a few months ago (especially as I’m not going to be here to maintain it).
The Passport hasn’t been used that much yet – but there are several reasons for this, firstly that it’s not been promoted anywhere yet (many people in BTCV don’t know about it), secondly, it’s functionality is slightly confused and thirdly, it still need finishing off.
The original purpose of the Passport was to allow volunteers to record their skills and experience and then use this as evidence to put towards formal qualifications (NVQs etc) and act as an ePortfolio system. However since we decided to use Elgg as the basis for the system, this opened up the possibility of it becoming a social network for BTCV.
Much of our discussion today was about whether or not BTCV should be providing a social networking system for it’s volunteers (why not just use facebook?) and how it could be justified. We eventually came to the conclusion that it probably could be justified if we had some good use cases and evidence of how it would benefit current BTCV activities, but that the system as it stands would need work on the interface design (layout, structure and terminology).
If there is anyone out there who is interested in following up this work (especially from a technical/development point of view) then please drop me a line and I’ll put you in touch with the BTCV team 🙂
Over the last couple of months, in my spare time, I’ve been volunteering doing some programming work for the BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers) on their Volunteer Involvement Team to develop a “Volunteer Passport”. I’ve been volunteering with BTCV for a number of years, but always on their conservation work projects, so doing programming for them was a little more like my normal day job 😉
What they needed from the Volunteer Passport system was somewhere their key volunteers could record their learning experiences/objectives, skills, courses etc… so essentially an ePortfolio system. So rather than building something from scratch, I’ve adapted ELGG to add in the extra functionality required for the Volunteer Passport – this mainly involved updating the edit profile section to allow for skills and courses entry.
The system is now live on the BTCV servers at: http://passport.btcv.org.uk and we’re presenting it at the BTCV volunteers conference this weekend. It’s still not fully complete, there is plenty more functionality that we’d like to add, as well as getting it more closely integrated with existing BTCV IT systems, but it is a working system, so feel free to sign up and have a play 🙂 We’ve created a forum for feedback, so if you have comments, queries or suggestions please post them there.
For those interested I’ve used Google Code as the source code repository for the work I’ve done (see: http://code.google.com/p/volunteer-passport/). I know there are other (voluntary) organisations who are very interested in what we’re doing, with a view to creating their own, so all the code I’ve written is open source and freely available to anyone who wants to use it 🙂