June 2009

Dear Colleagues

During the past months the IAF Methods Database team has been working on migrating the database to a new platform with the intentions of providing new services, increasing security, and maintaining the site more effectively.

The new platform (Drupal) offers the opportunity to develop many more sections. In anticipation of the new platform we added Research to the old site a few months ago. We have also added three new sections: schools, keywords and bibliography. People adding methods can add both the school the method belongs to and keywords.

We have had students and university teachers approach us to do research on the database. So far we have had two from the University of Groningen and two from the Hanze University of Applied Sciences. These works are on the database.

The schools section is aimed a identifying different “schools” of facilitation such as Open Space Technology and ToP Methods. The idea is that different approaches have differ assumptions and values built into the way the facilitator interacts with the group and what tools they use. Users will be able to search by school for methods, suppliers and bibliography entries.

The keywords section is also a tool for searching for methods. Key words are linked to both methods and to the bibliography. When a search is done on a key word both bibliography and methods entries are listed in the results.

The bibliography section has currently nearly 1400 books and articles listed. About 1000 of these are thanks to Sandy Schumann sending his bibliography on facilitation and collaboration.

We have also made some improvements to the existing sections.

Suppliers can indicate not only where they are located but also the geographical spread of their work. Right now they can list what countries and continents they work in. We hope to add US states and Canadian provinces in the near future. As more information comes in we may be able to add cities.

There was not a lot of traffic on the Forums and so we have moved each of the forums for a method to the comments in the method description. We will have a general forum on the home page.

We have decided to delay the development of some of the old sections. They take some time to keep up to date. These are News and Events. We are looking into ways that they can be kept up to date by involving members of the community to contribute to their maintenance. If you have suggestions or would like to be involved in this effort, please let us know.

A summary of changes per section is here