A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from a principal in Michigan who asked about dissemination. His project was funded and was an outstanding success, and he was looking for ways to spread the word so others could learn from his school’s experience.
Some requests for proposals (RFPs) will ask for a dissemination plan up front, although this isn’t very common. Still, it’s important to keep in mindespecially at the federal levelthat reviewers are looking for projects that can be replicated. And, if people don’t hear about a project, chances are it won’t be replicated!
Including a dissemination plan and monies in the budget to fund these activities, even when they aren’t asked for in the RFP, can boost your chances of receiving a grant.
What is dissemination? It’s the process of spreading the information about your project to audiences who might be interested in your experience and your results. Usually, you want to disseminate information about a grant project so others can learn about the process you followed, the outcomes you achieved, and the mistakes you made. People might want to replicate your project in their own schools, or they might want to understand how the collaborative process worked in your particular project so they can replicate this process in a project of their own.
Why are funders interested in dissemination? Usually for the positive public-relations benefits it generates. Funders want to show they’re making a difference for students by supporting projects with results. They also want to show that their monies are being used wisely and effectively.
You have several options regarding the dissemination of your grant-funded project. Presenting or publishing your findings are the two most common methods.
Read an RFP carefully to see if there are any restrictions or requirements about dissemination, especially regarding travel. If there aren’t any, consider adding funding for travel to statewide, national, and/or international conferences to present your findings. Be careful to identify conferences that the reviewers will view as credible (rather than choosing conferences based on their appealing locations!) and that will have the biggest impact in terms of audience numbers. For technology-related conferences, consider the National School Boards Association’s Technology + Learning Conference in November and/or the National Educational Computing Conference in June.
If you choose to publish your findings, identify those publications that are most appropriate for the project and find out how to submit an article. Publications to consider include eSchool News and Technology & Learning magazine; for eSchool News, send a query first by eMail to Managing Editor Dennis Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org outlining your proposed topic. You could also look at statewide or organizational newsletters as two more possible avenues for publication.
Besides presenting or publishing your findings, you might want to create a report that outlines your project’s results and distribute it to specific audiences. Decide which audiences might find your project’s results most useful, and identify who will receive a copy. For example, you might want to talk to representatives from a statewide organization to see if they want to distribute your report to their membership.