In existence for 21 years, WordFarmers Associates has since 2013 completed work in the projects noted on our client list. Here we have selected six recent projects—some of them ongoing—to highlight, with links to websites.
State project: State projects operate within political and organizational contexts peculiar to each state. These contexts incorporate assets and challenges. WordFarmers works to help clients access assets better and manage the challenges. One recent statewide evaluation on which WordFarmers partners, The Center for Sensory Disabilities (CSD) is funded by Ohio’s Department of Education, via the Office for Exceptional Children. The work of the CSD, housed at OCALI, has two units, the Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness and the Assistive Technology and Accessible Educational Materials Center. WordFarmers Associate is the lead partner in the third-party evaluation effort. We are helping Center staff fulfill a challenging mission with substantial formative work. The work includes instrument design, evaluation of PD sessions, and formative assistance with product development and planning.
Federal project: Federal projects come with requirements and expectations different from those familiar at the state level. WordFarmers has extensive experience in and around federal projects. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, one client works with an array of partnering organizations to serve families, educators, and other professionals who support children and students with deafblindness. WordFarmers is the third-party evaluator.
District project: Local school districts sometimes conclude that it’s useful to bring in an external organization to help them consider a critical issue. WordFarmers offers such consultation tied to a relevant study process. This usually entails gathering data, analyzing, and producing a written report. Whereas some district projects have short turnaround times, others are longer in duration. We recently helped a district evaluate how it provided services to students with disabilities.
WordFarmers has a task-oriented culture, and product development is a key capacity.
Modules: Many WordFarmers’ clients are responsible for professional development (PD) with wide audience interest. WordFarmers creates content for modules and other electronic PD packages. These products have evidence-based content, audience appeal, and excellent graphic design. The PD offerings of one client have benefited substantially from WordFarmers’ involvement in producing material for modules.
Podcasts: Another format relevant to PD is the podcast. WordFarmers creates podcasts for clients from scratch: designing the product, planning storyboards, conducting and recording high-quality interviews, writing scripts, and assembling it all into a “podcast.” Podcasts can (of course) be embedded in modules, and they can be used as stand-alone products.
Books: Clients produce books for specific purposes, but often require help. In 2018 one client produced two books using the expertise of a WordFarmers team. See here for the cover and table of contents from one of them. The team conceptualized the effort with project leaders, piloted original materials, and revised and rewrote the books based on extensive feedback from stakeholders. The books are now part of the clients’ training packages.
Guides: Social services fields like education develop processes for improving services. Well-developed processes are supported by clear, user-friendly guides. WordFarmers recently produced two such guides, one for administrators and one for teachers.
WordFarmers does not conduct research for its own sake, but to advance, share, and deepen its support for clients’ work. For WordFarmers, “research” above all means publication.
Peer-reviewed research report: Peer-reviewed publication confirms an effort as research. WordFarmers usually undertakes research because clients have a significant policy concern that needs objective data. One client commissioned WordFarmers to study the licensure and certification of teachers of the visually impaired, hearing impaired, and deafblind across the nation. Publication was in the American Annals of the Deaf. Findings helped Ohio establish multi-institutional collaboratives to prepare more VI and HI teachers, especially in rural areas.
Practitioner magazine article: Practitioner articles can reach a very wide audience. They demand a focused and clear presentation. WordFarmers authors have prepared hundreds of publications for practitioner audiences. One client commissioned a study of what districts did with their paraprofessional educators. Dissemination included an article in a national practitioner magazine. Such publications give clients substantial national visibility.
Book chapter: Book chapters give clients scope for deep reflection on issues related to the projects’ work and experience with partners. WordFarmers’ experience helps clients access this publication vector. One example is a recent chapter about inclusive leadership. The chapter in part represents WordFarmers’ involvement in the notable project of a prominent national research center. And the substance of that involvement connects directly to ongoing work for other clients.
Measurement instruments: The data needed for legitimate evaluation and research efforts come from valid and reliable instruments. Often clients need to create such instruments to do their work well. One project needed to measure instructional coaching skills. WordFarmers led the effort to develop the instrument. The report of this work was disseminated through a peer-reviewed research article.