Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

Today, while we are tuning towards the end of week 2 of our workshop, we are having our second set of teleconferences.

The suggested agenda was to go over the network mapping exercise (a main activity of the week where we discovered already 17 network maps!), as well as to start thinking about possible tools and methods to improve KS within those networks. We also invited participants to give some feedback on the first two weeks: What worked well, what could be improved, and what could we do individually to make most out of the event. Overall most participants emphasize that they “learn a lot” but admit at the same time that the amount of information to digest is tremendous, a feeling that many expressed already at the first week’s call. We also heard often that participants will try to find more time to dedicate to the course.

Some things that worked well for participants:

  • The podcasts
  • The network mapping exercise
  • The possibility to read all across the discussions
  • The possibility to get all posts through e-mail or RSS
  • Moodle as a platform for the workshop
  • The weekly teleconference calls
  • Having fun
  • The toolkit

Some things that could be improved:

  • Have less different activities and discussions ongoing at the same time
  • The amount of information is overwhelming
  • Summarize more frequently
  • Make the teleconference calls more dynamic
  • Have something around gender specific tools
  • Have more on low technology tools.

What can we do?
We decided for next week to invite participants to focus on Activity #3 where we try to split up in groups of interest and think about scanning and picking KS tools and methods that could be appropriate for the different topics, and also have a short experience in virtual team work. The suggested themes are based on our interactions of week 1, but participants can also create new discussion topics.

Looking forward to the next days of interactions…

img_1398.jpg I had the pleasure to co-facilitate the Learning Laboratory Planning Meeting of the Institutional Learning and Change (ILAC) Initiative here at CIAT, Colombia

Around 25 participants representing 8 different cases gathered to launch the so-called learning lab. The objective of the learning lab is to identify, support, draw and record lessons from promising collaborative pro-poor agricultural innovation programs.
Highly motivated and committed researchers and development workers from the CGIAR and partner organizations worked themselves through project network maps and change models based on the Participatory Impact Pathways Approach (PIPA) in order to identify opportunities for developing ILAC components into their existing projects and for joint learning within the group. Some of the areas of interest that came out of the exercises were: Capacity building in ILAC related topics, the evaluation of the projects as far as learning and change dynamics are concerned, and the support to policy influence of stakeholders, among others. 

Besides the PIPA methodology, we used lots of group discussion dynamics. In several opportunities, participants used cards to highlight or summarize their thoughts, suggestions, and reactions which were then sorted into categories that helped constantly visualize the possible focus for the learning lab activities.

A number of participants had been invited as external resource persons, which generated very useful moments of reflections within the group.

Participants had overall very positive comments about the workshop design, the PIPA methodology, the value of the resource persons, and in general the value of sharing experiences among projects, Centers, and continents.