April 2008


As week three of the KS workshop is starting we are defining the specific tools and methods that participants would like to explore. We do this through the teleconferences and through our moodle platform.

It looks like the network mapping exercise triggered a lot of interest and Social Network Analysis is something that many would like to learn more about. Other tools and methods that we will look at more specifically are: Wikis, blogs, Dgroups, interactive use of mobile phones, to mention only a few.

Nancy White guided one group this morning via conference call through the KS toolkit which was at the same time a way to do a wiki-tour.

Some of the very positive things that popped up today:

  • Our participants from ICARDA who work on a Farmer’s Conference set up a wiki for this event. It contains lots of elements and ideas that have been discussed during the last 2 weeks in the workshop.
  • Michael Riggs from FAO decided to really start his blog that he set up earlier with feedback and posts on the workshop
  • Andrea Carvajal from CIAT offered her experience on how to introduce social network analysis with easy to use group dynamics in workshops.
  • Several participants mentioned that they will talk to their IT colleagues and engage with them in discussions on how to start to use some of the tools they start to learn about.
  • Two participants from Africa finally joined after two weeks motivated to catch up!
  • It appears that participants are choosing among the different possible channels for interaction that the course offers (discussion topics, learning logs, toolkit, conference calls, podcats, readings) to pick out what works best for each of them.
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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.

KS toolkit We are in the middle of the second week of the Knowledge Sharing (KS) Workshop.
While the first week’s rich discussions focused on the Why? of KS, we are now sharing our ideas on the With whom? And How? through three entry points: (1) Our network maps to understand selected project environments, (2) a discussion on our target groups, and (3) a screening of our KS toolbox in order to start to think about possible tools or methods to improve KS within our selected networks. We hope to get more network maps posted on our Moddle platform and to have a rich discussion on our phone conference calls on Thursday.

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