the fishbowl session (photo by Petr Kosina)

the fishbowl session (photo by Petr Kosina)

This is a post following up on the Knowledge Management, Education and Learning Workshop held in Maputo 4 and 5 December 2008. (You can read more about this workshop by selecting the tag KELMaputo.)

A few weeks after our workshop in Maputo I have found some time and mental diskspace to finish loose threads. The following is a short summary of the notes of the session we used to hear back from the three groups, also known as ‘the Fishbowl session‘.

Notes of the Fishbowl session Maputo workshop, 5 December

In the group on learning with communities the ‘model’ for the new -or not really that new?- reality for agricultural knowledge or information was discussed. The networked model is becoming more eminent in an increasingly connected world, like in Steve Songs presentation. What is the role of research in the new networked reality? How does it link to the changes within CGIAR?

Several implications were touched. Not seeing CG as central, but the whole as a network of equals, is one of the ‘new’ perspectives. How to keep track of interventions and of their success?

The following emerged from the discussions as good things to be doing:

  • Allowing the use of process indicators instead of only focussing on result or product indicators. The idea is: if the process is right, there is probably somewhere, sometime, a result. Much easier to ‘measure’ the quality of the process than insisting on always measuring the result. (Plus you avoid the problem of attribution. (The question: is the result measured thanks to the process).
  • Instead of zooming in to the problems, use asset based thinking. Collecting success stories within and around CGIAR is important; there are many and they set good examples.
  • Partnerships are considered crucial. What are ways to build equal partnerships?

Universities in Africa, as discussed by a group on formal education, are very diverse, in all possible aspects. They need support to enter the 21century, how can we support them? They, too, are part of the networked model: how can they deal with it?

Except for the changes to adapt to shifting times, curricular changes (or renewal of curricula) are needed. What opportunities do the new connections, the social web,  offer here? Can we think of e-curricula? Also: how do we increase the capacity on Knowledge Management itself, is that by doing it or additionally by offering KM curriculum?

And finally for the group focussing on Knowledge Management. Within CGIAR, How to really embed KM?
Parallels between institutes, departments and key programs were explored.
A broad range of topics was touched in these discussions, networking occurred and several personal commitments were made.

Personal reflection
I think the workshop showed how it all hangs together: the networked model for Agricultural Knowledge, in which farmer communities, the value chains, Research, formal education and joint learning all have their place. The workshop clearly showed how this picture is changing; becoming more “networked” with the increasing connections and digital tracks we are all leaving.

Ajit Maru, co-initiator of the workshop, explains what to him is the core of the change in a comment on this blog:

Ajit Maru Says:
December 17, 2008 at 11:31 am

The core issue in Steve’s presentation was about “conversation” in a community.

To me, it is not only conversation that is important but “continuous conversation” within a community that is even more important. We can have a conversation in a community but when it is continued over time instead of it being one-off it enables blossoming of different perspectives on an issue that leads to a far more deeper understanding of the issue. (his comment is much longer, read on here..)

This, together with the changes upcoming in CGIAR, gave us a context in which there was LOTS to jointly explore: how to be effective, how to link, how to deal with partners inside and outside CGIAR, how to keep track, how to share our successes and failures? Who to liaise with, what are possible alliances? And, maybe most of all: Where am I in the new picture, where are you? What do the changes, both wider societal and within CGIAR, mean to me? How is my institute, my department, my group of colleagues reacting to the changes? and how is yours?

The maps are changing. Explorations on a continuously changing map are not easy. Some of us may feel we achieved little, as there is little concrete result. But still it feels like we worked hard: at getting to grips with new challenges ahead, brainstorming on what to do about them, networking for possible alliances. I for me have decided to do as suggested, and to focus on process and not immediately on result…. maybe it is early to set our marks. To me, the workshop seemed like a beginning: where to put our marks next? What are some common principles for the future? How and with whom can we join our forces for the future? I trust this blog will be one of the meeting places where we can follow the ongoings of this process. What will the 2009 episodes bring?

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The ICT-KM Program of the Consultative Groups on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) and the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and YPARD (Young Professionals’ Platform for Agricultural Research for Development),  along with other partners organized a workshop to discuss priorities and develop an agenda for action through global collaboration in improving agricultural knowledge management, education and learning on 4 and 5 December 2008 at Maputo during the CGIAR AGM08.

The day and a half meeting was documented through social reporting with help of consultant Josien Kapma.
Social reporting is where a group of participants at an event interactively and jointly contribute to some form of reporting, in text, photos, images or video. The resulting “social report” is made accessible, usually online, as soon as possible, sometimes as a half-product. This allows others to join in, to extend, to adjust or remix.”

We started Day 1 with two key notes.

Steve Song, of Shuttleworth Foundation (formerly of Canada’s International Development Research Centre, where he led the ICT programs for Africa), was the first workshop presenter.
The increasing density of connections in the world changes the way we work, the way we think in a fundamental and qualitative way. I will talk about why that is true and what impact that may have on people and organizations. “

Professor Ekwamu Adipala was our next guest speaker. He coordinates the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture in Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda and Zimbabwe
The main thrust is that for Africa to participate in a global knowledge economy it must have a critical mass of well trained human capital and that is grossly lacking. The need remains on good professional discipline and depth, but more critically, on cross-cutting professional skills that allow the professionals to adapt to opportunities. “

After the two presentations, the 40 or so participants had conversations in groups about what they had heard and prepared questions to the speakers that were then addressed in plenary.

We ended the morning session with a Chat-Show to listen to more experiences of partners in the areas of KM, education and learning. Chat show host Peter Ballantyne used the  connectedness concept that Steve proposed in the morning to gather participant’s experiences.
The single one most important thing, according to the chat show guests: Collaboration between African University, non-African University and CGIAR, each sticking to its area; Explore ICTs to build self-directed learning; Unlock CG knowledge; ICTs for meaningful conversation with partners; Curriculum reform and mentoring;  Introduce new ICT’s, e.g the “voice web” to radio”.

In the afternoon, we broke out into three groups in order to allow participants to address in depth the issues they care about. One group worked on formal education, another group addressed the issue of rural learning communities and a third group explored possible entry points fro the CGIAR to work on KM strategies.

 Our social reporter gathered some feedback from participants after Day1: https://ictkm.wordpress.com/2008/12/15/impressions-of-the-first-day-km-education-and-learning-workshop-maputo/

On day two we used a Fishbowl dynamic to share interactively the discussions from the different working groups, for many the highlight of the event.

We ended the workshop going around the circle of participants and their take-aways.

Workshop photo gallery: http://www.flickr.com/groups/910900@N24/pool/ Thanks to Petr Kosina for his great shots.


Improving Agriculture Knowledge Sharing, Education and Learning through Collaboration and Partnerships” 4th and 5th December 2008 – Maputo

“Knowledge sharing (KS), education and learning are part of a continuum that must be considered together so as to benefit agricultural progress.” says Ajit Maru of the Global Forum for Agricultural Research

The ICT-KM Program of the Consultative Groups on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) and the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) along with other partners are organizing a workshop to discuss priorities and develop an agenda for action through global collaboration. The objective: improving agricultural knowledge management, education and learning.

The outcomes of this meeting will feed into a planned high level conference on improving investment in agricultural research and innovation in 2009 being organized jointly by GFAR, FAO, IFAD and the CGIAR.

The agenda is divided in three half-day sessions:
– Listen and discuss together different experiences and perspectives on KM, agricultural education, and learning
– Work in small groups on 1) Formal Agricultural Education; 2) Enabling Opportunities for Learning for Agricultural Livelihoods; 3) Knowledge Management – How To
– Plan follow-up actions

The session on “Knowledge-Management – How To” faciliated by Steve Song will address the areas of interest expressed by KM practitioners through a previous survey, and will aim at identifying areas of collaboration based on our various and diverse experiences among centers and partners.

More information at: http://kmstrategyworkshop.wikispaces.com/  or write to ictkm@cgiar.org