Last week I blogged about the 1st Training Session at FAO and it was such a success that they repeated the training session on Wikis again yesterday for those people that didn’t get the chance to register last week.

Tania Jordan, Gauri Salokhe, Romolo Tassone

Tania Jordan, Gauri Salokhe, Romolo Tassone

Usually after the training sessions, Gauri Salokhe and Romolo Tassone from the FAO Web Knowledge Exchange and Capacity Building Division, perform an “After Action Review” to the participants to see what they liked the most or least, and use this feedback to improve future sessions.

It seems that many participants liked the ‘hands-on’ session last week where they had the opportunity to ‘play’ around with the tools, but participants requested  they should have more time …in other words: ‘less talk and more play‘…of course, nothing better than doing-it-yourself!

So considering last weeks feedback, yesterday’s 2-hour session was organized as to give more time to the participants for the ‘hands-on’ session.

Steve Katz

Steve Katz

Steve Katz, Chief of the Knowledge Exchange Facilitation Branch at FAO, introduced the session by saying:

FAO is a multi-disciplinary environment and we organize events such as the Sharefair and training sessions like these to introduce new knowledge sharing methods, tools and approaches to help us work more horizontally in the organization…the challenge is to see how these can be applied in your work…

 

Romolo continued by giving the participants an introduction about what makes a Wiki a Wiki, and he explained: 

  • inline edit/save
  • easy and open access to history, versioning/differences information and the ability to role back
  • The most recent additions/modifications of articles can be monitored actively or passively (RSS, email, summary page) – to facilitate collaborative editing
  • Discussion tab
  • User management/permissions
  • approach that focuses on trust, accountability and transparency, rather than security/authority/ownership
  • Moderation/advocacy required. Sense of community and personal involvement of content
Gauri Salokhe

Gauri Salokhe

Gauri showed the example of the Knowledge Sharing toolkit (KS Toolkit), a long-term collaborative Wiki site using Wikispaces that assembles knowledge sharing tools and methods resources as a clear example of collaboration between CGIAR ICT-KM, FAO and most recenly from the KMforDev community.

Tania Jordan

Tania Jordan

This time, I showed them an example of a private collaborative team site under our CGXchange 2.0 implementation where more than 25 people from the different continents were actively collaborating to produce 7 Enterprise Security Good Practice documents on a Google Sites Wiki.

There were interesting questions like: ‘ How do you get people to start on a Wiki?’, What if I need to work only on one document? or How do I know if I need a Wiki’… Like any website, to get people started on a Wiki, you really need someone that is constantly ‘pushing’ people to provide their input, someone (or a group of people) that as Gauri put it: acts as a ‘Wiki gardener’, that encourages people to provide their ideas and content on the site. Once people start feeling confident on the tools and see the potential of what they’re working on, the Wiki starts taking a life of its’ own!

Remember that in some cases, people don’t really need a Wiki site, sometimes a simple online document can do what you need and I explain these differences further on this post: Useful tips for collaborative writing with Google Docs and Google Sites.

Of course towards the end of the session, the moment they’ve all been waiting for…the participants were paired up on the computers and had the opportunity to get their hands-on the Wiki…indeed this is the moment where they have lots of fun!

Once again, I congratulate and thank Gauri and Romolo for organizing this wonderful session…it’s very nice to see that there are always new things to learn from each other.

Gauri also wrote a blog post about this Wiki session.

Until the next time, I look forward to your comments…

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate as guest speaker to the first training session about Wikis at FAO and it was an enriching experience!

The 2-hour session was moderated by Gauri Salokhe and Romolo Tassone, both from the Web Knowledge Exchange and Capacity Building Division at FAO.

These sessions at FAO are part of an ongoing series of workshops on the methods, tools and services that can facilitate knowledge sharing.  These trainings are offered weekly by the Knowledge Exchange and Capacity Building Division (KCE), in collaboration with Staff Development Branch (AFHT).

The session was fully booked and it was interesting to see how more and more people that couldn’t register were arriving to see if, just by chance, they could get a seat to participate in the session. This shows there are a lot people interested in learning more about collaborative tools and how these can be applied to their work at FAO.

Initially the moderators introduced Wikis by showing one of the world’s most popular Wiki: Wikipedia. Actually at FAO, they have implemented MediaWiki, the software behind Wikipedia as their internal Wiki, but they also offer other Wiki tools depending on the users’ requirements.

Together with Gauri, we showed the example of the Knowledge Sharing toolkit (KS Toolkit), a collaborative wiki site using Wikispaces that assembles knowledge sharing tools and methods resources. The KS Tookit is an initiative of the ICT-KM’s Institutional Knowledge Sharing project and in collaboration with FAO and the KM4Dev community, it currently has approximately 120 people that contribute to keep this global public good growing.

I had the opportunity to show the Wikis we have implemented recently in the CGIAR. As part of the CGXchange project, we are currently offering Google Sites which is a Wiki that users can easily setup themselves and start collaborating quickly. Some of these Wikis are public or private. The private Wikis in the CGIAR are mostly being used for project/team collaboration and meeting sites. The public Wikis are shared with the world for viewing and only a few people with editing rights can maintain the content:

http://www.cgxchange.org (site that gathers tutorials and trainings of the collaboration tools available for the CGIAR staff)

http://alliance.cgxchange.org (the strategic framework of the new CGIAR is being shared through this public Wiki)

We also discussed about the Wikis that ‘die‘ because of the fact that people do not contribute. Of course…Wikis are just like any website, they need a moderator or at least a group people that are committed in keeping the content updated and encouraging others to contribute so they can be useful.

Towards the end of the session the participants had the opportunity to edit a Wiki that had been setup for the training using a free Wikispaces guest account. The participants had a lot of fun adding content, links, inserting videos and deleting what others had written!…thank goodness that Wikis have version history and you can easily go back and retrieve older versions! 🙂

You can find a summary of all the links to the Web pages that were viewed during the training session on this Delicious page: http://delicious.com/sharefair09/training_wiki

I would like to thank Gauri and Romolo for the invitation to participate as guest speaker for this session. I believe we learned a lot from each other and hope we continue partnering in these knowledge sharing sessions in the near future. 

I believe that we, in the ICT-KM program, are doing a lot of research about social media tools and have vast experience on these topics. Given the CGIAR’s dispersed locations, currently our main method to communicate our knowledge is using our blog, which is great, but many people still prefer hands-on training sessions than reading. In this respect, my take home message is that we should learn from our FAO colleagues and start organizing on-site or online training sessions as well, every now and then, to share our knowledge on social media tools for our colleagues in the CGIAR…

The ShareFair 09 has just come to a close. Months of preparations, negotiations, discussions, worrying whether this was a good decision, will people come, will they understand?….

When Mrs. Williams, Assistant Director General for the Knowledge Department in FAO declared the ShareFair closed, I had shivers down my back, and more so when the crowd in the Green Room spontaneously clapped seeing the names of all the people who contributed to the Fair and its success displayed on the screen in the closing ceremony. It was done..a job well done by all of us. We should all feel very proud!

Only 3 days earlier I was sitting in the main podium of the Plenary Hall trying to explain in two minutes that knowledge sharing was just a way of doing things smarter.

Three days of ShareFair…what are my 3 take home messages:

– You cannot manage knowledge, let is flow, let it grow. Allow others to stand “on the shoulders of the giants”.

– Given the chance, people are eager to share and learn. Reward those who ‘dare to share’.

– People speak differently when they speak to their superiors. Create a safe space where they can talk, express their ideas, their creative juice. Let them grow, your organization will only benefit from it.

Usually at the end of such an intense period, you feel a certain anticlimax. This time it has not happened to me, I still feel the buzz of people walking along the corridors, meeting and talking to people they had not talked to before, even if they worked in the same organizations for years, finding out they had similar issues and together they could find solutions. People asking “when can we do this again”? What else can we, as organizers, ask for?

A heartfelt “thank you” goes to all who worked so hard to make this possible, from the steering committee, to the management who “dared” to support such an event and be ready to ‘face the consequences’, to my fellow CGIAR colleagues who traveled from afar to participate, to the volunteers, the translators, all the unsung heroes….

It is never fair to try and single out a person….but if I were pushed to do so, no hesitation. Gauri Salokhe, an information management officer in FAO, who worked so hard, so relentlessly, so creatively and always with a smile. She has been dubbed by a fellow Steering committee member as the “Saint of the Fair” a title well deserved!

Keep up the energy, we started a movement and we must keep it up!

I was very happy to attend the Share Fair session where the FAO Official Representatives Web site was presented. Not that I have much to do with its content. But the person who designed and developed the site, Maria Grazia Bovo, was one of our alumni in the first KS workshop. When we started the workshop this web site didn’t exist and Maria Grazia designed the site as the workshop unfolded.

It was fabulous to see it up and running now and I really liked the site:

  • It has a sober FAO design adapted to its user group
  • It has blog lines that are daily updated
  • It also allows non official representatives who work at FAO to access lots of information through the Intranet
  • It has a Google calendar with all FAO events and it allows to follow webcasts and offers podcasts through a clever mash up with other parts of FAOs Intranet.
  • In addition it is now the only way to access important information that was beforehand distributed via fax o paper copies, a good way to get users on board and increase consultations.

Bravo Maria!

Next week I will join the Share Fair in Rome.

The Institutional KS project is happy to support some sessions as facilitator, and to present at a booth and together with FAO the KS Toolkit and the KS Workshop. It is also rewarding that one of our pilot projects on “Storymercials” will be presented as a way to effectively communicate project results through short videos.

As the end of this projects comes nearer (end of April), I am very much looking forward to the event which will allow many colleagues and friends who have deeply contributed to the project, to meet, like Nancy White and Lucie Lamoureux who put their brain and energy into the workshop and toolkit, or Gauri Salokhe from FAO who’s enthusiasm made it possible join forces with FAO on the KS workshop and the toolkit. I am also looking forward to meet for the first time Michael Riggs from FAO who was a first class workshop participant, and then mentor. And there are all these other incredible people and colleagues who work so effectively on knowledge management and sharing in their organizations:  Sophie Treinen, Luca Servo, Andrew Nadeau (all FAO), Petr Kosina from CIMMYT, Andrea Pape-Christiansen from ICARDA, Vanessa Meadu from ICRAF…

I am also looking forward to meet new people, to facilitate sessions in which I hope to be able to help the groups to “do their best thinking”, to listen and learn from the experiences of others, and I hope to see us close to a tipping point where participatory communication processes become as essential as a project report, or any kind of publication.

Mobile phones are the success story of bridging the rural digital divide, bringing tangible economic benefits and acting as agents of social mobilization through improved communication. But what are the real challenges that face reaching rural areas, and what are some of today’s most beneficial applications that can help these rural communities, specifically regarding agriculture development?

This Forum will examine the challenges that rural communities face in enhancing the benefits of mobile telephony, and look at some examples of interesting initiatives and good outcomes from around the globe.

Subject Matter experts include:

  • Pete Cranston, ICT and New Media in Development Consultant
  • Jawahar Kanjilal, Global Head of Emerging Market Services, Services & Software, Nokia
  • Christian Kreutz, Consultant, Knowledge Activist
  • AHM Sultanur Reza, Additional General Manager and Head, Community Information Center, Grameenphone Ltd.
  • Luca Servo, Knowledge Manager and Online Communities Expert, FAO
  • Nigel Scott, Gamos Ltd
  • Charlotte Masiello-Riome, Communications Expert and e-Agriculture.org Coordinator
  • Michael Riggs, Information Management Specialist for the Asia-Pacific region, FAO

Register on the e-agriculture platform, if you haven’t already done so. Go to http://www.e-agriculture.org/regform.html

As part of my work as Marketing Officer (Quality Improvement) at FAO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, I am involved in sharing knowledge and information about new marketing best practices with my colleagues in the regional office’s informal and multidisciplinary Commercialization and Agri-Business Interest Group (CABIG).
 
As a coordinator of CABIG – pronounced “cabbage” – I decided to attend the Second FAO/ICT-KM Knowledge Sharing Workshop to learn about innovative knowledge sharing methods that will enable me to make the most of group discussions in my workplace. I also hoped to discover new web-based tools that can help a community of practice, the members of which do not necessarily have the time nor financial means to meet face-to-face, to collaborate remotely.
 
The workshop helped me to explore knowledge-sharing challenges and opportunities, and how to make the most of face-to-face collaboration. We also discussed alternatives to email and tools for virtual collaboration. This was extremely useful as most of my work in a decentralized office of FAO also makes me interact frequently with my Headquarters colleagues and supervisors in Rome by email. The workshop also allowed me to learn tips in order to become a better facilitator of meetings and group discussions, which will also help me in my work.
 
To sum it up in just three words, I have realized that knowledge sharing is collaborative, flexible, and, very importantly, fun.