talk-share-learn

web 2.0 for development


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Informal chat with Etienne Wenger on Communities of Practice

Early this week I met Etienne Wenger. The occasion was an informal chat at IFAD with several people also from FAO.

Etienne talked about Communities of Practice. Here are a some notes that I took during the conversation we had.

Genesis of Community of Practice:

There is a tension between being self organized and sustain a CoP to better organize it. There is no substitute for the internal energy of a CoP. There is no substitute for the “relation” itself. A Community starts with a sort of dating. I never thought that someone can START a CoP.

Ways to stimulate CoP:

Create the activities that allow people to understand the kind of relationship they can have among them.  Allow people to talk and engage about their practices. Asking for lessons learned is not a great technique!!! It is too vague. Rather, take advantage of every chance to learn from someone else.

Steps to go through:

Every CoP has its own rhythm. A good community is good for the members, not necessarily for you. Domain discipline: what is this CoP about? Community discipline: given this domain, who are the partners? Practice discipline: on the knowledge of some practice, define the size/shape of the domain. Find your rhythm!!!

CoP and Networks:

Nothing can tell us how long a CoP will last. Often CoPs dissolve into Networks. CoP is just a name. You can call them as you like. Technically speaking there is an identity which is based on the “domain”: this produces a learning implication. In a Network, the accountability is only on the “links”.

Role of Facilitation:

The facilitation can help the Core group of a CoP. Facilitation is not a substitute for leadership. CoP without leadership is usually a failure: look for the core group. A bit of support is very useful because lives are very intense and people can be busy. I changed my mind on this point! Anyhow, you have to create value for them: what do they need?

Participants’ imagination is limited: you have to propose them some ideas. Pulling someone is better than to push him/her. Try to set up activities that create a pull for people’s knowledge. Example: a concrete case for which you need a solution. We are talking about very common sense! Make a clear distinction between energizing and de-energizing tasks for community.

Tips:

Spend your time on strategic conversation about knowledge.

Connect knowledge sharing to one strategic objective of your project.

Most of the times people working for projects are considered focus groups rather than communities.

I have to admit that I agree almost at 100% with what Etienne said!

P.S.: Thanks Roxy and Willem for creating always good occasions to share and discuss.


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Here we come

We are just few hours from the official starting of the FSCA-PISA workshop on ComDev. It is night and I’m almost closing my laptop after having prepared the latest documents for tomorrow.

This afternoon, during “day 0“, the first important goal was achieved: the Social Reporting Team met to discuss our activities and share the tasks. We decided to go for pictures, podcasting and blog posts. Video is a possibility but we have to find time and support for that.

The Social Reporting Team

As you can see in the picture, the Team is officially (and initially) composed by Oumar Ndiaye (Senegal), Thierno Souleymane Bah (Guinee), Mamadu Aliu Djalo (Guinee-Bissau) and myself.

Follow us and you’ll have a great experience!


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Only few days before the FSCA ComDev Workshop!

This is the last week before the beginning of the FSCA-PISA Training in ComDev that will take place next week in Dakar, Senegal.

The FSCA-PISA Workshop Agenda

The list of tasks to complete is long at least as the list of innovations and new opportunities we are offering the participants. Among others, I would like to remember:

  • the use of several interactive methodologies to facilitate the sharing of knowledge (World Café, Chat show, Open Space, Dotmocracy, Network Mapping, SWOT Analysis, Mindmapping)
  • the six different communication labs dedicated to: web, video, photo, rural radio and mobile telephony
  • the preparation of a Case Study to identify the main issues in the Communication strategies
  • the five Cross Cutting Thematic Meetings organised during coffee breaks and lunches
  • the proposal of a Social Reporting Team to document the event
  • the video-photo coverage of the week
  • the interactive website collecting any information about the event since early this year
  • the informal approach used for the training

Sometimes all of those ideas seems old and not valuable. In reality, while preparing such an event with over 45 people involved, you realize how difficult is to adopt new approaches and what big benefits the trainees can have from them.


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Organizing the FSCA-PISA Training Workshop on ComDev

One of my main tasks in this period is the organization of a training workshop on Communication for Development from 11 to 15 April 2011 in Dakar, Senegal. This training is a direct outcome to the recommendations of the FSCA-PISA project team during the latest Regional Workshops.

Preparing the FSCA-PISA Training Workshop in BanjulWe consider this event being fundamental for the progress of the project: it aims at enhancing the communication skills of project staff and key stakeholders, and at strengthening the linkages among the various FSCA projects and harmonizing communication approaches. The workshop also aims at addressing the specific training needs expressed by the individual projects.

Our first worry was to design a highly participative workshop, where trainees are asked to contribute with their own experiences, know-how and visual material from their own projects. These will constitute the basis for interactive sessions during which all participants convene around themes of common interest, prepare case studies, share successes, approaches and lessons learned through tools such as World café, Open Space, Chat Shows and other modern km techniques.

Each project is asked to propose a team of maximum 7 participants among whom we suggest representatives of Ministries of Agriculture, involved in the activities, members of farmer based organizations, partners and the communication consultants. The selection process is fundamental because these people play a crucial role in the management of the projects. A focal point will be designated to coordinate the participation of the whole country team.2nd FSCA-PISA Regional workshop in MonroviaWhile waiting for April to come, we don’t want to loose time. So, the training will consist of two distinct phases: a pre-workshop distance learning step and the proper 5 days face-to-face workshop:

Phase I –  The distance learning step must be completed in advance. It basically consists of a data collection exercise about the projects and about the participants themselves. Our team of facilitators will soon contact them individually and guide them through the process. This phase will help in solving part of the problems due to distance and differences of the 7 countries involved in the FSCA-PISA activities. The more data and objects related to the activities will be collected the better. They will be used to give the other Teams the feeling and the sense of what each project is like.

Phase IIFace to face workshop will be held over a 5 day period in Banjul, Gambia. In addition to the theoretical presentations, there will be practical, participatory labs for communication tools such as web, video, photography, rural radio and mobile telephony. The training sessions will run in parallel for both English and French groups.


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The 2010 FRI’s scriptwriting competition winner is…

Alice Bafiala Mutombo, an independent radio journalist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. My congratulations!

She won first prize in an Africa-wide scriptwriting competition on healthy communities organized by FRI.

writing a radio script

After the selection of a long and interesting list of 68 proposals, here is the complete list of winners in alphabetical order by country is:

  • Kpénahi Traoré, Burkina Faso – Composting human waste is a healthy way to reduce disease and feed the soil
  • Alice Bafiala Mutombo, Democratic Republic of the Congo – A clean village for a healthy life
  • Gabriel Adukpo, Ghana – A family fights malnutrition with local leafy vegetables
  • Simon Mukali, Kenya – Talking to teens about unsafe sex
  • Charles Kemboi, Kenya – Empowerment saves youth from drug abuse
  • Lawrence Wakdet, Nigeria – Occupational and nutritional therapy for people living with HIV and AIDS
  • Oluwakemi Aduroja, Nigeria – Empowering communities with participatory community enumeration
  • Ugonma Cokey, Nigeria – Florence saves girls from human trafficking
  • Bonaventure N’Coué Mawuvi, Togo – Collecting plastic waste: Cleaning the city and generating income
  • Filius Chalo Jere, Zambia – AIDS support program gives positive people a new lease on life

More details on the FRI scritpwriting website.