Mar 25, 2010
We were located 2 hours from Capetown in the small town of Kleinmond. We stayed in a holiday home in small bungalows in a be...
We were located 2 hours from Capetown in the small town of Kleinmond. We stayed in a holiday home in small bungalows in a beautiful, inspiring landscape with mountains in front of us and the Atlantic Ocean behind us. What better place could you have to start a writing collective. The idea was not to write just another guidebook, but to bring in the vast experiences of the participating NGO’s to bring theory and practice together in combination with an action research next year in 20 Southern NGO’s to bring the guide as a tool for transforming organizations and Social change into practice.
To develop this we needed to know each other much better, but also to develop our own writing voice. One of the exercises we used for this is the technique of freewriting. In freewriting your pen, rather than your mind decides what to write; the hand leads and the mind follows. As simple as it sounds, it’s no easy exercise and takes real discipline to stick to this simple premise. We did several exercises with a start sentence and 4 minutes of writing. Afterward you had to underline the key sentences and share this with a small group to make a poem out of it. That sounds a bit weird, but actually the poems were quit powerful.
Another method that we used was it always powerful storytelling. With the freewriting exercises we also had described two of our key learning moments. You could share the stories with one of the others, pick one and shared that story with the whole group. During the whole week we told these stories and distilled the general lessons out of these stories to use that to describe inside-out how we have gone through our own learning journeys. These general insights were stored on colored papers on the whole: a big collection of thoughts at the end of the week.
To look outside-in to organisational learning the core group of the writers collective on organisational learning, which we discussed to see what was most inspirational, fascinating but also to define areas for deeper research, missing parts and remaining questions.
On day three we were on a quest for our vision. At 07.00 sharp we climbed in silence the mountain in front of were we stayed. At the top (a 30 minutes climb, through a beautiful landscape, one of the most diverse worldwide in terms of number of plans) we wrote our how we thought the Barefootguide would be used in the world in 5 years time as a free writing exercise. After a lovely walk down through a different path we brought all these stories together in small groups to design the leading image through a very creative drawing process. These three leading images were than shared and brought together into one picture with symbols, metaphors and key words.
The last day was the process that will lead to the development if the barefootguide. The next write workshop will be in May in Egmond (the Netherlands).
Before that time a needs assessment with some of the partners that will participate in the action research will take place (not at IICD partners) and a similar assessment about current learning practices should also be carried out under the organisations of the writers collective. In the next two weeks it will be more clear what that will mean for IICD. The action research for next year was also designed, but the key question for the next two year were the research areas which needed more deeper research. Also adding the voice of the south more. All of us will contribute more case studies like our thematic learning briefs, our Learn-Work trajectory and country learning reports. We concluded with a mood image of the whole week which was again an creative exercise to trigger your right brain. All in all a very inspirational, intensive and challenging workshop. Looking forward to continue this process in May.
Jan 28, 2010
Earlier this year Radio La Luna in Ecuador surprised us with the great documentary “Memorias de Quito”, a very interesti...
Earlier this year Radio La Luna in Ecuador surprised us with the great documentary “Memorias de Quito”, a very interesting proposal on recovering the collective memories marked by social and racial differences. La Luna is more than a radio station; it is a grassroots communication centre. In November, when I visited them, they were very enthusiastic to show me their computer lab, a 24-seat room based on thin client technology, NComputing. The seats are arranged in a “U” shape and in the centre a screen projector. Funds and knowledge were scarce, thus they had to use all the means available to make it happen.
Mauricio Velasco, project manager, told me they had to break down a wall between two offices to make a larger room. The furniture is simple, "we hired an electrician to set the cables, all the rest we do it by ourselves."
He said it was cheaper to buy the small black boxes (the clients) in US, so they imported them. The LCD screens, keyboards and mouse were bought locally. They couldn’t afford a real server thus they fed up a tower PC with extra RAM memory and powerful processors. Initially they had planned to run everything with open source software, the server as well as the clients. They couldn’t make the server work with Ubuntu, it seems they missed some drivers. So they switched to MS server. The clients do run Open Office, Gimp and Skype (is not open source but it is free).
Then they started the test period. Would so many seats work with the “server”? Could they Skype? Would the USB sticks work? Their approach was very empirical, they tested different scenarios and when they found problems they went to the online forums and tried to find similar problems other people had encounter and how they solved them.
This has been a whole learning experience, at the beginning they didn’t know much about thin client technology. But the whole process of selecting the equipment (choosing for the L-series that allows audio in/out and a USB port), designing the space u-shape in place of rows, installing the system and testing the performance, contacting the technicians from the national network (InfoDesarrollo) or searching in the web for answers. All this process, including the frustrations, generates ownership and embedding.
Not all is solved and a consultancy from the local NComputing provider will check on the setting and look at some bugs. But this is a minor thing.
Congratulations Radio La Luna!
Feb 08, 2008
It is not easy to give a training on Web 2.0 tools for development, when the internet connection is slower than Sylvestre’s ...
It is not easy to give a training on Web 2.0 tools for development, when the internet connection is slower than Sylvestre’s 2CV and power cuts paralyse the whole network. It is a daily reality in Ouagadougou nowadays. Whereas the internet connection in most countries is getting faster, the connection in Burkina is getting even slower.
Still, Mohamed Ag Acharom of Afriklinks managed to inspire more than thirty members of Burkina NTIC, the IICD supported national ICT4D network in Burkina Faso. He was invited by IICD to follow a web 2.0 course at the international conference Web2forDev in Rome in September. Since the national ICT4D networks in Mali and Burkina Faso had Web 2.0 training high on their priority list, IICD asked Mohamed to train both networks in Bamako and Ouagadougou.
Burkina NTIC made a film on Burkina blogs, which served as a perfect kick-off for the training. Participant Ibaranté Momo, manager of the Telecentre ADEN in Gaoua, commented: ‘I have always wanted to publish on the web, but I did not know how. Now I have seen the film on Burkina blogs, I want to know how to start my own blog.’
Apart from creating a blog, participants discovered how to use free, online tools to share bookmarks, documents, photos and videos, and to make free, online phone calls. Mohamed: ‘This is how you can create a wiki, for example titled ‘The Slow Connection’.’
Blogs captured the attention of the participants. Burkinabe bloggers in the film receive up to 2000 visitors per month. The blog provides ‘an exit door’ according to one blogger. They get reactions from all over the world, especially from the Burkinabe Diaspora. For them, blogs are a way to stay up to date and get unorthodox views on the developments in their home country. If the internet connection allows for it, the blogosphere will soon be besieged by Burkinabe blogs.
Participant Herman Ouedraogo, here with his grandmother in front of her house.
He now knows how to share this picture with the world using flickr.
Aug 22, 2007
It’s quite exciting to be part of a process that is causing a buzz in the ICT4Development circles. When I came on board more ...
It’s quite exciting to be part of a process that is causing a buzz in the ICT4Development circles. When I came on board more actively as part of the IICD team working on the upcoming Web2forDev conference (www.web2fordev.net), I was keen and curious to see what the conference would bring. But now, with still more than a month to go before the conference, I am already very excited – by the discussions going on online among participants and interested parties, by the diverse use of web 2.0 tools for exchanging and collaborating, by the stats!
Launched in March of this year by the collective of organisations working to harness the potential of Web 2.0 (or Social Networking) tools to support networking, collaborating and exchanging knowledge in agriculture, rural development and natural resources management, the acronym ‘Web2forDev’ has taken on a life of its own. If you searched for the term Web2forDev in Google 5 months ago, it returned a few relevant pages and information. Three months later when I searched again, it returned 39,000 results of pages that referred to the conference or the concept, people that were discussing the conference on their blogs, people that were critically assessing the potential and limitations of Web 2.0 tools for development, people that were passing information about the conference on to other networks and so on. Googling the term today returned 102,000 results!
Working with the collaborating partners and IICD-associated participants is equally as exciting. Representative members from the National ICT4D Networks IICD-supported countries are excited and gearing up to go. Bringing the stories, experiences and information needs from the members of their respective networks to the conference, and bringing the newly generated and collected knowledge and experiences back to their networks, they have a big job ahead of them! With 250 participants projected to attend the conference, and topics for discussion as varied as virtual spaces, (remote) collaboration, knowledge sharing, online publishing, and information retrieval and access, the potential for new knowledge creation is enormous. Already we as organisers have been using a vast array of tools to make possible the coordination of this event, including discussion groups, skype, wiki’s, Sharepoint, and more. Organisers and participants have been sharing their thoughts, suggestions and critiques using Dgroups, have been adding stories and experiences to the conference blogs, have been using a common tag to share relevant readings and resources and participants (social bookmarking), and have been disseminating information using RSS feeds. Relatively new online social networking sites are being used to network participants and get a sense for Who is Who before we all meet in person at the conference itself.
As one of the IICD staff working on the conference and coordination, I increasingly feel that we are part of a larger movement. A movement that combines concern for and belief in development, passion for the potential of technology, and wisdom gained from practical application and experience. And that I find exciting!
Jun 22, 2007
On some days, goals you have set foryourself, match perfectly yet mysteriously with those others have set forthemselves...
On some days, goals you have set for yourself, match perfectly yet mysteriously with those others have set for themselves. There is no better feeding ground for cooperation. Today is a day where the circle is completed, or is a higher power at work?
With the office of Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) in Bamako, I have agreed to explore possible synergies between our activities and those of SNV-Mali. In previous years I have subconsciously avoided Dutch development organizations in Mali. I expect the reason for this was twofold. On the one hand because I wanted our programme to develop and find it’s own way, and on the other because for us at IICD, our local partners are our main focus. I felt it more important, on my trips to Mali, to spend time with local partners. However, now that our programme has matured, I see a growing need to create strategic alliances with development partners who have a higher level of sectoral expertise than we do. In that regard, the longstanding track record of SNV in Mali, and the fact that their methodology lies in line with ours, offers many opportunities.
But the turning point for following up talk with action, is a recently published article in Capacity.org by Elsbeth Lodenstein and others about a health project by SNV and KIT in Mali. Through an action research project in the region of Koulikoro they have developed a methodology which helps the communication between local policy makers and basic health services to improve in previous years. One of the keys for improving communication and understanding turned out to be to make data more transparent and accessible. This allowed policy makers to feed their decision making processes with simple indicators. IICD partners are currently formulating a project proposal for “informatiseren van de data collectie” in the same region. Therefore it is self evident that it would be beneficial to bring the two teams together. With SNV staff I agreed to convene a meeting in six weeks time, during which both trajectories will be presented and discussed by the parties involved. Our partners can probably reap lessons learned from the experiences of SNV staff, and in turn, SNV staff can gain greater insight into the advantages of ICT in a similar process. In this way, both our partners and SNV have a concrete issue around which a first cooperation and collaboration can be formalized. Small scale and concrete, just the way I like it.
In the evening I visited Hugo Verkuijl, an old associate of mine who worked at KIT for many years and who just like me married a Malian. In cooperation with KIT he is now setting up the first biodiesel company in Mali. A very nice project making use of the seed of the Jatropha plant. In this project not only the environmental benefits are gained but also income generated for farmers by selling biodiesel and carbon credits. When we sit down for a drink on the beautiful terrace of hotel Mandé which spans over the Niger river, who do we bump into but a KIT-colleague of Hugo’s. He tells us that he has worked with SNV on a very nice programme in the health sector in the Koulikoro region. And we could read all about it in an article published recently with Elsbeth Lodenstein on Capacity.org….
Below: François Laureys(left) with Mr Joachim Tanoano, Minister for Post and ICT, and Mr Michèl Pepin, Programme Manager for ADEN in Burkina Faso