Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Euforic workshop on Web2.0 - tools

April 10-11, I attended the euforic workshop on Introducing Blogs, Wikis, Newsfeeds and RSS, hosted by ECDPM in Maastricht. The purpose of my participation was to increase my knowledge of web-based collaborative tools for use in equalinrights’ work, particularly in relation to building relationships with and among human rights and development practitioners in our network. The workshop complemented ongoing research on such tools that I had been conducting with intern Florence Adong. Following the workshop I was to hold a “mini-training” with the rest of equalinrights’ staff, to share what I had learned. This took place on 21 April at equalinrights’ office, with all staff present.

The workshop was very hands-on. The trainers made the sessions fun and interactive, and were overall very knowledgeable about the tools they introduced and welcomed questions.
The first session of the workshop established the main differences between the World Wide Web in the 20th Century and in the 21st Century. The trainers highlighted the following in regards to using the “new web”:

5 Basic Approaches: Management - Tools

• Publishing online – Blogging
• Working together on a document – Wikis
• Keywording your work – Tagging
• A new interface – Feeds
• Bringing info together – Mashup (e.g., euforic website)

5 Important Points
• All about people – collaboration and shared understanding
Access – keep in mind that not everyone has high bandwidth
Motivation – key to help people understand the benefits
Content – still same issues of content management, e.g., risks, guidelines
Impact – measure what you’re doing

The next day and a half we explored four main tools of the “new web”:

Finding information – let it come to you!
RSS, Feeds, Tagging, Googology

Making the news – blogging, video blogging, podcasting
120Mill created since 2003; Appeal to high # of small audiences

Social bookmarking – creating/sharing knowledge and information
The favorite of the development field is – store, organize, share, search,

Wikis – creating content collaboratively
A wiki is a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or
modify content, using a simplified markup language. Wikis are often used to create collaborative
websites and to power community websites.

I found the workshop very relevant for equalinrights’ work. Other than providing an opportunity to enhance my familiarity with online tools, and that of our staff in general, the workshop has led to several proposed changes in equalinrights’ way of working and some new potential projects. Specifically:

  1. Set up and facilitate a collaborative, semi-private online space (wiki, incorporating other online tools such as blogs, instant chat) for practitioners in our network to use in documenting and sharing their knowledge, experience and contacts. Equalinrights will set up and test the wiki, and also develop a short, multimedia training – available online – about how to use it.
  2. Feature the work (practices, events, resources) of HRBD practitioners in equalinrights newsletter and website in multimedia formats including photos and audio/video clips.
  3. Potentially set up and facilitate online collaborative spaces for joint projects on transformative human rights learning and treaty body monitoring.
  4. Equalinrights requested by Aprodev in April 2008 to provide recommendations on communications tools to enhance its work. Request completed; possibility for equalinrights to set up and test online collaborative space for Aprodev during the 2nd half of 2008.

The only difficulty I experienced with the training was the volume of new information. Despite the hands-on nature of the workshop, my note taking both during and after the sessions, and the task of sharing my new knowledge with my colleagues, there were still elements I did not remember fully. Learning to use the various tools takes practice – which takes time! If equalinrights is to initiate setting up and facilitating collaborative online spaces, we need to commit staff time to “play” with the tools and get to know the ins and outs better. Also, I recommend that a member of staff attend the next, more advanced training session that euforic will offer on online tools, to take place this September in Den Haag.

Megan Brown, EqualinRights

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