Monday, 26 May 2008

Togetthere goes for team training on Compart

On 22nd May I took part in a team training on CompartFlower, organised for Togetthere, the youth programme of ICCO & Kerk in Actie. It was the first CompartFlower team training organised, with the purpose of not only getting acquainted with the techniques but, foremost, to discuss and plan application of Compart tools in the work of the team.
During trainings I followed lately I got the impression Compart tools could be of much use in programmes of Togetthere. Togetthere aims at involving youth in development issues by supporting them in a voluntary experience, paid job or group travel. Also, Togetthere supports young people in activities that contribute to growing support for development cooperation in the Netherlands (

It was by coincidence that, during one of the trainings, I sat next to Birthe Paul. Before her work with Euforic she had worked as a volunteer in Togo, a secondment facilitated by the German organisation ASA. She told me how ASA uses wiki’s to organise youth secondments and keep youth involved afterwards. This convinced me even more of the usefulness of a training for Togetthere. Not so much by coincidence this time was that ICCO and Euforic had just planned for team trainings..

Apart from my team members two junior experts took part in the training: Wendy and Adine. They are currently in the preparatory phase of their secondments to (respectively) Honduras and Pakistan. Their participation was a pilot to decide if CompartFlower training should become standard part of the training package for junior experts.

After an introduction in Compart and Flower we were introduced to experiences of Dirkje, junior expert at OCDIH (Honduras), who is currently working with D-groups within the partner organisation on institutional learning and with other Dutch professionals in the field on capacity assessment and development. Besides, her blog keeps a really large public at home involved in her experiences. Birthe explained, while showing the wiki’s, how ASA applies wiki successfully in its work. These experiences were of much use to get a clearer picture of how tools can successfully be applied in our kind of work.
Togetthere and the junior experts discussed seperately to which needs CompartFlower can be an answer, and which tools should (how) be applied.

The most important outcomes of the discussion of Togetthere are:
- While all youngsters seconded already use weblogs, we could standardize the use of blogger (with Togetthere lay-out) for this purpose. Blogger has several advantages over other blog applications, including the one on the Togetthere site.
- We want to use wiki to communicate with young people involved in our programmes, as well as with partners in Netherlands, Europe and Southern countries. Each of the four programmes should maybe have its own wiki. Information to be shared include: trainings (practical details and content), practical information that help youngsters prepare for going abroad, country/culture information, … (more to be generated).
- We could possibly use wiki for getting and keeping young people involved in the work of Togetthere, and in issues of development cooperation, ICCO & Kerk in Actie in particular. It could create bigger ownership and a sense of being able to make a difference.
- Another idea that was raised (not for the first time) is to develop a team blog on which we share news and experiences with our target groups, especially young people (willing to) participate in our programmes.

The junior experts Wendy and Adine concluded that:
- They expect to make use of the D-group CAD, exchanging with other (junior) experts on dilemma’s in capacity development.
- Another D-group could possibly be used to link up (more informally) to other juniors, which would be an answer to the felt need to communicate with fellow young professionals on their secondments (they now feel rather alone).
- It’s very recommendable to have a wiki on which young professionals could find all relevant information on secondments, in order to support their preparation. This also includes country/culture information (to be constructed by former young professionals).
- Besides, it would be worthwhile to have a personal tool (wiki?) to use as kind of working archive during their preparation. For this purpose a CompartFlower training should be given at the beginning of their preparation.
- They support the idea to standardize using blogger by all those seconded by Togetthere.

We concluded the training had a very motivating impact. We will surely continue the discussion in order to implement tools in our work. Thanks, Pier and Maarten!

Judith Grootscholten

flowers, blogs en feeds

Als je naar de titel kijkt lijkt het erop dat ik vandaag een cursus macro biotisch groenten telen heb gevolgd. Niets is minder waar. Vandaag wegwijs in de electronische systemen van ICCO (ComPart), interessant

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