Monday, 29 September 2008

The future of development cooperation.

On Sunday 28 September in the Dutch TV programme “Buitenhof” Mr. Peter van Lieshout a member of the Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) was interviewed about the report this council is preparing on the future of the (Dutch) Development Cooperation. The report will be published in the second half of next year.

This interview is really interesting and gives much food for thought. For example an issue was whether a western value as Democratisation should really be a basic principle for good governance and a starting point for development?

For those who have missed the broadcast, you can see the video with this interview - in Dutch - here.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Social media: introducing the changes

An interesting article on 'e-Extension' (in agriculture in Australia) looks at ways the same web tools that ComPart is using can also be put to use in rural areas.

Particularly interesting is the author's discussion on 'models of leading change', where he briefly introduces 8 steps (from Kotter), linking them to different web 2.0 tools.

The 8 steps he identifies are:
  1. create a sense of urgency
  2. pull togethr the guiding team
  3. develop the change vision and strategy
  4. communicate for understanding and buy-in
  5. empower others to act
  6. produce short-term wins
  7. don't let up, and
  8. create a new culture
I wonder how we are doing in these respects with ComPart? A long way to go? More progress on some than on others? Food for thought as we take forward the results of our discussions in May (Utrecht) and June (Lisbon).

by Peter Ballantyne

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The How and What of the Programmatic Approach

On Wednesday September 17th about 85 attendants participated in the ICCO Open Space meeting about the Programmatic Approach.

At the end of this day a copy of the intermediate report was distributed among the participants. The final report including an appendix of the extra reports of this Open Space event is now available on

ICCO's Learning @Compart Wiki and was placed in the Programmatic Approach Wiki. In the sidebar of this wiki the documents are categorized under Meeting Reports

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Ethan Zuckerman comes to Amsterdam

An interview with Ethan Zuckerman about the role of new media and his work as founder of a an online citizen media community.
Africans’ creative uses of technology not only counter negative stereotypes of the continent, they also hint at its receptiveness to simple, efficient everyday innovations. “Individual citizens empowered with technology can be a very powerful force for transparency,” says Zuckerman.

Zuckerman is a featured speaker in the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam on Thursday September 25 at the Suprising Africa programme of the international new media event Picnic 08.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

About Network Learning & Connectivism

In September George Siemens and Stephen Downes co-facilitate an open online course on Connectivism & Connective Knowledge providing additional information in a support wiki for the course.

According to Siemens "Connectivism is a learning theory for the digital age. Learning has changed over the last several decades. The theories of behaviourism, cognitivism, and constructivism provide an effect view of learning in many environments. They fall short, however, when learning moves into informal, networked, technology-enabled arena"

In a handy table (published in a GoogleDoc) George Siemens indicates how prominent learning theories differ from connectivism (or perhaps network learning).

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Lessons learnt from the Interactive Learning Spaces of SNV

Accompanied by a colleague of the Human Resources Department and the Project Implementation Team R&D visited the Netherlands Development Organisation SNV in the Hague to hear about their lessons learnt with E-learning.

The visit was hosted by Mrs. Naa-aku Acquaye Baddoo telling us about their experiences with learning and development of staff in a decentralised organisation and the role that e-learning can play in the process.

In a separate meeting with Consultant Human Performance Improvement, Mrs. Gon Mostert of Panta Rhei Consultancy explained the advantages, the criteria for e-learning and technical details of e-modules. We talked about how e-learning fits in the perceptions of learning, how to obtain the proper learning content and how to present this well organized in a learning portal. Gon shared how their basic understanding of capacity development was developed and provided by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)in New York.

An interesting demonstration was given of SNVs virtual platform the Connector, including the so-called Interactive Learning Spaces. The overall goal of this virtual environment is to make learning accessible in a management culture that actively endorses learning activities. What SNV especially learnt of their practices was to take into account that one of the biggest bottlenecks can be the diversity in bandwidth at decentralised locations. Even after investing in the availability of satellites this problem occurred.

An important lesson learnt was to start small and to let it grow as you may gradually learn from evaluations or glorious mistakes. A practical thing is to provide learning modules on a USB stick instead of downloading huge files in the various decentralised situations.

Very successful is SNV's virtual orientation programme about the SNV organisation, set up in different modules for all novice workers. A major advantage of the e-modules are the consistent messages in the initial phase of ones career within the organisation.

At SNV E-learning is always part of a blended learning approach with different work forms applied. Included are face to face meetings, self study (e.g. using the e-modules), dialogue and discussion platforms. We learned that a big variety of off the shelf training may be obtained from NetG, Microsoft and the Distance Learning Centre (UK). A provider in the Netherlands of video material for training purposes is the Training Facily Center (TFC).

Gon Mostert advised to keep the technology for the learner as simple as possible and to enhance the learning results by making optimal use of the visual as well as the auditive learning components.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

'Un-conferences' as open, participatory workshop-events

This morning I shared with some colleagues that I attended an inspiring so-called 'un-conference' and added to say that un-conferences are held in the popular Barcamps workform. A social event type that is rapidly emerging in the United States' (although the very first Barcamp was held in Amsterdam!!).

Interpreting their non-verbal response it was obvious that I was speaking nonsense, using the terms 'un-conference' and 'barcamps' asks for an explanation.

Thanks to network connections to our Compartuser tool I ran into a wiki that shows that 'un-conferences' are also in swing in the Development field.

'BarcampKampala - Appfrica Wiki' explains that a Barcamp "is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from participants"

For the doubters among you here is a quote from the wikipedia description that tells it all: 'BarCamp is an international network of un-conferences — open, participatory workshop-events, whose content is provided by participants — focusing on early-stage web applications, and related open source technologies and social protocols.'