Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Setting up online learning communities is just like learning to skate inline

This year 2011 the digital energy within the ICCO Alliance has been mostly dedicated to the setup and give life to the Learning Communities (LC’s). Several LC now have been formed around the themes the Alliance is working on together with its partners in a large number of programmes. And yes, it was confirmed again: people sometimes believe online facilitation simply happens, that it is something like breathing that everyone can do automatically. But fast skating inline down a frozen canal is a better metaphor. To skate inline you need first to learn to walk, then to skate and then skate well and finally to skate with other people. And like skating, online facilitation is best learnt with and from other people by doing it. However you always need the right weather and ice conditions to skate. Anyhow many colleagues within the Alliance have really put lots of energy and creativity in the setup and animation of their community. Need assessments have taken place, as well as discussions during face to face meetings about how to continue to deepen ideas and share experiences while working around the world. The LC’s Private Sector Cooperation, Basic Health and HIV and Food and Nutrition Security definitely have ‘taken off’.

Lately we have been talking with a quite a number of the facilitators, which was a really motivating and inspiring round of conversations. The feedback they gave us showed that most are struggling with ‘what’ and ‘how’ they need to do to energise the communities, help them become vivid and interesting for the members. The idea now is to develop, together with all facilitators, ways of working with their communities that really aim at usefulness for all members. As it is in our DNA, we’ll be practice what we preach and have started already to discuss these issues online in the ‘facilitators’ learning community’ and we’ll deepen this conversations in a couple of online sessions which will be held beginning of 2012.