The new e-learning platform Project Cycle Management interactive (PCMi) is online. It’s a flexible platform for blended and self-directed learning. Rate your competencies for an individual study plan or access the material for further reading. (more…)
A recent lunch event at SDC in Bern sparked some interesting thinking. It featured guest speaker Kerstin Kude-Osman from the Academy for International Cooperation, a part of the German development agency GIZ. Kerstin told us about the recently developed Joint Learning Journey (JLJ) method, which is a way to bring small groups of people involved and interested in a particular set of issues together, to come up with effective and innovative ways of doing things better. (more…)
Are you at the point to start planning for your next face-to-face workshop, seminar or learning event of your network? Kick-start your planning with a short checklist to gear up your learning event. (more…)
Dgroups is used as a communication tool within most of SDC’s thematic networks, allowing both the channel of information through newsletters as well as e-discussions among network members. Carsten Schulz from AGRIDEA reflects on his own experience with Dgroups as a tool and his evolution from a sceptical and critical reviewer to an “aficionado” of the newly designed next.Dgroups platform. (more…)
The Agriculture and Food Security Network recently organized its face to face meeting. Planning such an event in a network surrounding poses particular challenges. The face to face not only entails the exchange of content but should also foster community building and give participants a chance to share their personal expertise. In today’s blog contribution the network’s core group takes stock of the planning process of their event and its realisation. How is the preparation work best organised and coordinated? How can methodological and thematic coherence be assured? How can quality of inputs be guaranteed?
By Core Group Agriculture and Food Security Network
“Good practice” or even “best practice” are ubiquitous terms in international cooperation, commonly designating one of the keys to successful development work. In SDC, particular network-structures for learning in thematic domains have been conceived to continuously “develop Good Technical Practice”. Yet, what does this mean at all? With today’s article the SDC Knowledge and Learning processes division introduces a new electronic working aid, meant as practical guidance for new SDC-staff, as resourcekit for more experienced ones.
By Michèle Marin
“Good practice” or even “best practice” are ubiquitous terms in international cooperation and the running issue of any Learning Organisation. In SDC, particular network-structures have been conceived to “develop Good Practice” in selected technical areas (e.g. Water, Gender, financial management etc.). Commonly designating one of the keys to successful development work, it is yet hard to seize what the notion implies. Often used in relation with technical competence in a particular thematic area, e.g. the “how to do” in agriculture, it can equally designate more general procedural and methodological quality of interventions.
In fact, the buzz word hides quite a story – let me illustrate it by one… (more…)
This blog post explores the guides on e-facilitation and on linking f2f events and online dialogues in more detail. The guides are part of a set of interlinked guidelines available on the website of the SDC Learning and Networking Division. Two users of the guides on these closely related issues share their first reactions, personal reflections and further lessons from their daily work. (more…)
Recently, there was a meeting in USAID on complexity theory and development. DEVCO is developing guidance on political economy analysis. The World Bank just published a research paper on participation that singles out standard management approaches as main reasons why participatory approaches normally do not work. In our business, when the big ones start talking about something, there is change in the air. And in fact similar developments are taking place in most donor agencies. (more…)
Three years after thematic networks were created within SDC, the Learning and Networking team felt it was a good moment to capitalise the organisation’s experience in supporting networks and make collective learning available to a broader audience. This was done in form of seven interlinked mini guides (illustrated below) on e-facilitation, nurturing networks, roles and responsibilities within networks, managing membership, linking face to face (f2f) events and online dialogues, social reporting on f2f events and planning f2f events. The choice of issues shows that the guides are not only relevant for network Focal Points and Steering Group members, but also for other people working at or with SDC. The guides can be viewed online or downloaded as pdf files from the website of the Learning and Networking Division. (more…)
by Kuno Schläfli, Romana Tedeschi, Katharina Walker, Michael Reimann, Matthias Boss, and Adrian Gnägi
SDC used to be structured as a matrix organization. Operational geographic units managed funds and local context, technical units managed thematic knowledge, and together they were thought to implement effective projects. This setup became perceived to have improvement potential. In 2008, technical units were replaced by learning and exchange networks. One of the justifications for this move was that guidance and policies elaborated by the technical units were sometimes perceived to be too abstract, too general, not enough evidence based. One of the expectations towards the newly created networks therefore was that their guidance should look, feel, and act differently – “experience based good practice” was the orientation received. This post documents one of the first attempts by one of the new networks to distill “experience based good practice”.
SDC’s “decentralization and local governance network” (dlgn) met for its first-ever face-to-face encounter in November 2009 in Delhi. (more…)
Experience documentation on e-discussion campaigns with consolidated replies: A dlgn learning project on donor support for local government finances
by Bertha Camacho and Adrian Gnägi
Solution Exchange pioneered a structured way to conduct e-discussions, called “e-discussion campaigns with consolidated replies”. The structure of those e-discussions looks like this:
- A query is posted on the e-forum of a network and experience carriers are invited to post replies within a pre-determined time frame. Frequently, the moderator supports members with the wording of the query, making sure the query is short, easy to understand and appealing to be answered.
- Moderators lobby experienced network members to post replies in the e-forum. This lobbying is worked mostly over the phone. According to Solution Exchange, it is the major time investment of the e-moderator.
- When the discussion campaign is over, the e-moderator sums up the discussion in a “consolidated reply”. The e-moderator condenses the main messages into an easy-to-understand analytical summary and includes all individual contributions in full into the document.
By Michèle Marin
Are you about to plan a new working aid or revising an existing guiding document? Are you trying to figure out what a “good and modern” tool is all about and how it is best elaborated? Find lessons, recommendations and inspiration for innovative products based on a recent exchange among SDC Focal Points and LerNetz AG. There are always sufficient reasons for reflecting on adequate formats of guiding documents and working aids in the international cooperation context: The existing formats have been developed in a particular political and institutional context, responding to concrete mandates and contextual challenges at a specific point in organisational or political history.
Are the traditional formats still the right answers to the challenges of today? Are we making best use of our technological infrastructure to design learning and communication? And, what will be an adequate format by the end of often lengthy production-processes in fast changing contexts? Several SDC networks are about to review their existing technical guiding-documents and check them for accuracy in contents and format. With a recent revision of competencies the responsibility for working documents is laid into the network’s hands, while the corporate provisions regarding format, volume and design have been loosened. (more…)
By Manuel Flury
SDC operates in fields such as skills development, water and sanitation, rural livelihoods, micro finances, municipal development or community based health care. It is active in poorest, conflict prone and fragile states via direct bilateral aid and through programmes of multilateral organisations. The portfolio includes sector budget support, capacity development, infrastructure work and related policy work. SDC collaborates with a wide range of public, private enterprise and civil society partners.
High quality of its thematic and technical work has always been a trade mark of Swiss Cooperation. This level of competence is at great risk! SDC is about to lose its thematic excellence. Administering larger junks of development funds is becoming characteristic for SDC’s development work. Despite this overall trend, the importance of excellence and competence in what SDC is doing is repeatedly stressed. The question, however, what the fields of (thematic and technical) competence of Swiss Cooperation would be remains unanswered, still, and already for many years. (more…)
Kuno, you have always used photography in your professional life. Why do you do this? What is the value added of visual means in international cooperation, compared to classical tools of communication and expression such as written reports, booklets, etc?
- Photos speak a more universal language than formulated text in a specific language. Photos can better be understood by persons not familiar with a professional context. Of course, an image must always be interpreted in relation to the cultural background of the person who looks at it: an Ethiopian child would probably not read the same message from a photo showing a group of young people outside a bar in Berne on a cold winter evening as you or me would. (more…)
By Michèle Marin
By now, a series of the SDC networks have come up with their first international f2f meetings. Their experiences reveal a few recurrent lessons to be learned, and trigger questions on how to best manage an f2f event. The SDC Learning & Networking team reflects upon them in a loose series of blog posts. This third post looks into a number of questions with logistical implications, such as country and venue, translation modalities, presence of participants and side events. (more…)
By Manuel Flury
The Knowledge and Learning Processes Division of SDC intends to award a prize for “good learning” to collaborators of the organisation. For that matter we launched a debate in the km4dev community seeking examples of “good learning practices”. Besides of many proposals, documented learning from failures was proposed.
After visiting colleagues at their work place and getting to understand how they learn in their daily practice we became aware of the importance of self-initiative, of the key role of superiors to let them do what they intend to do and of the transformative power of such individual initiatives for the whole organisation.
Good learning combines ”doing things better” and “transforming the way, things are being done”, i.e. the individual and the institutional aspect of learning.