Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The art of asking questions

'The person who is doing the talking, is the one who is learning the most! ' It is an 'old wisdom' still applicable, when a training or facilitation event is conducted. According to research, people remember;
  • only a maximum of 10 - 15 %, when they received information through a presentation;
  • 40 - 50 %, when they have been discussing about a topic, which keep them engaged;
  • 70 - 75 %, when they have been practising with the new knowledge and skills;
  • 80 - 90 %, when they have been applying the new knowledge in their work.

People learn most, when they are actively involved and make the knowledge practical. However behavioural change in applying new knowledge, can only work when people have the right attitude; openess, willingness to change and motivation. The right conditions such as time to learn and experiment, support from management and colleagues and financial resources need to be in place to enable people to change. According to the brainlearning principles, it takes around 6 weeks to adapt new behaviour. This was some of the information, which was shared during the two-day training 'Basic facilitation methods & knowledge transfer' at the Hendrik Kreamer Institute (HKI) on the 23rd and 26th May, 2011. Participants from ZHHK and IccoenKerkinactie attended this course to enable them to improve their skills in guiding and empowering groups. The training, led by Simon Koolwijk, was composed of discussions, demonstration of basic methods and practicals including feedback.

Listening, summarizing and asking (LSA) are some of the key methods a facilitator is using in enabling a group to move forward. The facilitator is like a mirror. He bounches back questions all the time and helps you to discover new insights', commented one of the participants. 'LSA is a very useful tool!'. ' The basic conversation methods and the workshop methods (both ToP methods) are helpful tools in structurizing a discussion. I am going definitely going to apply them'. commented another participant.
Resistance and dealing with emotions are another interesting aspect of facilitation. 'What if you have participants in the meeting, who have been sent by their director but have not clearified their own motivations? ' or 'what to do when there is a hidden conflict in the group?' The pitfall of a facilitator is to persue his agenda. 'Facilitation is about being in the here and now!', comments Simon Koolwijk. 'If people show four of their basic emotions (fear, anger, joy or sadness), you start to ask in-depth questions and try to address and to identify what is most important for the group at that moment of time'. 'If the most important issues of today's reality are not dealt with and listened to, people will not have the motivation to listen and talk about the future directions of a group', shares Simon Koolwijk. 'Asking in-depth questions helps you to build understanding', says one of the participants. 'By getting to a deeper level, you take time to listen to opinions of others. It helps to create a joint group feeling'. 'Facilitation is not just doing a trick or applying a structured method. It is an art to ask the right questions at the right moment to enable the group to move forward!' Read more about asking the right questions in the Art of the Focused Conversation.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Building capacities by Participatory Video (PV)

Young people building relationships with adults in their community!
Showing your identity as a youngster by initiating activities in the community!
Creative thinking and teambuilding!
Expressing hopes and dreams as a youngster!
Members from youth clubs, coming from 4 different villages in Moldova, produced in the final stage of the two-year project 'Youth in the Center' a participatory video showing their accomplishments as a team.
Participatory Videomaking (PV) is not only fun! It is also about building capacities as a team. The process stimulates people's imagination. It strengthens the team and it is another phase in building a history as a group. Video is an effective media tool for informing other stakeholders and interested groups, especially through social media such as facebook, twitter and odnoklasniki.
Recently the four participatory videos were uploaded and published at youtube. Following are the video's.
See video; Youth club 'Ying/ Yang' in Vadul Rascov

See video; Youth club 'Pro Young' in Ulmu

See video; Youth club in Cotiujenii Mari

See video; Youth club in Varnita

More about the process of Participatory Videomaking, >>>>> read and watch PV in Ulmu
More about the presentation of the videos at the final conference 'Youth (R)Evolution 24-25 March, 2011, >>>>> read and watch Youngsters present Participatory Videos - Moldova
The project 'Youth in the Center' is aimed at building sustainable structures for youth development in Moldova. The first phase of the project was implemented between April 2009 and March 2011 by Procommunity Centre in co-operation with Kontakt der Kontinenten (Netherlands), Windesheim - University of Social Work (Netherlands), Proni Center for Social Education (Croatia) and local youth development organisations and institutions in Moldova.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The online versus the face-to-face facilitator

If you are a good and effective facilitator in face-to-face meetings, does it mean you are also a high performing online facilitator? Online facilitation requires another way of thinking, acting and communication. You don't see the facial expressions. Body language and non-verbal interactions between people are absent. An online facilitator looks from a different perspective at people's participation in groups. 'By reading sentences and comments in discussions, you get a sixth sense in noticing people's sentiments', explains Sibrenne Wagenaar. 'If an issue is important and crucial, you start to ask in-depth questions.'

The' facilitator and social media' was the main theme of a workshop, which was organized by the International Associaction of Facilitators - Benelux on the 19th May 2011 at Seats2Meat in Utrecht. The two authors of the book 'En_Nu_Online', Sibrenne Wagenaar and Joitske Hulsebosch shared their experiences on how the today's facilitator can integrate social media tools in their intervention processes. How to deal and play the role of the online facilitator? was one of the main topics during this workshop.
See video: Photo impressions workshop 'Facilitator and social media'
'Fifty percent of an online facilitators' communication is outside a virtual discussion', says Sibrenne Wagenaar. 'When an online discussion is going on the facilitator has regular contact with individual participants. For example: Just inquiring how somebody is doing, when he was two weeks travelling for work and silent in a discussion. Or asking somebody to share their expertise, when you know through informal information that he has been attending an interesting workshop. An online facilitator is constantly checking the processes that are going on in the group and connecting people to people.'

'An online facilitator is the key person who gets the process going', tells Joitske Hulsebosch. 'He should not only know about group dynamics, but also about social media tools. The literature (Jane Hart) distinguishes three models on how to apply social media in e-learning processes', explains Joitske Hulsebosch.

1. Wrap Around Model; Using social media before, between and after face-to-face meetings. For example a joint weblog which is used for collecting expectations for a workshop or using a Ning platform to get acquainted with each other.
2. Integrated model: The primary focus of the learning process is the content. An online community platform is functioning as a meeting place, where information, resources and discussions are shared. Through face-to-face meetings and online discussions, people use the platform for doing specific tasks and assignments. Applications such as Blackboard, Moodle or wiki platforms are regulary used in such a model.
3. Collaboration model: Social learning and co-operation are the foundation of this learning process. Contents and new knowledge is created by the participants. Brainstorming, co-creation and intensive cooperation are characteristics of this model. Tools such as google doc's, wiki, discussion groups and skype are applied in this model.

'Facilitating an online discussion group takes average a half day of work in a week', says Joitske Hulsebosch. Other roles of an online facilitator are:
· To summarize discussions
· To facilitate participants' feedback and evaluations
· To assist in preparing the key questions, topics or case studies to ensure participation of the community
· To create a safe atmosphere by maintaining the ground rules, keeping control of the rythm and time span of the discussions and facilitating energizers and fun in between content discussions
· To ensure that technical requirements are working, so that participants are not hindered by technical problems
'Of course there are many similarities with a face-to-face facilitator', says Joitske Hulsebosch. 'It is all about building relationships! '
More about the publication 'En_Nu_Online' read the blogspot article at Simon Koolwijk's blog. More about Joitske's en Sibrenne's services on online facilitation can be read at the blog 'Online Faciliteren en meer'.
IAF-Benelux will be organizing their annual Conference on the 23rd September, 2011 at Kontakt der Kontinenten in Soesterberg. The main theme of the Conference is 'Faciliteren als {2e} beroep. People can register themselves through the website of IAF-Benelux and 'Faciliteren als {2e} beroep.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Capacity development is about building relationships!

Listening to what keeps people involved! Getting to know people and create the right conditions, which help people to build their identity, realize their hopes & dreams are the main important things a capacity development advisor can do in building local sustainable structures for development.

These were some of the conclusions and lessons which were shared during the training capacity development (conducted by Simon Koolwijk), which was held on the 9th and 11th May, 2011 at the Hendrik Kraemer Institute in Utrecht. Three development advisors working for ZHHK in Malawi and Suriname were guided in their process on 'how to think through and tackle an intervention in building sustainable structures for church work.

Let people take responsibility and make them to discover what works and not works?; shared the participants. Development is about building relationships. If you have gained the trust from others and shown you are ready to make a long term investment in the community, people are also willing to make an investment. A lot of consultancy work in organisational development is about listening, talking and asking the right questions. Mostly people already know the solutions, but miss a stimulus or positive fresh approach in clearifying their hopes and dreams. It are not the methods, tools or management systems that are successfull, but common sense and a human centered approach are crucial for sustainable results.

Just a discussion after a church ceremony on sunday's can already be a simple moment to build capacities. In case these meetings become a part of people's rythm, you can start people to stimulate to take responsibility. They can share rituals about their own culture, organize a meal or provide input on how to build a church council. These were some of the ideas which were shared at the training.

As part of the training the development advisors got a practical task to analyse the current status of their partner organisation through an organisational life cycle and a SWOT-analysis. Based on their job description, the three advisors presented a draft plan of action for their capacity development intervention. Main purpose of the exercise was to get a deeper insight about the philosophy of capacity development. In most case the 'draft plans', differ from the real plans and implemented activities, since organisational development is a process involving local stakeholders and decision makers. The participation of local people is crucial in making your capacity development intervention to a success!

A lot of tips and suggestions on how to gain results in capacity development through relationships building, you can find at 'Barefoot Guide', 'Capacity4Dev.eu' and 'Everything you always wanted to know about capacity development'.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Measuring development of young people's capacities on video

Young people present in front of an audience having 90 people including government officials, NGO representatives and youth workers from civil society organisations. High government officials, including a deputy minister and vice speaker of parliament shows the project implementers' relations with the authorities.
Measuring development
Youth (R)Evolution was the theme of the closing conference of the project 'Youth in the Center'. During the project youth clubs were initiated by young people in 4 Moldovan villages; Ulmu, Vadul Rascov, Cotiujenii Mari and Varnita. All clubs were able to develop support structures of adults guiding them in their development. Each club secured an adult coordinator, got space from the local municipality to have a physical meeting place and relations were developed with other locally and international based youth work organisations for support.
Video is one of the means showing how young people's capacities have been developing during the project period of two years. Young people debate and discuss with adults as equal partners, they are not afraid to speak up, build networks and have confidence to give presentations.
See video: Conference Youth (R)Evolution, 24 - 25 March, 2011

Process of videomaking
Videomaking can be done participatory. This is a process involving different stakeholders or group members who jointly develop a story, design a story board with video shots, film, watch and discuss, film and discuss again and finally edit. All this is done with the support of a facilitator and professional videomaker.
When you do it individually, it is less time consuming. You miss the interaction to make a production jointly, but it is till fun to do. Similar to the participatory videomaking the process can be tackled on a structured and plannified way; develop the story, plan the video shots, film and edit. Intuitive videomaking is another approach. You just film what comes up to your mind and you take all kind of different shots. By the end of each day, you watch and analyse the different videos. Through this the story gradually starts to develop. Finally enough material is available to compile and do the editing. This is how the Youth (R)Evolution was developed and compiled to a 8-minute production.
Technical equipment for production
User friendly, relatively low cost and good quality digital video camera's (JVC, Sony, Canon) are available to document qualitative indicators, such as attitude, involvement, body language and enthousiasm. Flip videocamera's, nowadays, are very popular for such measurement purposes. They are easy to use and fast in transfering video material to a hard disk.
When you using a laptop for uploading your video's, a hard disk (preferably 2 Tyka bytes) is necessary. Otherwise you might risk a crash of your disk at your laptop. For editing both Final Pro Cut (Maccintosh users) or Adobe Premiera Elements (Windows) have excellent software for video editing. When you finally produce a video you can either choose a MPEG or a AVI format. The last has a higher quality, but takes more bytes and time to upload it on youtube or another video platform.
For voice over you can either use a computer based audio recorder, such as Audacity. Or a handoperated voice-recorder, such as Olympus. For music you can best choose for locally produced songs. In case of music produced by professional musicians, you have to check their permission about authors rights.
Project 'Youth in the Center'
'Youth in the Center' is implemented by Procommunity Centre, a Moldovan NGO focusing on youth development. They cooperate with Kontakt der Kontinenten (Netherlands), University of social work - Windesheim (Netherlands), Proni Centre of Social Education (Croatia) and local NGO's and institutions on youth work. The project is financed by Matra, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
For more information about the outcomes of the conference, read Youth (R)Evolution 24 - 25 March, 2011. The participatory video's of each youth club are available at Youtube. See video: Ulmu youth, Cotiujenii Mari youth, Varnita youth & Vadul Rascov youth.