Online Peer Assist Experiments


Online Peer Assist Experiments

We are experimenting with doing online Peer Assists for KM4Dev in this group. We will run a couple of experiments, then debrief our learnings. We decided to use the NING group and then report out on the full KM4Dev list. Everyone is welcome to join!

Members: 22
Latest Activity: Dec 14, 2020

Introduction to Our First Peer Assist

Our first peer assist will be with Yennenga. Our guest peer assist facilitators will be Alejandro, Bonnie, Catherine, Ednah, Johannes and Nancy. Our goal is to both offer Yennenga a peer assist, and to consider how to do peer assists online. For more about peer assists, check out this entry in the KS Toolkit: Peer Assists.


We think we will start addressing one question at a time, using the comment wall. So we'll post each question, then ask everyone to ask any clarifying questions on that first question. Then we will offer ideas and experiences on that question. Following, Yennega will post what she learned and will do next. Then we'll move on to the next question. At least that is the plan. Here is Yennenga's situation and questions:

To sum up the situation :


Imagine 6,000 illiterate women living in villages across west Africa (Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal). Some grow crops, others transform agriculture product, others are craftmakers or small sellers. Although they work  really hard, they earn very little wage from those activities.

Three years ago, those women gathered into a network; the aim is to strengthen and share their experiences in three main areas : microfinance, environment, and women's empowerment. A team of local facilitators help them. But their facilitation capacities have to be strengthened.

Three months ago, I joined that rural women network, in order to help them better manage the knowledge production and sharing. I would like to start with five actions.


1. To capitalise, map and profile the job of "local facilitator" and then Produce a toolkit for the facilitators (what and how?) Facilitated by: Catherine  


2. Identify and train some of the women in KM (success stories recording and telling for example). Facilitated by: Alejandro


3. Identify and train local trainers in agriculture products conservation and transformation techniques. Facilitated by: Bonnie.


4. To set up a monitoring and evaluation tool that will help assess the evolution of the members of the network. Facilitated by:


Can KM4Dev change the lives of those 6, 000 women? How do I help do all that, in a sustainable and profitable way for the network? I have a voice recorder, a digital camera, a laptop and a skype account. How do I do that, to be able to develop their autonomy in KM4dev and make my presence unnecessary  after two years?



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Comment Wall


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Comment by Nancy White on May 22, 2013 at 3:01am

Catherine, this just goes to show us that personal context is incredibly relevant!

Comment by Catherine Fisher on May 22, 2013 at 12:05am

ha ha!   Are you suggesting that a) you would stick within the larger KM4Dev community - or b) gone off with a little break out group but just use an email list not this platform ? 

advantage of sticking with bigger list is the huge depth and breadth of knowledge there to tap into, disadvantage is the fast pace of discussion, it would be unlikely to focus in the way we did on Yennenga's questions. 

if you are suggesting going off in a little group  the advantage of this platform is its relative transparency which allowed people to join 'late' - was also useful for me to have all of the discussion in one place not buried in my inbox.  

Comment by Nancy White on May 21, 2013 at 11:26pm

I would have stuck to an email list! :-) But it was good to experiment here and that in itself is of value!

Comment by Catherine Fisher on May 21, 2013 at 10:06pm

as a moderator it was interesting balancing act between saying too much and not saying enough!  I've been thinking about the experience in comparison with

a) "normal" online discussions I have facilitated in the past (ie those that generally discuss a topic rather than a particular challenge someone is facing) and

b) with sametime/sychronous peer assists whether face to face or via teleconf...

 I share Nancy's comment about being starved for time, so the process didnt get as much attention as I should have given it...

- becuase it was a small group - which I think is necessary for a peer assist - I didn't feel I should do the kind of off list encouragement to post that I might in a larger email discussion.... 

- the stages of peer assist about rounds of clarification followed by sharing ideas work really well in a synchronous converstation,  I think they were powerful here as we learned more about Yennenga's work - and I suspect this was useful for Yennenga too - but I wonder if the energy dropped - if everyone had been able to pile in with ideas as they do on the main KM4Dev list perhaps more would have happened..

So personally I think the focus on one case really works even in an asychonous context... I think this would work better if people were clearer on process and timeline and technology. 

Please be honest about the moderation too - what would YOU have done that I didn't!  

Comment by Johannes Schunter on May 21, 2013 at 5:41pm

I must say too that time was a major concern. What also tricked me was my assumption that I would receive email notifications automatically, while in fact I had to subscribe explicitly  That's why I missed out on the first week of discussion.

Apart from that, I still think it's a worthwhile exercise, and thanks to all who contributed! A main challenge (in my case) I guess is to avoid spitting out pre-packaged answers prematurely. But I think the moderator handled that well.

Finally, I think it would help to have a better overview in the beginning what is going to happen when. At one point I was not sure if the discussion had already started, or whether we were still waiting for the kick-off.  Some kind of agenda with a clear timetable could maybe help?

Comment by Nancy White on May 21, 2013 at 5:27am

I learned a lot from everyone, but I confess, I was a bit disappointed that more KM4Dev members did not chime in as there is a ton of knowledge in this area. I think we all are starved for time, so paying full attention is still a challenge!!!

Comment by Catherine Fisher on May 16, 2013 at 10:58pm

Yennenga was called away and has had limited internet access.  She is going to share her reflections on what she learned with us next week.

In the mean time would be interested to hear any reflections on this experimental asynchronous online peer assist!   A few prompt questions below. Please be clear that you are talking about the process and not providing more ideas for Yennenga : ) soooo....
What worked and felt good?
What didn't feel so great?
What do you feel you learned about this kind of online peer assist process?
What would you do more of less of/differently?
Would you do it again? 

Comment by Nancy White on May 10, 2013 at 5:56pm

Yup, granddaughter #2 arrived yesterday, 8lbs 12 oz, 20 inches and mom and baby in good health!

Comment by Catherine Fisher on May 10, 2013 at 5:47pm

Hi everyone - looks like we might be drawing to a close on this one - although there is a teaser in the talent drawer - Yennenga I'm sure I'm not the only one to want to hear about that.  

 Can I suggest that you share a few reflections on what you have taken from the discussion so far.  What do you think you will do next in relation to the question we are discussing

1. To capitalise, map and profile the job of "local facilitator" and then Produce a toolkit for the facilitators (what and how?)

Or any other big light bulb/aha moments you have had for that matter.  I will then handover to Alejandro for a discussion on whats in the talent drawer.....

And I'm sure I speak for everyone in saying CONGRATULATIONS to Nancy on her new grandbaby - hope mother, baby and Granny all doing well!   

Comment by J. Yennenga KOMPAORE on May 1, 2013 at 11:47pm

Hi Mike. Thank you for sharing your experience with ALIN.  I'd be happy to read your book.  I can also say that , yes, this peer-assist is very helpful in many ways. I'll make a feedback at the end to share that.

Eva, I've visited the netmap website and it's even better whenI read your comment on this wall.  What really interest me is the simplicity of the process. I also think you're right when you suggest that the facilitators should learn about what a network is and can function.

Alejandro, your comment gives me additional ideas of the role of the local facilitators in knowledge capturing.


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