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 ALEJANDRO BALANZO on May 1, 2013 at 10:54pm

I have worked with an approach similar to Mike's, about 'identifying some key goals'. I think of it as discovering those aspects that are at the core, and that can work as anchors to frame/underline/note on conversations. I tend to fear stories, because they are always beautiful, but if not framed might easily end up as testimonies, anecdotes or lost in a bulk of... what was all that about?.

I think that bringing those key drivers to the front might be an objective of the local knowledge capture. Identifying the relevant issues coming again and again about each of the network themes. They will be a good tool to build more contents upon, to share them, to reflect with others.

What I've seen is that usually those issues are the different faces or dimensions of a subject. Say, for example, this is about entering sophisticated organic markets with your products. When speaking to farmers in that business we discovered it  has a lot of faces: a commercial side, a productive side, an administrative side, an organizational side.. and we put it like that in a peer to peer exchange, in such a manner that they could discuss about it. And then it was a matter of 'if you want to jump into this, is good you know beforehand what it gives. And what it takes'.

This chance to see the whole picture about something brings life to the contents, in the sense that they appear complete, related to concrete experiences, making part of everyday little movements. 

Comment by Nancy White on May 1, 2013 at 10:08pm

From Eva, who is having problems logging on:

"Thanks for drawing me in, Nancy. I would see a number of useful applications for Net-Map here. With the network members you could either map out their network structure or look at a specific goal they want to achieve (e.g. sell their Shea Butter in Ouagadugu) and sit with the women involved in this specific goal to map out: Who will influence that we achieve that? What are their formal and informal links? Goals? Influence on our success?
Also, you could use the tool in your work with the facilitators. I imagine a facilitator training where they get together for peer learning and map out the networks they are working with (both women members and other actors who influence what they can do). By mapping this out and comparing between maps, asking each other, they can embarque on a very deep discussion about structures that help them succeed, bottlenecks and detractors in the networks, strategies that their colleagues have used to overcome challenges or strategies that led them to fail. As developing networks is at the core of what the facilitators do, it is important for them to understand networks better and get a way of being able to identify and discuss problems in the network structure. This all might sound pretty abstract, but the process is low tech and simple. It involves a flip chart paper, post-its (or paper and tape), markers and checkers pieces (or bicycle ball bearings...). And I am happy to tell you more if you have more questions that the website does not answer.
Good luck!"

Comment by Nancy White on May 1, 2013 at 6:14pm

Just a note to folks joining us. Please post your ideas here, rather than clicking on "Send a message to group." While that would have been a great tool, we did not think of it when we kicked off. But the good news is that using the comment wall, the discussion is easily viewed by others! :-)

Comment by Nancy White on May 1, 2013 at 6:11pm

Here is a message from Mike Powell. I'm reposting it here because we have a number of communications options on NING, but we weren't very clear in suggesting HOW to use them for the PA and Mike's comments are so valuable, I don't want to lose them!  Here we go: 

Hi, I'm a long time KM4Dev member.  I have  joined this group aprtly because I am interested in learning about the methodology of peer-assist at a distance - in particular whether Yennenga finds it helpful - and partly because I may have something to contribute.

For me, my moment of revelation when it came to information management and development, came when I was doing a consultancy for the Arid Lands Information Network in Senegal in the early 90's.  ALIN at that time was an international NGO working across the Sahel.  (It is now a very successful Kenyan NGO working in East Africa).  ALIN had 1700 members.  Most were village level development workers.  Through talking to them I came to understand that networking- and IM -  was all about exchanging  information which could be actively used and that the technology employed was pretty secondary.

ALIN supported its members in a host of different activities.  Trying to evaluate them all was time consuming, expensive and, because they were all looked at separately, produced an overload of information, little of which made sense in relation to the whole.  Instead, we worked with staff and members to identify what ended up as the five main goals they were trying to achieve. For each one we then created a table listing all the activities being undertaken which could be said to support that objective.  Other columns noted what information might already exist - from management records, other sources - which could tell us but what had been done in numbers, and whether people thought it was any good.  The final column was for any new information that might need to be created/adapted to produce a satisfactory level of monitoring. 

The design aim was to be participative - i.e. to monitor what the participants thought most important - and to be  time efficient - reusing existing information wherever possible. 

I got positive feedback from many of the people involved who said it had helped them - as it had helped me - look at managing information in a new light.  It do not know though if it ever got much used as a system in practice.

I wrote it up in a book - information management for development organisations - of which I still have a copy or two I could send.  Alternatively it used to be available on the Oxfam website. I'll check if it still is and post the url if I find it.

Best wishes


Comment by J. Yennenga KOMPAORE on May 1, 2013 at 5:26pm

Hi Johannes. Happy to read you again !


In my scenario, I've planned to look for a drawer. I think it must be a professional drawer (talentuous) as the toolkit is pedagogical.

I've also planned to ask for the talents of actors and actress for initial audio content.


For talent unhidding, I think it will be more on the part n°2 of our peer-assist, about training. I know you'll love that part ! There's a crazy idea waiting for you there. I can just say that a local talent review is ready for use...

Comment by Nancy White on May 1, 2013 at 4:57pm

I love it -- UNHIDE YOUR TALENT! (And Johannes, you can turn email alerts on to this thread!)

Comment by Johannes Schunter on May 1, 2013 at 4:42pm

Huge apologies from my side for missing most of the discussion. I realize that there are no email alerts from contributions to this thread, so it was only when I actively logged in again this weekend that I realized that the discussion was long under way. Lesson learned for the after action review... ;)

On the discussion itself, this is great to read! It seems there are indeed two toolkits we might be talking about: one on process, and one on content. Regarding process, I totally agree that it is advisable to have facilitators actively participating in the content production, so they really own the material they use and are able to adapt it over time. 

Which brings me to my second thought: What talent do you have within the facilitators group that you can potentially use for content creation? As was suggested, giving people cameras to take pictures of crops, tools and techniques is a great way to spread insights on how to do things, but it requires a certain level of skill. That is even more the case if you plan to interview some women who can share their experience in local language. Would you have the capacity for someone to make such video interviews, and the infrastructure in the villages to show them?

To transfer ideas among illiterate communities we are mostly talking about the power of storytelling and images. It would be great to include in a toolkit some help on how to tell a good story, how to frame a narrative and how to ask interesting questions that engage an audience.

Also, I think that graphic illustrations in the form of drawings/cartoons might be key (and Nancy might have to say something on that one!) to convey key messages, narratives and processes. This is true in particular when it comes to specific hands-on techniques that otherwise are just communicated orally. We all know how difficult it is to remember a physical instruction that we only heard once, as opposed to being able to go back to an illustration that can act as a refresher. Do you have any hidden talent in your communities regarding graphic illustration, or do you have access to people who can help?

Comment by Nancy White on May 1, 2013 at 4:00pm

Eva on the weaknesses of hub and spoke networks.  

Comment by Nancy White on May 1, 2013 at 3:59pm

In the context of social networks, a hub is a person who is connected to many other people and they are not so connected to each other. There is a great diagram in this blog post: The blog post is from a business context, but the message applies more broadly! I'll find another example that is more in our context....

Comment by J. Yennenga KOMPAORE on May 1, 2013 at 3:56pm

what's a hub???


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