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Posted by on Mar 27, 2016

Promoting advocacy with technology Part 2: Two days in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Panoply Digital Cambodia
I am reposting this here from Panoply Digital.

In an ongoing collaboration with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), an organization dedicated to strengthening democracy around the globe through private enterprise and market-oriented reform, Panoply Digital recently conducted a two day technology training workshop in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This is the second training we have done in this regard, with the first being a recent event in Lagos, Nigeria which my colleague Lauren wrote about here.

The participants were from two of CIPE’s partners in the region SILAKA is an organization dedicated to promoting good governance and gender equality in rebuilding Cambodian society; nurturing networking and cooperation to engage both demand and supply sides; and sharing knowledge and experiences to help advancement Cambodian’s development, and peace building. The second, CAMFEBA (The Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations), represents the private sector with over 2,000 employers and business associations in Cambodia with legal, strategic, or training consultation.

Some of their projects are near and dear Panoply Digital’s hearts as well like SILAKA’s WLSN-2, a project to develop women leaders at the sub-national level (គម្រោង “ពង្រឹងអំណាចស្រ្តីដឹកនាំថ្នាក់ក្រោមជាតិ ក្នុងវិស័យនយោបាយនៅកម្ពុជា) with the express goals of “increased participation of women leaders in advocacy actions, promoting women’s rights issues, including more open public discussion on such issues, which directly contributes to the promotion of women’s rights at the community level and at the national level by women leaders.”

The training curriculum itself was based on a collected set of data from these participants to determine their most pressing needs, an ongoing process of surveys and phone interviews conducted over several months. Both organizations had training as part of their mandate and performed it often; both were responsible for maintaining professional expertise in their chosen field of work. These fields ranged considerably from good governance, law, training, and so forth, so the training curriculum was designed broadly to incorporate as many of these possible.

So, four modules were created at roughly three hours each: Research, Professional Development, Media Content, and (Online) Training. Research was engineered to stimulate a discussion on the information needs of each organzation, what information is being reviewed (newspapers, reports, government documents, online information, and so forth), what is missing from this approach, and how a somewhat automated approach migth help through the low-hanging fruit/applications of Google Alerts and RSS. Participants discusssed their most pressing needs, I reverted a bit to my Information Science days and discussed the art/science of creating robust search statements, and we set up a series of search alerts and a RSS Reader to complement their work.

The second module, Professional Development, was designed primarily to expose everyone to how open learning might satisfy some organizational professional development needs (a topic I clearly have a hankering for judging by this post). Millions of options out there, but I focused specifically on MOOCs mostly due to time constraints. MOOCs have many (pedagogical) disadvantages but they remain relatively accessible (price and online) and metaphorically accessible (they are formal courses). Participants drafted learning plans, idenitifed some courses that might be applicable to their work, and we discussed how we might measure the impact of these courses on the bottom line of the organization, an elusive measurement in any context.

The third module was creating content and this involved developing two non-text channels to complement the social media work they are already doing; we learned how to create podcasts online and graphics (via Canva) to support their communication (events, training, announcements, social media branding). The fourth and final module involved how they might put some of their training content online to extend their reach from their extensive face to face training. Initial feedback from the event was positive and CIPE intends to follow up in a few months to see if any of these tools made their way into their organizational work. With these types of trainings, at least in my experience, much of what one might hope to accomplish is really in the exposure, the lighting of the fire rather than the filling of the pail kind of education. Expose them to the options that exist, link it as overtly as possible to what they currently do, try and find the cultural scaffold on which to hang all this technological novelty, and make followup explicit.

We look forward to our future collaboration with CIPE and hope to return to visit these organizations in Phnom Penh in the very near future. Cambodia is clearly developing fast, a good sign for the region, and as such I look forward to what they can teach me the next time I am here.

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