Evaluating Akvo RSR workshops



The Bolivia Really Simple Reporting workshop in December last year was the first of a series of workshops that Akvo facilitated. These workshops help explain what Akvo does, focus on getting RSR-users into the habit of posting online updates regularly, and offer an opportunity to play and practice with photo and video updating.

Since the first workshop in Bolivia, several more have been facilitated for the Connect4Change and WASH alliances in Zambia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Bangladesh and, recently, in Ethiopia. Seven months have passed since the first workshop and it seems like a good time to evaluate the effectiveness of these workshops. In the past few weeks, I have interviewed, Skyped, and emailed with 11 workshop participants and six Akvo trainers who all shared their experiences and feedback.

The overall response from participants is very positive, ranging from “It was very good, all participants enjoyed the workshop,” to feedback such as “Trainers were very energetic.” Of course there is always room for improvement. Here are the top 10 suggestions from participants and trainers:

  1. Prior preparation. Trainers need to find a way to have all participants register themselves and bring a project online prior the workshop. This is important to prevent start-up problems.
  2. User accounts and rights. Trainers need to explain the differences between user accounts and related rights as these are not always clear among users.
  3. Update text. Although use of language is not a main concern for updates in RSR, users would like to receive more explanation on written text for updates and editing options.
  4. Video updates. Video updates pose challenges. Participants and trainers point out that more time is required to practice with video. Re-sizing, uploading and embedding videos are particularly challenging.
  5. Internet issues. Hinder smooth workshop progress. Solutions for this would be for trainers to bring portable wifi, and/or to create an offline website environment which can be used as an alternative.
  6. Workshop set-up. Could be more interactive, with more hands-on activities to practice. All participants agree that including a field visit in the workshop programme would be very useful to present and practice with the challenges of a real situation. The majority of the workshops are scheduled to cover a day and a half. Many participants would like to see this programme extended.
  7. Trainers. Can try to inspire participants more. Maybe include a ‘fun-element’ in the workshop.
  8. Training material. Should be standardised, with a stronger connection between the various training materials.
  9. Follow-up. Participants agree that a follow-up workshop would be useful. Some participants point out this can be done via Skype.
  10. Customer support. For participants it is not always clear who to contact with RSR related questions.

Based on the feedback, the existing workshop set-up and training material is getting a make-over. A new version of the RSR workshop presentation is ready and will be further improved, a new design for the training manual is in the making, and the RSR support website help.akvo.org is currently being reviewed and will be up-to-date by mid-August – all will be ready for the next workshop in Nepal!

Since Akvo started facilitating workshops, the number of project updates in the RSR system have increased considerably. The Connect4Change consortium has 261 updates in total, of which 213 updates were posted after the first workshop in December 2011. The WASH Alliance had no updates prior to the first workshop in April this year – now there are 64. This is great progress – keep it going!

Charlotte Soedjak is working as intern for Akvo