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MEAS writeshop Ghana

(Note: The full report as well as the materials created by the participants are available as downloads towards the bottom of the page.)

Over the years MEAS (Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services) has created many training materials, especially the smart skills material (http://www.meas-extension.org/meas-offers/training) and Tip Sheets http://www.meas-extension.org/tip-sheets (e.g., the ASK ME Extension Framework and the TIGRS Keys for Success; Participatory Methods Tools and Fact Sheets). Most of the material is designed for use by field-level agents, but exposing graduate and undergraduate students in extension degree programs to the information would also be beneficial.

WHAT

A five-day MEAS-sponsored write shop designed to help faculty members at selected universities “make the MEAS material their own” and find ways to use the resources in ways that are valuable to them. Participants reviewed the “raw” material and converted the material into formats (e.g., manuals, handouts, posters, laminated worksheets, textbooks) that are more readily useable “back home.”

The objectives of the write shop were for participants to:

·       Create at least one product that could be used to train current or future extension agents using existing MEAS materials;

·       Familiarize themselves with MEAS resources and determine opportunities for continuing to integrate MEAS materials into curricula and trainings;

·       Establish a framework for ongoing collaboration on extension education and training throughout the region.

 

WHERE

September 14-18, 2015

University of Cape Coast

Cape Coast, Ghana

 

WHO

13 participants (see list in Appendix A)

§  University of Cape Coast, Ghana

§  University of Ghana

§  Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana

§  Cuttington University, Liberia

§  University of Ilorin, Nigeria

§  University of Development Studies, Ghana

§  Kwadaso Agricultural College, Ghana

§  Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana

EVALUATION AND PARTICIPANT COMMENTS

Overall, participants had very favorable comments regarding the write shop. They appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues on the development of curriculum and training materials for current and future extension agents and valued the expertise and guidance of the write shop facilitators. Participants felt the balance between facilitated instruction and time to work independently provided them adequate time to develop their own materials and learn from one another throughout the process. We concluded the write shop by asking participants to share their favorite part of the write shop, the most beneficial aspect of the write shop and suggestions for improving future write shops. Participant comments are summarized below.

1.       What was your most favorite part of the write shop?

Most participants cited one of three characteristics of the write shop as their favorite part:

·       The plethora of MEAS materials available on the jump drive and the opportunity to spend time reviewing the material and forming ideas to utilize it in their own work;

·       The conducive atmosphere for collaborating with and learning from their colleagues; and

·       The opportunity to design and create materials they will use in the undergraduate/graduate courses they teach or field agent trainings they facilitate.

2.       What did you find most useful or beneficial about the write shop?

All participants agreed that one of the most valuable aspects of the write shop was time. So often professionals are consumed with other tasks that extended periods of time to focus only on conceiving and developing materials is unavailable. Participants appreciated the uninterrupted opportunity to focus on this task and consult with their colleagues and the write shop facilitators on an as-needed basis. Other useful aspects of the write shop participants cited are:

·       Brainstorming with their colleagues and learning about what their colleagues are doing in their courses and trainings through group discussion and presentations of final products;

·       The enormous variety of information available in the MEAS materials –participants found the documents related to gender, program development and evaluation, and information communication technologies particularly useful, but appreciated the diversity of the materials; and

·       Learning how to combine materials from different sources to create a meaningful product that can be used for educational and training purposes.

3.       What suggestions do you have for improving future write shops?

There was little consensus among participants for ways to improve future write shops. Participant comments include:

·       Follow-up with participants to monitor how MEAS materials continue to be used and share additional materials developed with other participants

·       Make per diem and/or the honorarium available for participants during the workshop

·       Teamwork should be encouraged so participants can learn new ways of doing things… “I have learned so many things from my writing partner.”

·       Include more participants and extend the write shop

·       Allow opportunities to pre-test materials developed in the field or with students

·       Include ice-breakers in the agenda

·       More opportunities to present throughout the write shop so those having difficulties can learn and improve

LESSONS LEARNED AND FUTURE RECOMMENDATIONS

·       This was a high-level group of participants in terms of background and experience. Nine of the 13 participants have doctoral degrees in education. We learned quickly that the best thing to do was to leave them alone and let them work. The participants immediately began to identify the documents that were most useful for them after we reviewed the MEAS materials as a group. Facilitation was minimal moving forward –participants sought out help as needed from the facilitators or their colleagues.

·       Several of the participants were using the MEAS materials to develop syllabi for undergraduate and post-graduate courses.  Kelly, one of the co-facilitators, created two documents to share with the participants on their flash drives: a template for developing a course syllabus and a sample course syllabus. Participants with less experience developing courses found the template useful for organizing their ideas.

·       Do not force participants to form writing teams, let them form organically. This particular group preferred to work alone and would ask each other for help as needed. It helped that many of the participants knew each other in some capacity prior to the write shop. We had two pairs that worked together all week; all others worked solo. 

·       The participants did not make much use of the “hard copy” MEAS materials. Instead, they preferred the electronic versions on the flash drive. The flash drive made it easy to copy and paste the information they needed directly into the documents they were developing. Participants also found it more useful and efficient to electronically search their flash drives or through individual documents to find the information they needed rather than thumbing through hard copies. 

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Andrea Bohn,
Jan 21, 2016, 10:18 AM
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Andrea Bohn,
Mar 7, 2016, 9:09 PM
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Andrea Bohn,
Jan 21, 2016, 10:19 AM
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Obeng, Albert (2015) Manual - Assessing Training Needs.pub
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Andrea Bohn,
Jan 21, 2016, 10:19 AM
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