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MEAS writeshop Uganda

(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 (www.meas-extension.org/meas-offers/training) and Tip Sheets 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 and representatives from government entities and nongovernmental organizations “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

November 16-20, 2015

Forest Cottages, Kampala, Uganda


WHO

19 participants (see list in Appendix A)

§  Makerere University, Department of Agricultural Extension and Innovation Studies, Uganda

§  Gulu University, Department of Animal Production and Range Management, Uganda

§  Bukalasa Agricultural College, Department of Management, Uganda

§  Kyambogo University, Uganda

§  Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries (MAAIF), Uganda,

§  Africa Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS), Uganda

§  Uganda Forum For Agricultural Advisory Services (UFAAS)

§  Sasakawa Global 2000, Uganda

§  Uganda National Farmers Federation

§  Volunteer Efforts for Development Concerns (VEDCO), Uganda

§  Heifer International, Uganda

§  Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), Malawi

§  Malawi Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (MAFAAS)

§  Ministry of Agriculture, Zambia

EVALUATION AND PARTICIPANT COMMENTS

Overall, participants were enthusiastic and positive regarding the different aspects of the write shop.  During the last session, we asked participants to share their favorite part of the write shop, the most useful or 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?

Participants cited the following characteristics of the write shop as their favorite part:

·       Favorable atmosphere for writing

                      Quiet time set aside to concentrate, think, and write

                      Individual reflection time to synthesize materials

                      The freedom to work and modify existing materials

An environment conducive for organizing materials from various sources

                      Being focused for one week to produce course materials which would otherwise take ages

·       Energizers/daily reviews

                     Energizers were well thought out and enhanced learning

                     Evaluations of the day were participatory and interactive

                     Energizers were quite creative, skillful, and a source of learning

 

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

·       Overwhelmingly participants cited the MEAS materials as the most beneficial aspect of the write shop:

The variety of resource-rich, relevant material

The diversity and breath of materials that can easily be adapted to the work situation

All materials are up-to-date, in one place, and in readily accessible formats

Access to a plethora of subject matter materials with formats that can be used in extension

·       Other useful aspects of the write shop participants cited are: the diversity and professional experiences of participants; the facilitation techniques; meeting and interacting with colleagues and new friends.

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

Participant suggestions focused on two main areas:

·       Emailing the materials in advance so participants can be better prepared to begin writing.

·       Increasing the time for participants to share their experiences, present their projects, and receive feedback from others on materials being developed.

LESSONS LEARNED AND FUTURE RECOMMENDATIONS

On Day #1 of the write shop, each participant received a flash drive with approximately 375 MEAS documents within 14 folders. We briefly highlighted the contents of each folder while participants followed along on their laptops. The number of documents is rather daunting. We recommend providing at least one hour in the beginning of the write shop for the participants to specifically peruse the documents on their own before narrowing down a topic(s) for their writing project. We may have “rushed” the participants to select a focus before they had an opportunity to realize the extent of the MEAS documents. This was not a major concern since participants came with a general focus area in mind, but something to consider in the future. Providing access to the documents via Dropbox prior to the write shop, as suggested by several participants on the evaluation, may be an additional method for participants to become familiar with the abundance of materials.

As we observed in the Ghana Write Shop do not “force” participants to work together or form artificial writing teams. Although participants in Uganda focused on similar topics, they all worked independently, sharing or talking with each other as needed. We also gathered participants with similar topics to share their documents and provide feedback for each other.

Incorporating energizers and daily reviews were received positively by the participants. Unlike Ghana, most of the Uganda Write Shop participants did not know each other so having the opportunity to engage in group activities was beneficial to accomplishing our third objective (establishing a lasting framework for continued collaboration and networking), as was having lunch together each day. The energizers and reviews also served as examples for participants to adapt and modify in their own work settings when training farmers or teaching university courses.

In Ghana, toward the conclusion of the write shop we had each participant share his or her project. This activity was very time consuming with participants reading their projects to the group and we felt it was not a good use of time. In Uganda this activity would have taken up to five hours with 19 participants if each person had been given 15 minutes to present as was the case in Ghana. So we changed the procedure and asked participants to share their writing ideas or products at various points throughout the write shop. This format also allowed for continual feedback throughout the process rather than comments only on the final product. Participants shared their initial writing ideas in pairs the morning of Day #2. In the afternoons of Days #2 and #3 we had each participant provide a brief description of his or her project to the entire group. On Day #4 we intentionally grouped participants working on projects with similar topics to share and provide feedback to each other on their final products.  In the future we will continue to provide opportunities for participants to share and present their ideas and projects based on the number of participants and available time.

Since each participant needs to spread out with his or her own laptop throughout the write shop the meeting room must be spacious, providing room for each participant to work comfortably. The room also needs to have a constant source of power and space for conducting energizers and breaks. 

The Uganda write shop had an excellent mix of female (9) and male (10) participants and a fairly even representation from academia, private, and public extension NGOs. Inviting participants from a variety of organizations and institutions, including grassroots groups, enhances collaboration, increases networking, and encourages future interaction. 

 

From both write shops in Ghana and Uganda we learned that you can never be too clear regarding reimbursements and honorariums.  We recommend providing in writing before and during the write shop what items, such as meals, transportation, and lodging, will be paid for by the participants and what expenses will be provided by MEAS. We modified our procedure for gathering the necessary information to process honorariums and reimbursements between Ghana and Uganda and the revised procedure went much more smoothly. We addressed reimbursements and honorariums at the start of the write shop and asked participants to complete a form that gave us all the information we needed to complete the University of Illinois vendor paperwork on their behalf. We found asking participants to complete these forms themselves in Ghana was cumbersome and confusing for many. This system allowed us to ensure the forms were completed correctly and necessary signatures were obtained prior to leaving the country so the honorarium could be processed as efficiently as possible once we returned to the U.S. Participants receiving reimbursements for their travel provided receipts as they incurred expenses and we reimbursed everyone at the end of the week. 

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Andrea Bohn,
Jan 21, 2016, 10:20 AM
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Andrea Bohn,
Jan 21, 2016, 10:20 AM
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Andrea Bohn,
Jan 21, 2016, 10:20 AM
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Luzobe, Beatrice (2015) Fact Sheet - Rabbitry Fact Sheets.pub
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Andrea Bohn,
Jan 21, 2016, 10:20 AM
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Andrea Bohn,
Mar 7, 2016, 9:12 PM
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Andrea Bohn,
Jan 21, 2016, 10:20 AM
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Andrea Bohn,
Jan 21, 2016, 5:56 PM
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