iCampus 4 Key Learning Tools in 2017 and Next Steps
What is learning at Liberia’s first innovation and co-working space?
iCampus and the USAID LAVI Learning Lab have become a hub for organizational and adaptive learning in Liberia. In the past 10 months the combined iCampus teams (Accountability Lab Liberia and iLab Liberia have tested a variety of MEL (Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning) tools as outlined further below:
Quarterly Learning Calls
iCampus has now hosted 2 quarterly learning calls- which are analogous to quarterly earnings calls for companies- public calls through which we discuss our learning, challenges and opportunities around given topics. The issues discussed on the calls to date have been “Advocacy & Natural Resource Management (NRM) and “Citizens Monitoring & Engagement” . Participants have joined the calls in Liberia and from around the world including the US and Europe. The goal over time is to build an audience around our learning work and share our ideas and lessons internationally to inform the work of others.
The team has been using Kobo Toolbox, a free data collection app developed by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, to collect data related to activities based at iCampus. For example, the Accountability Lab team conducted a survey across almost 1,000 people in Cape Mount County around natural resource management issues- information that will be used to inform iCampus’ work with the NRM coalition going forwards. Kobo Toolbox is useful because it is simple to use, data can be collected offline and it automatically creates graphs and charts to show key data trends.
iCampus is using Frontline SMS to collect real-time data to adapt and improve programming over time. For example, the team recently used Frontline to allow for voting during the “Rap to be Repped” NRM event. The platform allowed us to collect voting preferences from over 400 people at the event to support the selection of the winner of the competition. The Accountability Lab Liberia team is also using Frontine SMS to collect votes as part of the Integrity Idol campaign which is currently underway and is creating significant engagement among young people across the country.
iCampus has now hosted two “Fail Faire” events. The idea of Fail Faires is to understand failure as a learning process and as the 1st step in the process of changing approaches in order to improve personal or organizational behaviors. The process involves short pitches from speakers about their failures, followed by discussions about the lessons. 1st Fail Faire with LAVI was open and included presentations from both the LAVI team and the Accountability Lab Liberia team, along with representatives from the private sector. The 2nd Fail Faire was themed around the elections and involved presentations from various attendees working on democracy and related issues.
iCampus has also begun the process of organizing structured experience sharing sessions with other related and affiliated organizations around the world. For example, we recently conducted a video exchange with the OpenGov Hub in Washington, DC to share ideas around the management of co-working and innovation spaces and community-building initiatives. The call included representatives from the iCampus team and in DC, representatives from organizations including Development Gateway, Frontline SMS, Global Integrity and the Open Government Partnership.
International Experience Sharing
The iCampus team has begun to share it experiences around learning at international events and workshops. For example, the iCampus manager recently traveled to Washington, DC to explain our approaches at both the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA) Forum and the Feedback Labs Summit; and Accountability Lab Liberia’s Country Director traveled to New York to present our work at the Open Society Foundation’s Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Conference (see accompanying Powerpoint presentation for more details).
The iCampus team has a variety of new learning activities planned beyond continuing many of those already begun and as described above. A key part of these will be a learning conference now planned for February 9, 2018 in which we hope to bring together key stakeholders in the learning agenda in Liberia and discuss these and many other approaches in more depth.
iCampus Learning Agenda
The iCampus team developed a learning agenda at an all staff retreat in December 2017.The agenda focused on a set of key evaluation questions that further promote the overall sustainability strategy of iCampus. Key learning questions will basically drawdown on the two (2) major objectives under LAVI deliverables and other indicators in the Sustainability Plan of iCampus. Following which a series of learning activities will be conducted to implement the agenda in the following years..
iCampus Year End Survey
A year end survey was conducted to measure our impact in 2017. The survey was administered to participants from the iCampus community at a joint feedback session with Accountability Lab Liberia and iLab Liberia teams to gather relevant detailed information about the Lab. We intend to use the findings from the survey to inform our implementation in 2018.