Thursday, September 18, 2008

Three lessons of a year of trying to introduce web2.0 tools in a research institute

The webtastings weblog has a blogpost written by Pete Shelton reflecting on the introduction of web2.0 tools for researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute IFPRI. I thought it was a perfect match with the subject of this weblog, that's why I'm reblogging it here, but you may ofcourse check out the full blogpost too.

What did they do?

They offered a series of weekly trainings in web tools for interested researchers at IFPRI. Wikis, Social bookmarking, RSS readers, etc. The participants had not heard about the tools before.

What happened?

The participants of the training did not use the tools in the months following their training. So the team started asking why the participants did not use the tools.

What are the three lessons?

The 3 lessons they learned from this experience are:

1. Focus on the job rather than the tool.
In the training the team was focusing on the tool rather than the application. Yet, it turned out that researchers wanted to see how this tool could be applied in their daily lives.

2. Researchers liked to hear experiences from other researchers.
When a fellow researcher gave a presentation about her blog, it had a much higher impact than examples given by the trainers. People can relate to the lives and stories of their peers rather than others.

3. Don’t assume you know what researchers need- go out and ask them.
When asked about their interests researchers gave answer based on what they thought the training team could offers, eg. wikis, social bookmarking etc. Yet, when they rephrased the question into: " What are some common communication bottlenecks you face in your work?" Many researchers complained of email overload. Others expressed the need for collaborative work spaces for posting data, figures and working versions of research. So then you can start raising the interest from there.

Personally, I always have the impression the way the tools are introduced matters too. If you get people excited about new possibilities they will go a long way to learn about it by themselves. However, if they get the feeling they have to use a new tool because someone else wants them to do so, they may not be interested at all. Lastly, these tools are social media, so it is hard to start a journey on your own, but much better to do it in a group.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home