Many, many thanks to Pazuzu and Joelle for liveblogging our introductory meeting, and to Meedan and its network for translating the posts. We brought together about 50 digital and social media for social change enthusiasts from all over Lebanon on Saturday, and through a participatory process design by the collective ñ, established a base for a homegrown network of digital activists. The transcript and a few pictures are below. We will post reflections later this week.

Intro meeting (05/30/2009)

9:11 Pazuzu: SMEX training is about to start, participants are at the registration desk then off to an amazing day

9:15 joelle: Energizer to start the day. Morning circle for everybody to meet everybody.

10:03 joelle: It’s amazing how everything is connected. Take a word, any word or phrase and throw it out there and see how it brings communities together. Think of how “activism” brings people together. Think of how “web applications” bring people together. Small groups can grow around one idea, and then there’s another common link that makes them grow into larger groups, into communities. And it’s by moving within the circles of this network of commonalities that we get to know each other.

10:13 [Comment From joumana]
i’m following from riyadh. looking forward.

10:27 Pazuzu: Now Jessica is giving an overview of the program.

10:28 Pazuzu: In our program we’ll be using a learning program called “moodle”.

10:29 Pazuzu: The success of this training relies on the level of participation

10:30 Pazuzu: During the program there will be resources, including text, sites, videos and a lot more. But how much will every participant take depends on how much they get involved

10:31 Pazuzu: We’re predicting that the completion of the program will require an investment of about 4 to 7 hours per week.

10:32 Pazuzu: Part of the training is online, and we know that some people may not have access to fast connection, so we will be providing a DVD with a great portion of the information. It will not contain everything, but at least the greatest percentage of it.

10:32 joelle: The material will be translated into Arabic as we go, to make it easier for people who aren’t all that proficient in Arabic to keep up.

10:33 Pazuzu: Another part of the training will be offline, we’ll be going to the different places in Lebanon.

10:33 Pazuzu: In the first 5 weeks there will be one offline meeting and more later on.

10:34 Pazuzu: For us to be able to give you a certificate by the end of the training, we will be following-up with you on moodle.

10:36 Pazuzu: And a digital identity workbook will be delivered to participants, reading it will help you understand your online presence in an NGO context.

10:37 Pazuzu: This is the course of
the first 5 weeks program.

10:38 Pazuzu: Then we meet again to plan for the second 5 week program, that will be designed around topics. Each participant will choose his/her own preference and follow his/her own interest.

10:40 joelle: Participants will have to complete the first 5-week course to enroll in the second 5-week program.

10:40 Pazuzu: And now Hala and Hala are coordinating another energizer.

10:43 Pazuzu: Personal Thought: When dealing with multilingual environments, getting the message to each and every participant is always a problem! One thing I’m noticing today is that as soon as people were separated into groups and Jessica started talking, participants started helping each other so that everyone understands. Way to go!

10:48 Pazuzu: Almost 50 participants are now writing down what they expect from the program… in total silence

10:50 joelle: Expectations help you achieve your goals.

10:51

10:52 joelle: The more specific you are in what you want, the easier it is to go after it and get it.

10:58 Pazuzu: Thoughts from the tables: I want to use the Internet in a more professional way

11:02 Pazuzu: And now participants are reflecting on what skills or help they can provide to others

11:05 Pazuzu: Communication is increasing as participants are getting more and more confortable with each other.

11:17 Pazuzu: An unplanned energizer: Participants have been advised to change locations and groups to maximize communication and get to know even more people! (I can hear a “how are you doing” conversation taking place on the table next to me)

11:22 Pazuzu: A tour around the room showed extensive use of words words like “training” , “funding”, ‘photoshop”, “I am not a professional”, “peacebuilding”

11:23 Pazuzu: Another interesting observation is that some tables are using only Arabic, others are using only English and some are mixing the two. A high level of flexibility

11:26 Pazuzu: And now the wrap-up of this session:

11:35 Pazuzu: Table 1: has people knowledgeable in Blog, emarketing, webdesign, Programing

11:35 Pazuzu: Table2: Photoediting, communication and collaboration tools

11:37 Pazuzu: Table 3: resources and research (links), text editing, photoediting and videoediting, copyrighting material

11:37 Pazuzu: Table3 also: blogging and photshop

11:37 joelle: Table 2: providing information too

11:38 joelle: Oh look, it rhymes 🙂

11:39 Pazuzu: Table 4: writing and language skills, networking between Baalback, Hermel and Aakar, graphic design, media liaison, social orientation, youth empowerment and capacity building and finally proposal writing

11:43 Pazuzu: Table 5: Photography, children activities, writing (articles, news, press releases), statistics, training skills, conflict resolution, using websites to market our ideas, need analysis, media contacts and citizen journalism

11:45 Pazuzu: Table 6: Offline skills: strategic communication planning, community networking, language, fundraising, graphic editing for publications. As for the online skills: Facebook, online advocacy

11:47 joelle: This is amazing. It’s like a one-stop shop. And there’s more tables to go.

11:47 Pazuzu: Table 7: conflict resolution, multimedia editing and training, graphic design, teaching, blogging, citizen journalism

11:48 Pazuzu: Table 7: Educational technology

11:49 Pazuzu: Table 8: Technical skills in design (photo and video), Blogging and webdesign, planning and communication, media networking.

11:54 Pazuzu: And now for a break

11:55 [Standby] Will be back in a few minutes

12:27

12:29 Pazuzu: And we’re back with a picture of the cloud of resources that participants will be exachanging during this project. That’s a lot of resources!

12:31 Pazuzu: The participants are now discovering with Hala the learning process that will be adopted by SMEX during this training.

12:33 Pazuzu: And now for the Wolrd Cafe
12:37 Pazuzu: This process was developed in 1995 for brainstorming and coming up with new ideas

12:42

12:45 Pazuzu: And so the participants start their coffee table conversation reflecting around the following question: “If you were designing the training process, what would you do to make it successful and to keep participants engaged?”

12:52 Pazuzu: Thoughts from the world cafe: “The idea of an online training itself attracted me personally, because I work in creative arts” Nadim

1:07 Pazuzu: After another table swapping, we continue the thinking process

1:08 Pazuzu: If we were to summarize the overall spirit in the room, I would use three words:

1:08 Pazuzu: Optimism

1:08

1:11 Pazuzu: Serious thinking

1:11

1:14 Pazuzu: And seriously enjoying our time

1:14

1:28 Pazuzu: And in the last minutes, participants are going back each to his/her table and will focus on thinking about 2 to 3 areas of their plan that they consider to be the most important.

1:37 Pazuzu: One thing you would notice now that we are half way through the event, is that people are tired (maybe hungry) but they are getting more and more into the activity. I can’t wait to read what they wrote, there must be so much to learn from their experience

1:42 Pazuzu: Now the wrap-up, let’s see what each table saw as 3 important ideas

1:43 [Comment From Moe]
Excited to be in the training, full of energy and excited participants from all over Lebanon.

1:44 Pazuzu: And the important ideas that the participants found are:
1- using the skills we are getting, in real life situations

1:45 Pazuzu: 2- online/offline follow-up

1:45 Pazuzu: 3- good facilitation skills to follow-up well

1:45 Pazuzu: 4- constant feedback, during and after

1:46 Pazuzu: 5- regular constructive feedback

1:46 Pazuzu: 6- going from big networks to smaller groups based on structure

1:46 Pazuzu: 7- adapting the training to the needs of participants

1:47 Pazuzu: 8- team work

1:47 Pazuzu: 9- structured training

1:48 Pazuzu: 10- keeping all individuals updated

1:48 Pazuzu: 11- setting goals according to needs of participants

1:49 Pazuzu: 12- clarity on objectives, materials and knowhow in spreading it

1:49 Pazuzu: 13- ensure that the network is interactive

1:50 Pazuzu: 14- resources accessible online, updated and applicable

1:50 Pazuzu: 15- continuous feedback and adjustments accordingly

1:51 Pazuzu: 16- using the experience of those who have done the work that we plan to do

1:52 Pazuzu: 17- proper planning and commitment

1:53 Pazuzu: Reading these “main ideas” so out of all the ideas that were discussed, in spite of their diversity, the 3 main ideas were close to each other

1:57 Pazuzu: And now we will have lunch, at around 2:30 we start again

1:57 [Standby] We’ll be back after lunch

2:59 Pazuzu: And we’re back again with tutorials about the things that we will be using during the training, we are learning how to use moodle, google search, google groups and google calendar

10:28