Internews Center for Innovation & Learning

Internews Center for Innovation & Learning
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What do you want to learn? What do you want to teach?

One of the Center’s core goals is "to ignite and nurture the spirit of creativity, collaboration, and inquiry throughout Internews.” In our theory of change, the strategy to achieve this is two-fold: 1) make access to tools, partners, and experimental approaches easy and organizationally seamless; and 2) shape a culture that rewards collaboration, curiosity, and deep engagement within the communities we serve. No small order right?
In 2014, we decided to experiment with organizing a series of external webinars with people doing interesting work outside of Internews, invite the entire organization to these events, and record them for later viewing on our YouTube channel (see the videos here). The intention was to give Internewsers a chance to engage with ideas and organizations outside of their day-to-day work, which is often hard to do when you’re consumed with managing or implementing a project in the field. As the months went by, we made small tweaks to try to drive up engagement and participation: changing the time and day of the week of the webinars, changing from ReadyTalk to Google+ Hangouts, changing up the format to include demos and hands-on trainings (rather than just presentations), sending out personal invitations to people, etc. But, I knew that we had to do better.
After a few months, I was ready to step back and reevaluate. It occurred to me that in order to design a communications and learning strategy that really met Internewsers’ needs, getting beyond assumptions about what was interesting, useful, or even relevant to people in the field was fundamental. This principle - of starting with beginner’s mind, checking your ego at the door, and really listening to the people you want to serve - is also at the core of human centered design. So, we had a very revolutionary idea to actually practice what we preach: why not actually ASK people what they want?
I present to you the outcomes of a very informal (and not representative) exercise that we did during the December meetings. Polaroid camera in hand, we went around and asked people to answer two questions:
What do you want to learn? (blue post-it)

What do you want to teach? (pink post-it)

This second question arose from our belief that Internewsers are an incredible resource. We don’t have to look to outsiders to teach us things; in fact, we can learn a lot from each other and we, as the Center, should facilitate opportunities to do so.
We will be keeping these responses in mind as we design our learning strategy for 2015, which will certainly include our new take on webinars (featuring Internewsers themselves?). Thanks to all who shared with us!
The lead image credit goes to Austin Kleon and his book called Show Your Work!