Design and Facilitation of the Scholarly Communication in Africa Programme Inception Workshop

From 18-20 October I-P-K facilitated the Inception Workshop for the Scholarly Communication in Africa Programme at the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Educational Technology (CET). SCAP is a project of the centre for educational technology and the Research Office at the University of Cape Town. About 12 scholars from the four participating universities (Cape Town, Mauritius, Namibia and Botswana) attended and explored the workshop’s leading question “How Can We Go About Creating Sites of Innovation?”. The Inception Workshop was designed for participants to gain a better sense of  what SCAP is about and is not about, as well as acquire a strong and shared ownership over the SCAP project plan and methodological approach.

During the first day participants explored the scholarly communication ecosystems at the different participating institutions (creation of a Mind Map) and gained a sense of the SCAP background and context (participatory Fish Bowl discussion). They also had a first glimpse into the suggested methodological approach by attending a “Speed Geeking” session on Activity Theory, Change Laboratories and Cost Analysis. There was a lot of discomfort and confusion on the end of the first day due to the (only limited) exposure to the unfamiliar methodological approach. This prepared the ground for the next two days in which participants crafted their vision for Scholarly Communication in Africa and started identifying possible areas of SCAP activity as well as ideas for possible measures, stakeholders and activities. They concluded by looking into how strategic partnerships could best be leveraged to ensure an even broader impact of SCAP.

Whilst some of the participants expected “a room full of scholars feeding them with a lot of information” they were surprised to experience the “magic of working in small groups”, achieving more than they expected by surfacing more internal knowledge than is usually the case in more formal workshop set-ups. They also remarked that the workshop methodology enabled different ways of intuitive thinking and that it created a nurturing environment for expressing views, ideas, drawing connections and insights.

We wish SCAP well in taking up the various project activities scheduled throughout the course of the next two years and look forward to learning about the progress made in the different Change Laboratories. Many thanks for a wonderful collaboration and viva Innovation in Scholarly Communication in Africa! To learn more about Scholarly Communication Access to Knowledge in Africa you may also want to visit http://www.sca2kafrica.org/.

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