Last year, as the entire development community moved online, the Dgroups Foundation teamed up with partners to take stock of good practices in facilitating and sustaining online and virtual communities and interactions.
This included a knowledge café in May that identified four critical success factors for online collaboration, a KM4Dev@20 workshop in July, an e-conference to identify what really works, and a further knowledge café in September that reviewed and extended the key points emerging.
A brief summarising these interactions sets out four critical areas for effective online interaction: (a) enhance participation and engagement; (b) nurture effective communities; (c) use appropriate platforms; and (d) sustain engagement over time.
As well as these critical areas, the brief highlights lessons from the Foundation’s own online interactions and identified key messages for more effective online interaction:
- Mix formats and channels and tones – formal, informal, conversations, zoom and email, online, offline, and knowing when to converse and when to document;
- Learn and innovate and experiment together, adapting styles to participants and purposes, reinforcing sharing of tacit and explicit knowhow and curating links and resources;
- Clarify and agree goals, plans, expectations and purpose, to be really aware of any assumptions – and not be afraid to regularly revisit and adjust priorities and plans;
- Devise processes that translate audiences who watch into participants who engage – knowing who is online, making sure they can be heard or seen, and actively facilitating interactions;
- Make conversations and interactions as inclusive as possible, overcoming connectivity barriers, tackling power dynamics, choosing accessible applications, bringing in all the experiences of participants and giving space for new or different voices.