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Community Contribution

Global Health Knowledge Management Share Fair: Catalyzing Conversations

Apr 30, 2013

This article, by Becca Simon, is cross-posted from the K4Health blog.

On April 16, 2013, the Global Health Knowledge Collaborative hosted a one-day symposium for global health and knowledge management (KM) practitioners full of hands-on, interactive sessions to learn about innovative tools and techniques and share successes and lessons learned. Global Health Knowledge Management Share Fair: Challenges and Opportunities attracted nearly 200 people interested in the event’s objectives:

  • Learning about new KM tools, techniques, and approaches;
  • Agreeing on a shared definition of KM for global public health; and
  • Fostering a community of KM professionals.
Share Fair Org ChartZoom
Poll shows audience responses to the question "Which category best describes your organization?"

The Share Fair was participatory from the beginning. The day kicked off with audience response tool Poll Everywhere to see who was in the room. In real time, we learned that 24% of the people in the room were from the private sector, 16% were from NGOs, another 16% were from academia, and 13% were from USAID or another donor. This innovative tool allowed participants to quickly understand who they would be interacting with throughout the day.

Setting the stage for the day, Stacey Young, Senior Learning Advisor for USAID’s Bureau of Policy, Planning and Learning, offered the donor perspective on KM, and asked the audience, "What can USAID and other donors do to support learning and KM for more effective health programs?" The answers ranged from rewarding sharing and experimentation to integrating KM interventions into health system strengthening projects. Below is a word cloud illustrating the frequency of words included in participants’ responses.

Share Fair What Can USAID DoZoom
Word cloud representing the frequency of participant responses to the question "What can USAID and other donors do to support learning and KM for more effective health programs?"

Share Fair participants chose between several concurrent breakout sessions: KM evaluation, in-country KM, cross-sectoral approaches to KM, Net-mapping, communities of practice, health information needs assessments, blended learning, and KM for health system strengthening. Breakout sessions didn’t have panelists or speakers. Rather, facilitators and moderators created environments rich with experience and ripe for sharing. Many K4Health tools were used as conversation starters, including:

During breaks, a Marketplace showcased 16 KM tools, where people could test drive tools and approaches for social media, online spaces, and multimedia. The closing plenary featured Ellen Starbird, Deputy Director of USAID’s Bureau of Global Health Office of Population and Reproductive Health (PRH), who illustrated the importance of KM on achieving PRH goals.

Share Fair RunningZoom
Participant responses to the question “How would you describe where your organization or project is with knowledge management in terms of its culture and capacity?"

The day concluded with an audience poll that asked, “How would you describe where your organization or project is with knowledge management in terms of its culture and capacity?” Response choices were: crawling, walking, running, and flying. Nearly half of the people in the room said their organizations are walking, illustrating that we are now starting to recognize the need for knowledge management in global public health and international development programs.

Throughout the day, graphic facilitators from the Value Web captured key points on a Knowledge Wall. This visual representation of the conversations had at the Share Fair is more than just notes. It illustrates the richness of interactions catalyzed by participatory sessions.

Share Fair Knowledge WallZoom
Graphic facilitation was used by The Value Web to capture the key points of conversations throughout the innovative, participatory one-day event.

Let’s keep the conversation and the momentum going! What do you see as the biggest challenges in KM for global health? What opportunities do you see for the future?