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Community Contribution

Reflections on the KM Share Fair

Apr 30, 2013

This post, by Sylvia Vriesendorp, originally appeared on the Global Heatlh Knowledge Collaborative Blog,and is cross-posted from the K4Health blog. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communications Programs is the current chair organization of the Global Health Knowledge Collaborative and the implementer of K4Health, with FHI 360 and Management Sciences for Health. Sylvia Vriesendorp, the emcee of the Share Fair, led the nearly 200 participants through a highly interactive day. Every session was participatory, from the audience response system in the plenaries to the hands-on demonstrations in the Marketplace and roll-up-your-sleeves design of breakout sessions. It was mentioned more than once that this should become an annual event, and a volunteer overheard a participant say she had sneaked into the event even though it was full.

“What is important to you about KM and why?” was the first question that some 40 small groups discussed, sitting at paper-covered tables with colored markers that invited participants to doodle out loud. The papers and the host at each table captured their conversations, their questions, opinions and exclamation marks. Within seconds the room was abuzz, with energy, opinions, experiences and wisdom. Two graphic facilitators captured the essence of the conversation on a 24 by 8 foot mural that slowly filled over the next 6 hours.  

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.

Another round of the World Café tapped the nearly 200 people to find out what they were not seeing, where more clarity was needed or what was in the way of making Knowledge Management an integral part of interventions aimed at improving public health.

From there came the marching orders: a number of challenges, some quite well known, others less articulated – this is the work to be done: 

Challenge QuestionsZoom

Challenge questions were asked during the World Cafe.

In-between the opening and closing plenaries, and the words spoken by Stacey Young and Ellen Starbird from USAID as book-ends to the day, breakout sessions offered opportunities to look in a more intimate setting at how some of these challenges are being addressed and what we can learn from those experiences and transfer elsewhere.

To complement the breakout sessions a marketplace provided opportunities for browsing, get ideas from organizations from the health and other sectors who have made progress in incorporating KM approaches in their work, generously sharing their “aha’s.”  And finally, smart phones were activated during the plenaries to poll the audience about a variety of matters, with instant feedback on the screen in front of us.

Right in style with the mandate of the Global Health Knowledge Collaborative (GHKC), the day was a truly collaborative affair, both in the planning and execution stages, with new connections made, old ones revitalized and our minds buzzing with possibilities.