Lack of "reading culture"? And ideas on podcasts, audio books, online courses

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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Lack of "reading culture"?

Well, yea, such courses are really very, very important. But it is not up to SuSanA to organise those... SuSanA is just a network, we have plenty of partner organisations who are already offering courses all over the world.
But SuSanA can help you find these courses...

See e.g. some information here in the WG 1 factsheet:
www.susana.org/lang-en/library/rm-susana...peitem&type=2&id=167

Information on courses is also here on the forum:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/140-courses-and-trainings

Then there is a list of courses that GIZ compiled in 2009:
susana.org/lang-en/library/library?view=...eitem&type=2&id=1890

And you can filter the 217 SuSanA partners by "education/research" by clicking on the selection item on the right hand side on this page:
www.susana.org/partners

It is up to the SuSanA partners to use the SuSanA network to advertise their courses (or to investigate demand for further courses), and up to the SuSanbA members to articulate if they still see gaps in courses for certain countries or subjects maybe...

Oh and here on the forum you also find interesting discussions on the topic of "capacity building":
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/54-wg-1-cap-development

About the podcasts with sanitation themes, I think this is quite interesting; I wonder which SuSanA partner(s) could pick this up or has maybe already done so in the past. Maybe as part of the online course which Chris Zurbrugg mentioned here?:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/54-wg-...mit=12&start=12#4696

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • defofiemaryp
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Re: Lack of "reading culture"?

You are right! I agree with you that SuSanA should look at the possibilities of organizing short-courses and workshops to fill a gap between theory and practice.

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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Lack of "reading culture"?

The idea: "how about creating knowledge "audio-books" one can easily listen to while in a car or such," is good, but the problem is, it will create distraction, while driving. I don't think, traffic police will allow this.

From my own experience, I find that there is lack reading culture. People in water and sanitation sector are not quite knowledgeable. They tend to copy from other reports. In one department, the design of overhead reservior is taken from a document of 1932!!

For me, the best course of gaining a broad knowledge in a relatively short time, is by attending short-courses (e.g., at AIT, Bangkok), or workshops (e.g., at ADB, Manila). It is true that many documents are lying on the hard disc of computers, for reveiwing later, but we never get a chance to do so.

SuSanA needs to look at the possibilities of holding short-courses and workshops, once in a while, with the provision of financial aid (from international donor agencies), for participation.

F H Mughal
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  • joeturner
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Re: Lack of "reading culture"?

I'm not sure if it is quite the same idea, Julius, but I've been thinking in another context about the need for a way to 'translate' academic findings into a more usable format 'for the rest of us'.

Making a radio prog (or good podcast) which is interesting to listen to is quite a challenge (but a great idea!). I'm not sure who would have the time to put into doing that properly.
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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Lack of "reading culture"?

international.cgdev.org/publication/esca...n-pdia-working-paper

Nice example of a "development" pod-cast discussing a scientific paper.
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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Lack of "reading culture"?

Hmm, a quick thought:

Since some of us have to travel a lot (be it internationally or to remote rural areas), how about creating knowledge "audio-books" one can easily listen to while in a car or such? There could be a regular SuSanA pod-cast, for example?

Obviously you can't just have someone read a scientific publication, but those are usually already a bore to read by yourself ;)

One could also take the route of IVR (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interactive_voice_response i.e. freedomfone.org ) to make such audio-recordings available anywhere, any time through a toll free number.
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  • Robert7
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Re: Lack of "reading culture"?

I think most of us write a whole lot with very little vital information. You may have to read several pages of a document/ post without being convinced about the need to continue reading. Put out precise quality materials with photos or images where necessary. In my opinion i think it will help.
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  • Marijn Zandee
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Re: Lack of "reading culture"?

Julius,

Dropping the O&M example, I think there are 2 things.

1.) People who want to read articles and keep up with changes in their field, where the question is: How do you get this done time-wise?
2.) People who are comfortable where they are and and don't, where the question is: How do you motivate them?

To get to the first, I totally recognize your point of having a large "to read folder", I did not even manage to sign in to this forum the last month and a half. Ultimately I think it is up to organizations to give people the space and time to read. Problem here is that we are usually only with organizations for 2 or 3 years in development. It seems a phenomena in all professions now, there is more information available then ever. But how to keep track of it all? And how do you organize it?

The second is probably even harder to crack, if people don't want I guess they don't want. Blaming that on "our culture" is a bit lame in my view. I think forcing people to contribute to fora, is not likely to help (how do you ensure quality?).

Probably in project design knowledge management could be given a higher priority, digital libraries created within projects at the start which are available to all staff?

Further, I think often donors could be tougher on hiring competent and motivated staff in partner organizations. I know this is very hard to achieve in "network societies" -especially when dealing with government organizations- but I am often left with the feeling that in this respect a tougher stance would yield better results in the long-term.

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Marijn
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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Lack of "reading culture"?

Well maybe O&M isn't the best example of this, as usually it isn't a problem of lacking knowledge and only to a lesser degree that of lacking experience, but rather a lack of O&M systems (supply chains etc.), incentives and funds.

However, in my current main line of work (mainly IWRM) there is still a lot of need to rise awareness of the broader issues related to water resources even in circles of WASH practitioners. It is however extremely difficult to engage them in a worthwhile dialog and I have strong doubts that they even read most the material we prepare and make available to them.

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  • Marijn Zandee
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Re: Lack of "reading culture"?

Hmm, being in a somewhat philosophical post-holiday mood, let me add some thoughts.

While I agree that it is almost impossible to keep up with the stream of reports being published I think there may be other challenges as well.

Especially if we look at the example of the lack of O&M it will be very difficult to claim that you never came across any warning that this is important (unless you really never read any manual:-)).

Some other reasons for lack of O&M that I can think of:
1.) Many of us are engineers, building stuff is fun and the "soft" trainings are not.
2.) O&M trainings are at the end of the project, time/budget is running out....
3.) There was never true buy-in from the community in the first place, O&M training was done but the ownership lacked from the start.
4.) Contractors make money building infrastructure, the trainings at the end are and unproductive cost item (in the short term).
5.) Donors pay for the number of toilets constructed, not for the number of trainings given.

And there are probably more along the same lines.

Besides that I think that as a project manager you are responsible for making sure you at least take the time to study relevant documents and especially to create the time and "space" for your staff to read what is relevant (pass on the documents you find useful).

Rgds

Marijn
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  • AquaVerde
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Re: Lack of "reading culture"?

Dear Colleagues,

The following is as well some how related to the "patents" issue started by Ben.

In my opinion all "success stories" and "patents" too have a history of preliminary "mistakes". Try to remember your own childhood and also on our own children. We all started just by trial and error and still doing so till the end of lives. "Learning by doing". So every body is relying first on their own "mistakes". Later "mistakes"/advices from parents have been accepted too. Much much later "mistakes"/advices from trusted teachers & colleagues have also been accepted. So in my personal view, if an experienced college really opens up and talks about his/her made mistakes, I listen very carefully, as through her/his process of making mistakes, very important "keys" to the particular subjects have been developed too.

All this reports on "lesson learned" (unfortunately often only artificial made) try to tap on these "mistakes" = learning by doing. At least allowing a culture of "mistakes" in your organization and even to your self makes life easier, if "we" exchange honestly about these experiences.

I guess, with all our Phd's, MSc's. BSc's, ages and so on, we tend to forget about our own childhood and being annoyed by ongoing processes of "mistakes" by others...

Take it easy... ;-)

Detlef
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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Lack of "reading culture"?

Thanks for the thoughtful reply!

I agree with you and yes I think there is too much relatively low quality or too theoretical publications produced, resulting in people not reading any of it or just skipping through (I am speaking of my own experience at least, I am doing it also).

Obviously a forum can't replace a proper manual, but to link it with your last comment... due to its interactive nature is is probably the better tool to complement the long learning journey of getting real experience.

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