The programme for every Source Camp is unique, as it is designed to best fit the needs of a particular region and target group. The final agenda for every Source Camp is ultimately prepared by facilitators and participants. This part of the wiki describes how to go about defining the programme, and has links to templates and examples.
"Source events are skill-share events, with some similarity to free-form radio: The audience has a lot of input and influence on the radio, but that does not mean there is no programming." Marek
- Two example agendas from previous Source events are attached below
- Off Agenda Programme creating off-agenda programmes
- Special sessions covers hands-on technical workshops and other fun stuff
Staying on time
This might seem like a strange topic to start with, but scheduling is a major challenge during everyday Camp life. There are always too many interesting discussions, people, and things to start on time. However, Source Camps are intensive workshops that cover a vast range of content, and it is crucial to start and end sessions on time. Ending on time is often especially harder than expected, as participants will want to continue interesting discussion and keep asking questions. Be strict and resourceful in keeping participants on time:
- Play the same song every time participants are expected to come together for a group meeting, meals or other activities.
- A great way to get people together is to have a small group walking through the camp playing a song. Gunner's wake up call songs at Africa Source 2 were legendary.
One day in the life of a source event
The best way to get an impression of how a typical Source Camp day pans out is to check out agenda overview plans from previous events. Two are attached to this page as pdf files. Typically, days start early and end late and contain long hours of hard work as well as periods of relaxation and fun. It's very important to get the mix right.
After lunch participants have considerable free time. This enables people to stay in touch with their office and help out in case their input is needed. Others use it to relax and recharge their batteries. It's also a great way for participants to 'hang out' with each other and get to know those in different tracks.
Identifying content tracks
A track is a content stream that focuses on a particular topic. Participants are grouped according to their tracks of interest, which act as beacons for their learning. Participants follow one track throughout the workshop.
The most relevant tracks are identified through discussion between the implementing organisation, its partners and the advisory group prior to the application process. When applying, participants identify which track they want to be part of during the Camp. This is then revised after the application process (when it is clearer which tracks are most relevant to the participants). For example, for Africa Source 2, the applicants were far more interested in migration than anticipated, so the migration track was split and one of the initially proposed tracks was broken into individual sessions for the afternoons.
Content tracks (also referred to as morning tracks) should be designed to facilitate exchange between participants as much as possible. The effect is that participants not only develop skills, but also form networks with their peers, which will last beyond the duration of the Camp. The number of facilitators per track depends on the content of the track, and the background of participants. Very diverse groups will require more facilitators with equally diverse backgrounds.
Planning the contents of each track
Once most of the facilitators and participants have been selected, the contents of each track are mapped out by its facilitators. It is useful to refer to the applications for a better understanding of the needs and interests of participants. Begin by hashing out as many possible topics as possible, and then narrow them down to a realistic list. It's great if this process can be completed before the Camp, but often the details are only decided once all facilitators have arrived - usually at least one day before the start of the event.
Facilitator meeting before the camp
On the day before the Camp starts, facilitators meet face-to-face and set out a rough outline of contents for the week, define the desired outcomes of their track, and discuss the structure of the first meeting with participants. The topics and course structure is only finalised after the first group meeting with participants, in order to account for backgrounds and expectations.
Starting the planning / preparation early
While a loose and flexible design of sessions is important to take into account the needs of the participants, doing some planning ahead of the event can greatly help facilitators prepare for their role. Ultimately it is the facilitators who are responsible for the contents and how they will be presented. While it is good to start discussions early one should keep in mind that facilitators volunteer their time - and they might not be able to contribute much before the start of the event. Some things that are useful to be discussed beforehand, ideally on an email mailing list are mentioned below:
- The initial ideas of the facilitators on what topics they wold like to cover in their tracks
- Discussion of presentation materials, required infrasctructure, and back-up plans if technology fails
- Preparation of offline resources to bring to the camp, so that lack of Internet connectivity will never be a show stopper.
The first day sets the tone for the rest of the Camp. It is very different from the other days, and contextualises the Camp objectives within local, regional and global perspectives. The morning of day 1 is spent in an open plenary session. This is the only time that a few people address many, and content is delivered in an almost-lecture format. This is then contrasted with a strong team-building exercise of the whole group.
It is during the first day that the Spectogram is introduced. The activity helps to illustrate the way that Source Camp uses discussion and sharing between participants to promote learning:
- Learning is always a participatory process
- There are always more answers to one question than one might expect
- Every position is right (there is no right or wrong)
- And you can always change your opinion (and shift on the Spectogram)
During the afternoon sessions of the first day, the participants break into their major tracks for introductions, and discussion of expectations and objectives for the week. Facilitators then use the first evening to set out the outline for the week ahead. The final detailed plan for each track is usually created during the afternoon of day 2.
Each day starts with a morning circle, where all participants of the camp form sit in a gigantic circle. The usual way to start is by asking a question that is then answered by all participants. Examples from Africa Source 2 include:
- When is your birthday? This is also a great way to find out who is celebrating a birthday during the Camp.
- In one word, describe how you feel this morning!
Following this, general and admin issues are discussed, individual content tracks report on their progress to the whole group, and anyone can make an announcement.
Running individual content (morning) tracks
The aims of the morning sessions are to:
- Expose participants to a concrete set of inter-related skills and ideas,
- Enable them to see and test a wide variety of tools, techniques and solutions, and
- Promote awareness of the options and ways to implement them (or at least finding more information) in a particular thematic area.
While each content track focuses on a specific topic, it brings together participants with a wide range of relevant experience, and lessons to share. Hearing from all participants not only adds new perspectives to the discussion, but also creates community spirit. Through discussions, participants develop a sense of being able to support and help each other.
Generally, each content / morning track works towards the goal of producing an end-result, such as a creating an example NGO-office or classroom, that can be presented to and tried out by others. The format of the week follows a basic flow: begin with a thematic and contextual discussion; move on to practical implementation and learning in small groups; look at real-life issues of maintenance and upkeep, and then finally end with a presentation to others.
Plan of action
The success of the camp hinges on participants leveraging the knowledge, skills and relationships built during the event when they return to their organisations. Participants compile a plan of action in the first few sessions of their individual tracks, with the help of the facilitators.
In order to achieve this, the following methods have proven useful:
- Time is allocated each day for small groups to work on individual participants' action plans.
- Each participant has the opportunity to be the focus person, and is supported in developing their action plan by the whole group.
- Facilitators float between groups to help with problems.
- Towards the end of the Camp, participants present the work they have done during the week and present their action plan (explaining what they intend to do when they return.)
- The presentation of action plans can be done in pairs, with partners presenting one another's plans.
- Examples of plans and resolutions are available on the wiki of Foss Road.
Example: Migration track at Africa Source 2
At Africa Source 2 one of the content tracks dealt with migration of a computer lab from proprietary software to FOSS. In this context, the facilitators prepared some questions that participants could focus on in their individual action plans, including:
- Who do we have to convince that migration is a good idea?
- Are we doing a full migration/partial migration? Why?
- What are the next steps, timeline, after I return from the Camp?
Common format for content track sessions
A common format for content track sessions has been found to work well.
- Present a case study: Ideally these case studies are prepared by participants and cover their individual projects, problems, and solutions. Facilitators can present case studies if they are found to add a special perspective that would otherwise be lost. Case-study presentations are usually very short (5-10 minutes) and should be followed by longer group discussions (20-30 minutes).
- Break the group into smaller teams as much as possible. Define individual tasks that small groups (2-5 people) can work on together. Ensure that there is sufficient time to report back to the larger group on progress and experience.
- Large group discussion: Some of the bigger topics require discussion in the whole group. Ensure that lecturing is kept to an absolute minimum, and encourage questions and comments as much as possible.
- Hands-on: Learning by doing is the key to skills development. Practice it in the sessions.
- Please also see the background notes on facilitation on the Facilitation Source Camp-Style page.
Afternoon tracks offer elective and inter-disciplinary workshops on a range of topics. Usually these are not broad enough for a full week-long morning track, but are important nevertheless. They are usually covered in one or a few afternoon sessions.
Sessions are run in parallel each afternoon, and are a good mix of group discussions, hands-on workshops and more formal training sessions. Participants are free to explore different sessions each afternoon. These sessions aim to expose participants to a variety of areas to fit their interests and needs, and provide a taste of different approaches and solutions. Afternoon sessions are usually independent of each other, and provide introductions to a number of different subjects over the course of the week.
Sometimes participants have difficulties deciding which session they would like to attend. In this case, recommend that they refer to the wiki (which should contain notes on all sessions) and encourage people to talk to others who attended the other sessions.
Optional content for afternoon tracks includes:
- Topics in which participants from every track is interested.
- The same content that is covered in one morning track, so that people from other morning tracks can also take it.
- Africa Source 2 looked at:
- Alternative access (this was covered in a number of sessions)
- Using GIS for relief, service and advocacy work
- Tips and techniques for remote and rugged computing
- Solutions for using refurbished computers; when to and when not to
- FLOSSophy; discussion based sessions on issues such as IPR and FOSS policy
- For more details from Africa Source 2 please see the wiki
Process for devising afternoon tracks:
- Compile a list of sessions (usually about 30% of the available time allocated for afternoon tracks) that will definitely be held. This is usually content that is related to that covered in the main tracks.
- Analyse the application forms and identify potential topics for afternoon tracks. (Participants are requested to identify topics for which they can contribute). If there are multiple participants interested in the same topic, it makes sense to match them. However, a maximum of 2 people per session is advised, to prevent uncertainty as to who is responsible for organising the session.
- Facilitators should be attentive of participants' needs, which might not be covered in the sessions, and spontaneously set up additional sessions to address them. Also, some participants have unique skills and experience, which could be presented in additional sessions.
Adjust the programme as you go along
Even the best agenda is not set in stone. New opportunities and challenges will arise, and should be adressed. This is best done in daily facilitator meetings, during which emerging issues are exchanged. Summing up the learning and experience that happened during the day is essential for consolidation, as well as for identifying any outlying issues.