"Facilitate" means "to make it easier", and it is in the practice of facilitation that the Source Camp style is grounded. The traditional lecture-heavy approach is avoided and discussion and exchange are encouraged instead. We hope that all participants will enjoy opportunities to speak and listen to one another, contribute their ideas and expertise, speak up when they have problems, work with others, and achieve quality results.
Facilitators need to set the tone in such a way as to ensure that the participants take charge and ownership of the event. This section outlines practical ways to promote the Source Camp Attitude and Philosophy and includes tips for facilitators.
The Source Camp philosophy has grown from the approach formulated by Aspiration, and many of these ideas have been garnered from their wiki.
Facilitators are selected by the organisers, with input from the advisory group and the team that creates the agenda for the event. Facilitators are from a variety of backgrounds and organisations, and predominantly selected for their previous experience, complimentary expertise, relevant knowledge, and patience and ability to share and promote learning in others. They are drawn from three pools:
- Active FOSS implementers and advocates, technology/NGO practitioners and researchers in the region. This group will include hackers, trainers, technical support professionals, programmers, support professionals, writers and theorists.
- Experienced trainers. A limited number of people will be invited from the pool of trainers that have been identified and developed through previous Source events. These trainers are from Africa, Europe, North America, Central and South East Asia the Middle East and Latin America. They are selected according to their relevance to regional needs combined with their ability to bring unique expertise to the event.
- New facilitators. We have found that the best way to ensure that new expertise is identified and acknowledged is to identify new facilitators from the application pool. All facilitators are expected to take part in the event beyond their own sessions.
We have a large network of expert trainers and facilitators who we have worked with in the past. If you need help identifying the right people, please contact us (details are on the Collaborate With Us page).
Promote dialogue as much as possible
Do not fall into the traps of either wanting to hear yourself talk, or trying to ensure that great facilitators that have been flown half-way around the world have enough room to talk. It is important that the content of the discussions is driven by all participants sharing their needs, knowledge and experiences. It is vital that lead facilitators prevent others from falling into traditional lecturing mode. Learning should occur primarily from and between participants.
Encourage participants to talk and ask questions
Ensuring that participants are continually asking questions leads to relevant, needs-driven content, application and learning. The difference between conferences and Source Camps is that the former often celebrates expertise, while the latter focuses on the knowledge needs of the participants.
A few good quotes from Gunner, the facilitation guru:
"You cannot say great question too often. The currency in which we trade, the currency of this event is the question."
"The people in this room form the largest library of knowledge. It is up to you to make sure to claim what you want to take away from here. Ask questions!"
"If we build the social connections, that is the most important learning we can do."
"The question drives the spirit to share"
Facilitators = Participants
The Source Camps' power emerges as participants share their skills and expertise with one another. Some parts of the programme are specifically designed to encourage every participant to share their hidden talents as much as possible.
- Have a look at the Running the Programme page for general info on the sessions and content
- Also, ssee the section on skill-share session on the Special Sessions page
It's ok to relax (sometimes)
Source events are long and stressful, and sometimes it's alright to just send people to the beach and let them relax or suggest more breaks and lower the intensity of the course for a while.
Focus on process and content
For each session, facilitators are asked to share an inspiring vision of the issue and to prepare session plans with their session peers. Sessions should be focused on results and collaboration; participants will hopefully leave each workshop with new knowledge and new acquaintances with whom the dialogue can continue. Aiming for maximum involvement of every participant brings out hidden expertise that exist in every group. Facilitators promote honest communication and creative problem solving, and celebrate accomplishments and contributions. The approach to facilitation places emphasis on individual learning paths - facilitators are guides rather than "teachers". Along the way, checking understanding is key, especially when using acronyms and other technical jargon.
Reflecting on the day passed and planning for the day ahead is essential for ensuring that facilitators are in touch with -- and thus able to effectively meet -- the needs of the participants. The sense of community that is so important for generating a positive environment comes from spending a significant amount of time with fellow facilitators. However, to prevent these meetings from creating a separation between facilitators and participants, it's important to explain what the meetings are for, and to invite anyone who wants to attend to join in.
During the Arab Source Preparation Meeting in Damascus we reliased that Facilitation is not easy to translate into Arabic. Coordination, Support, Creating enabling environment. Possible Arabic terms that describe the role of a facilitator are: Moussahel or Moyasser.