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le 17.01.2014 à 17:11:44

A change in posture for associations: embracing cooperation

Card's author : Corinne Lamarche et Claire Herrgott - SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : Setting up a one-day training course on network facilitation for local associations.

Why CoopLoc ?

After the training course CoopTic, we were asked to explain to some fifteen facilitators what we had learnt, in what was called a "scaling-down phase". Inhabitants from Lozère, with a dense associative fabric, wanted us to share our experiences with the local associations. We often heard: we always find the same people attending the different associations, people don't participate,…so, how can we encourage participation? How can we provide paid people or volunteers with a tool to optimise the way they facilitate these association networks?

Formalising the project

At first we were wondering what the duration of the training should be, the number of participants, the content of the course: we wanted to deal with so many things we had heard and experiences in Cooptic.
At the Moustic Meeting, we signed up for a workshop on the Project accelerator method. After forty-five minutes at last we had found the answers to our questions: "Conceiving a 6-hour training tool for 15 people with three objectives: living an irreversible cooperation experience, discovering collaborative tools and formulating a change in posture to facilitate participation of a network or association's members".
Thanks to this method, around ten people cleared the way and opened action tips to us.

What tools for organisation tasks ?

The tools used depended on the tasks to be done:
  • a wiki: where we created a section called Organisation (pedagogical plan, questionnaire), a section on Training (a page for participants where everyone could introduce themselves, a page for the day's tempo, a picnic page to organise a collaborative picnic) a section on Resources (links to networks and facilitator training resources, sites, articles, tools and a bibliography)
  • a file shared on Google Drive: a form for the registration of participants, for the report sent one week later; a text file to write an email between two people to then send it to the participants; a text file to write the press review article after the training course where all participants could contribute;
  • a Pad: for collaborative writing during the day of training;
  • a freeplane: one for a summarised introduction to the session, with Internet links; and another one that was completed on-site, at the end of the session, to explain the remarks made by the trainees;
  • a Doodle: to organise a picnic, which was sent to each participant to foster a bit of sharing
  • a Dropbox: to save final documents (the final email on pdf, the freeplane, the attendance sheet, the chart for the barcamp).

Pooling resources on the platform CoopTic during our own training allowed us to recover some parts of the course, (especially the course by Jean-Michel Cornu on Cooperation in 28 keywords)
On site, we were asked to fill in an on-line chart with the associations everyone knew, giving an email address or a physical address to increase our outreach.

Using these tools allowed us to reduce the number of meetings, and we were able to work on on-line documents, at a distance, between several people (to improve their contents) and to get the trainees involved in the training right from the start, as well as along the way.
le 17.01.2014 à 17:12:01

A pad for a rural accommodation. What for?

Card's author : Corinne Lamarche - SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : Creating a pad in an association

Why use a collaborative writing tool for the meetings?

As a member of the accommodation's office, I would receive several emails to prepare the meeting agenda and at the end I never knew which was the right one. Also, the minutes would be sent fifteen days after the meeting, announcing an event that had happened three days before. Since I didn't attend the meeting, the information was outdated. There was another issue that was a problem: I blamed it on not being physically there at the meeting and not being able to participate in the meeting.
That is why I suggested created an on-line space for collaborative writing, using framapad or piratepad.

Before the meeting

Ten days before the meeting, I sent the address for the pad by email with an initial draft agenda asking the office members to complete it. Everyone could mark on it whether they would attend the meeting or not, instead of sending emails to everyone saying if they would attend or not. People would complete the agenda and sometimes discussions would start before the meeting, or some issues were discussed beforehand, reducing the actual duration of the meetings.

During the meeting

Locked at home, the day of the meeting I could participate from home. I would read the discussion thread, typed by two people who were at the meeting, and I could intervene by asking questions, or asking for clarifications by adding them to the discussion thread. I really appreciated being able to participate despite my own personal constraints, and feeling as if I were there thanks to the chat and the engagement of those who were attending the meeting. This made me feel reassured since even if I was not physically at the meeting I could still find out what was going on and follow the discussions from home. The guilt I felt disappeared and my desire to participate was partly covered.

After the meeting

The day after the meeting I would export the notes taken on-line to a word document and saved it in my "CR Foyer rural" file. The facilitator did not need to send me the minutes by email.
Internet link : http://framapad.org/
le 28.01.2014 à 18:55:40
de static-ip-85-25-15-56.inaddr.ip-pool.com

Art students creating a wiki book

Card's author : Stephan Barron
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : Stéphan Barron set up a collaborative space for his art students. This space is a wiki. He is a teacher and researcher at the Paul-Valéry University, Montpellier III.

Why do this?

  • for a space to submit papers and homework,
  • for a space to find information, create, and share documents ...
  • for collective creation of contents
  • for a space for information on pedagogy, professional careers, exhibitions…

How can we conceive the courses?

This is the logical continuation to my teaching methods, which have always been open and participatory. It is a way of teaching that is half-way between the one used in fine-arts and the one used at universities. I hate traditional teaching methods at universities; I find them absurd and grotesque: doctors who have written a thesis on a highly-specialised topic, as an extension to their studies, under the umbrella of such or such professors, force their students to learn words that are set in stone and to repeat them like wise apes. What I am interested in is learning to learn, discovering, knowing and improving…that is the real sense of teaching for me. There is a text on this in the wiki below http://archive-driver.ru/


How do students relate to this?

Of course there is a different relationship that is less hierarchical and frontal, more distributed. Even classrooms must be different: forming a circle and not a pyramid. I am with the students and I am there to share and learn also. I do not have the absolute truth, knowledge changes constantly and everyone knows something they can contribute to the group and to me. It's not demagogy, it's true. Each generation of students know something new (techniques, or books). An example of this is the video-art wiki: we talk all together and if a student has something new and interesting to share, it is posted on the wiki…

The difficulties and barriers to avoid

There are technical difficulties. Sometimes students delete key functions, like a student who placed his file in the page for research and blocked this function for a whole year until we finally understood what had happened. Some student profiles were blocked on the tool, but it's a broader problem all together. Others simply just don't understand why we are using it and are simply not motivated and lazy. They prefer sitting at their desk and listen to words, just because they're lazy
Internet link : http://www.artwiki.fr
le 17.01.2014 à 17:13:55

A taste of OpenStreetMap, technical skills and a lot of patience for a citizen mapping and the valuing of scrubland heritage

Card's author : Manon Pierrel - Association Collectif des Garrigues
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : Members of the Collectif des Garrigues managed to converge two of their projects which, at first sight, seemed far apart. One project was on participatory mapping, requiring some technical skills, internet tools…and a project to learn about and value the scrubland heritage lead by people who are passionate about history, books and the scrublands…These two "groups" met within the Collectif des Garrigues to set up a lovely collective project, rich in knowledge and innovative! The main goal of this project is to contribute to the dynamics of the network between the actors in the scrublands by co-drawing interactive maps (with collective contributions) as a support to show the rich heritage in the area, to share knowledge and to bring value into the scrubland territory.

Collective areas developed by the network members

The members of the Collectif des Garrigues (350 people) started a common project in several "areas". The goal was to create, bring value to and transmit common goods (knowledge, photographs, written documents and thoughts) on the scrubland territory.
Since 2010, several works have been developed, such as:
  • preparing a Scrubland Atlas (a co-written book for the public at large including all areas of knowledge relating to the territory – to be published in the autumn of 2013),
  • creating a shared photo gallery,
and also more "themed" work on:
  • harvesting in scrublands, and a compilation of local recipes,
  • scrubland heritage, dry stone and dry stone cabins (Capitelles), coal furnaces and inventories,
  • or even works on the discovery of tools, such as the sound media or participatory mapping.

The network members who participate in all these work areas have spaces on the Internet (wikis) to work on and produce content together and at a distance. They have discussion lists, co-writing tools (Etherpad) and "software" that allows them to organise their work (face-to-face for logistics or the distribution of work) and tools to disseminate their work. Many of these work areas perform very well, make rapid progress, and some are even at the stage of completion (especially the Atlas) while new projects are created almost every month. The network members develop the work areas themselves and facilitate participation in the different work pillars. Once the first productions are ready, works are assessed and disseminated at large, especially though their monthly newsletter and the website of the Collectivité des Garrigues, wikigarrigue.info. This way of working makes members want to continue working together to develop some projects in greater depth...and this creates an even greater convergence of work areas and the establishment of new ones. The proof is in the pudding!

The network members have decided to cross two of their collective work areas

Two work areas, one on the scrubland heritage and one on participatory mapping of a territory, were developed in parallel first in 2011 and then in 2012 with a first conviviality meeting to get to know each other and exchange ideas, the Rendez-vous des Garrigues (Scrubland Excursions) are organised every month, and remote group work sending and receiving emails and co-writing collective summaries. Both these work areas followed their own organization and work method. Gradually, they found an interesting area to explore and converge around, leading to the project of participatory mapping of the heritage to bring the inhabitants of the area onboard to hear of the knowledge and management of the territory where they live.
How did the members of the Collectif des Garrigues work to get these two work areas to progress independently? How were they linked further on?

The project to bring value to local knowledge and know-how

This project to gather the knowledge and know-how of the scrublands is, in fact, the story of the scrubland project! Since 2004, the goal of the Collectif des Garrigues has been to discuss the future of the territory, to share the knowledge acquired and dotted around the scrublands to learn to know more about it and to manage it better.
The theme knowledge on "heritage" gained momentum in 2011 with the organising of the Rendez-vous des Garrigues (Scrubland Excursions) on this theme. Dry-stone heritage is particularly an identity feature of the scrublands and the structures (associations or groups) in charge of bringing value to and restoring this heritage on a local level often face the same problems in all scrubland territories. That is why they needed to meet and take some time to think collectively so they could advance collectively in some projects.
After this Scrubland Excursion, some concrete actions were put in place:
  • discovering the different heritage sites in the scrublands of Gard and Hérault together. (This was done in the autumn of 2012 with a heritage-themed Scrubland Excursion in Poussan (34)).
  • making a directory of associations specialising on the territory to enrich the experiences and exchanges within the group.
  • pooling the documents drafted by heritage actors (presentation leaflets for the sites, studies and inventories).
For these projects to succeed, network members used document sharing tools (Google Drive for excel spreadsheets), and exchanged many emails (using the discussion list created especially for heritage).
In the autumn of 2012, with all the exchanges on the list, a second Scrubland Excursion was organised on this theme. That is when the idea emerged of creating a directory of directories of all the dry-stone cabins in the scrubland territories to end up with a map of the areas with these constructions (400,000 Ha.)
One of the members of the heritage group decided to be in charge of the project.
  • The first work was done there and then, during the Scrubland Excursion, with around twenty participants, with the aim of drawing on large paper maps of the territory all those areas with dry-stone cabins.
  • next, a large part of the work involved sending and receiving emails. There was quite a large mobilisation to have a directory of directories of the territory; this was done by the associations and structures interested in doing so.
  • then there was a significant part of summarising to feed the excel spreadsheet: Determining the areas rich in dry-stone cabins and huts: Gard-Hérault.
  • The following information was collected by department and large landscape area: if a location study (or inventory) existed, the name of the author, structure, number of dry-stone cabins (estimated or known) and the number of them in good state of conservation, if they had been mapped or not, and some general remarks.
  • at the same time we were able to gather and computerise the studies we had received to publish them on the Internet platform of the Collectif des Garrigues,
  • in two months, the map was done. It will serve to illustrate one of the articles in the Scrubland Atlas.

A second work area, the dynamics of free citizen mapping to bring life to a territory

For this work area, the associations Outils-Réseaux, and Tiriad pushed us and encouraged us to discover OpenStreetMap and all that goes with it…They came to us with a one-day training session on OSM followed by a Scrubland Excursion focusing on this tool so we could see what to expect from this approach of free mapping of a territory. This excursion was slightly more technical but it was still able to attract around fifteen people to it. Foregoing members of the network (!) who perceived the interest in this kind of initiatives to bring value to their knowledge on the territory.
This training session took place in Gignac (34) in April 2012, and was followed by a carto-party on site to continue attracting people. The idea for each of these stages was to learn about the data collected and how to put them on-line to gradually specialise in mapping elements that were of our interest (especially heritage). At each carto-party we were able to attract new people.
Since the spring of 2012 a healthy group of around forty have continued with the project "cartogarrigue". They have a simple discussion list to exchange and work together which is extremely active and reactive, and convivial with the help of the Collectif des Garrigues network that helps with the organisation and logistics.
In a first stage, the group "cartogarrigue" took some time to learn to use the tool and to build a common discourse. Then it started to train in real life with the organisation of carto-parties in the territories. The idea of mapping the heritage elements was suggested quite quickly, especially because the group members established many links between their work and that of the heritage group, working in parallel…Invitations were sent and there is room for everyone to contribute their knowledge and experiences in each of the two work areas. This group movement, and the overlapping interest lead to the creation of a OSM glossary adapted to the scrublands with vocabulary specific to the territory. (Olive yards, limestone kilns, dry-stone houses and huts…) and tags associated to them.

Today, the convergence of these two projects offers nice perspectives for partnerships, common projects and common financing opportunities

These two convergent dynamics have lead to a common response to a tender called by the metropolitan area of Nimes in its framework of sustainable development policies for 2013. Participatory heritage mapping to engage citizens in knowing and managing the land in which they live.
The submitted project consists in organising a session to give information and exchange experiences on collaborative mapping. To prepare this project and introduce the experiences of territories that participate in these dynamics, the special glossary on scrublands was made, preparing a carto-party programme for the year collectively. The idea is to work in close partnership with all participants in both these work areas, OSM contributors, the leaders of these two areas and associations or groups interested in heritage…
Other partners joined in later:
  • collaboration with the SILAT masters' degree: Localised Information System for Land Use Planning (in French). The team of professors would like to have a themed approach on mapping, to map heritage more than a city or town…
  • a similar collaboration with the school "SupAgro?" in Montpellier.
  • Also, the group cartogarrigue will be mobilised to explain its experience in organising a carto-party with the Carré d'Art in the city of Nimes…
For each of its partners, the Collectif des Garrigues is the reference source for organising scrubland heritage mappings.

The work areas also continue to work independently...

For the project on free mapping on the territory, the Collectif des Garrigues would like to develop a mapping web interface to disseminate the themed maps or the knowledge maps on the scrublands (geology, water resources, bushfire risks…) on the site of the Live Scrubland Encyclopaedia. With a second section and placing a particular emphasis on establishing a participatory tool to make a directory of all the different information and data that are relevant to the future land use in the scrublands (displacements, proximity services, agriculture).
For the heritage project, it would seem interesting to continue with the discussions and to contribute knowledge in the form of collaborative work areas. Especially through co-writing articles and themes to discuss such as the type of buildings, dry-stone huts in literature or these huts in relation to land ownership…for example.

<div class=well style=text-align:justify>

The Collectif des Garrigues, a network of actors at the service of the scrubland territories in Gard and Hérault

Scrublands have a rich diversity of endemic wildlife and plants, a history and an ancient culture that is strongly linked to the origins of human activities (shepherds and coal producers, dry-stone huts and other dry-stone buildings); scrublands also have a rich diversity of landscapes. Until now, they have not been paid much attention and have often been considered as "the underbelly between the Cévennes and the Languedoc Coast" and have never had a structuring project; the scrublands of Gard and Hérault let themselves be discovered and become organised to state their own identity.
Therefore, actors on the territory (researchers, elected members, managers, inhabitants and users) came together to broaden their knowledge, their experiences with the aim of gaining a better understanding a better grasp on and a better management of these scrublands. The Collectif des Garrigues is born! It aims to bring together and bring value to the experiences and knowledge on the scrublands. To contribute to bring actors closer to the territory. Finally, it aims to start a reflection process on the future of the scrublands, preserving and developing the specificities of these lands, respecting the livelihoods of its inhabitants.
</div> <!-- fin well -->
Internet link : http://www.wikigarrigue.info
le 17.01.2014 à 17:14:23

A wiki at the service of a facilitation work group

Card's author : Gatien Bataille
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : Since 2012, a work group (WG) on "outside" facilitation is organised in the French-speaking Belgium.
This WG targets environmental education professionals, teachers, volunteers and supporters...
It aims to create the adequate conditions for collective work to promote nature walks in Wallonia, for adults and children alike.

After some "traditional" management by the WG (exchanging emails) the network facilitator decided to create a wiki (yeswiki) together with a mailing list.
This step forward allowed creating a more participatory and decentralised dynamic within the WG.

Initially, the wiki was created and customised by one member of the network with the technical skills.
The wiki pages had been conceived so that "everyone could modify them", the network facilitator had control over the whole content on the wiki and didn't depend on anyone to modify the wiki and bring life to it. To reduce the barriers to participation even further (some network members were not at all keen on using ICT tools and the wiki, even if it is easy to do) "pads" (spaces to write directly without needing an account or technical skills) were included in some of the wiki pages (drafting agendas, minutes of the meeting…).

Using this wiki allowed:

Using this wiki lead to the following remarks:
  • explaining the licence used for collective productions (CC BY SA) was met with astonishing enthusiasm
  • co-drafting the agendas and minutes was a joy for some members who weren't used to doing this kind of thing in their structure
  • It will be useful to have a training session on the wiki so that ALL members can make the modification they want to the wiki
Internet link : http://www.tousdehors.be
le 17.01.2014 à 17:14:39

A wiki for the EEDD network of Savoy

Card's author : Antoine Delarue
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : The EEDD73 network was created on the 27th November 2012.
Creating a platform for participatory exchange was one of the desires of the Steering Committee of the EEDD73 Network. My knowledge and skills for these tools were therefore interesting for the whole project.
In order to create this Wiki, I carried out structure interviews using this platform to get a clear idea on the procedures (REEMA, Outils-réseaux ...).
Having some basic knowledge on how to use this tool, I read through literature and carried out practice "tests".

Meetings in the territory

The space "Meetings in the territory", is a space for information and organisation, as well as a space of participation for all the actors of these events, with the aim of uniting all the actors in Environmental and Sustainable Development Education (EEDD in French) to complete the charter.
We started with some very simple facts: email inboxes were being "flooded" with information and people were unable to process all this information. Therefore, setting up an active process of searching for information seemed interesting to us.
This space is used as a platform for direct exchanges between the people concerned, without going through the network facilitator directly.

An introduction to collaborative tools...

As part of this move, we organised a training course on on-line collaborative tools, with a whole section on how to use the Wiki.
So the information was conveyed in relation to the creation of this participatory site.

A platform like this allowed us to:

  • centralise all data
  • gain time
  • integrate all actors in the project so as to create together and use their expectations as a starting point (organising car-sharing, practical modes, shared meals)


  • People who registered had access to this information and could read this information.
  • Greater referral to the information
  • Low participation but from people who received the introductory training


  • Low direct participation in the pads and the Wiki
  • Not much openness to others

Things to avoid?

  • Going too fast!
  • Prioritising human contact at the start and then incorporating on-line collaborative tools


  • Take some time to ask people's opinions so they can really integrate this tool
  • Introduce future users of this tool beforehand (the importance of physical contact before distance collaboration)
  • Give users some space for freedom
  • Reassure users on the security of data
le 17.01.2014 à 16:49:56

How videoconferences saved my network

Card's author : Gatien Bataille
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : As a member of an environmental education network structure, over time I've seen the number of meetings and participation drop constantly.

It was mainly travel time that caused the number of meetings to drop drastically. More often than not, you spent more time travelling than actually in the meeting…
Eventually this discouraged even those of us who were most motivated...
Meetings became fewer and farther apart in time, and decisions were becoming less and less representative...
The frequency of meetings dropped so much we virtually held none.

I suggested to the other members that we could re-launch our meeting but with two "virtual" meetings between each "face-to-face" meeting (every three months).

For this I trained my colleagues face-to-face or with a brief video tutorial on how to use Google hangouts.

For more than a year and a half we have been using this communication channel for our meetings. Results came by themselves!
The level of participation rose again to almost 100% and the frequency of the meetings became monthly again.
The network dynamics is up and running once more.
Our meetings last 2 hours and dates are agreed collectively for the whole year.
The biggest change is in the duration of the meeting. Where before, for this two-hour meeting, each of us would have to travel for 3-4 hours, now the meeting lasts exactly two hours and everyone can go back to their activities in just 5 minutes.

Some remarks on this experience:
  • it is important to reassure participants explaining to them how the tool works.
  • video tutorials are very helpful. Recording them myself is also very helpful. True enough, contrary to "official" tutorials that always refer to "typical" situations, my ones, with my own voice comments, show a concrete situation that participants will experience. It is a real example, explained step-by-step.
  • it is important not to underestimate any initial small technical issues. We needed 4-5 meetings at the start for everyone to be ready. I was very available and supportive at the start.
  • it is important for the facilitator to master the tool well so he can solve all the small issues that arise (most often relating to configuring the participants' computers)
  • it is not wasting time to plan around 15 minutes at the start of the meeting to test everyone's sound and image settings (normally 3 minutes will be enough for this)
  • when a participant's internet connection is too weak funny sounds happen (like the sound of a waterfall).
  • on some occasion we had "hidden participants" who had invited themselves to our meetings. Even if this is not a "disaster" (since they were all colleagues of the participants) these "undeclared" participants (who didn't show themselves on screen or talk) created some unrest during the meeting. We asked these "invisible ones" to speak up or leave the meeting.
  • body language is not easy to grasp in this type of meetings even if the video image of each participant is visible. This requires the facilitator to be extra vigilant during the meeting. I quickly got a system of hand signs going to allow each participant to express their feelings on what was being said; these signs also allowed me to give the floor more easily.
  • having an on-line meeting does not mean a facilitator is not needed…they may be even more necessary than in face-to-face meetings!
  • you must be careful with the tone you use in virtual meetings. We saw that "distance" sometimes made us use a tone of voice that we would not have used in a face-to-face meeting!
  • with the Google hangouts it is very easy to have a co-writing area (Google-docs). This brings an added value to the tool since besides enabling distance meetings it is an introduction to co-drafting meeting minutes!

Two limitations:
  • this tool has a limitation that can be slightly annoying. Only 10 people can participate in a meeting, at least on video. It is possible to have 5 additional people at the meeting but only with audio features.
  • participants are required to have a Google account (Gmail address)

Generally speaking, in use, all participants found this tool great and I only had to start the meeting and everyone would engage!
Internet link : http://www.crie.be
le 17.01.2014 à 17:15:07

I've become a fan of the project accelerator

Card's author : Laurent Tézenas - Montpellier SupAgro
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : I am a teacher at SupAgro Montpellier, in the department of Engineering, and I also teach on one-year diploma courses and professional masters. In the field of written and oral communication, work is done individually or in a group.
Whatever the type of work to be done, students must show their ability to mobilise their network to think of solutions, solve problems and overcome obstacles. Working alone does not exclude trusting others, giving them the opportunity of showing their availability and interest in our work. It is in this context that a project accelerator becomes operational.
A project accelerator isn't a software programme or IT tool; it is a method to limit exchanges between five people. This exercise lasts 60 minutes. One person explains a problem for the group to solve. The group will take 30 minutes to think about it and the person that explained the problem will not intervene.
I used this exercise with second-year engineers. Returning from a work traineeship, a debriefing in October gave the engineers the opportunity to talk about the roles, missions and activities they had to carry out during this traineeship, and then they had to remember the skills they had used. Then they had to form groups of 5 to share their experiences and also the difficulties they encountered. Each group then decided to choose a problem or difficulty they encountered and to apply the "project accelerator" method to it.
The students really appreciated this moment, since it was a structured time for exchange. The method allows everyone participate, even those who are shy, and it stops the person who asked the question from constantly re-focusing the problem since he or she does not participate in this collective thinking process. At the end of the exercise, students must pick a learning linked to the session, a small grain of sand. Some comments in this sense were: "it's really good that the person says no more after explaining the problem"; "developing the ability to listen really contributes to the thinking process".

A small irreversible cooperation experience!
le 17.01.2014 à 16:47:25

I am now hooked on on-line spreadsheets!

Card's author : Claire Herrgott
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : I am the pedagogical coordinator of a vocational training course. Saying coordination means OR-GA-NI-SA-TION!
It is not easy to centralise information, avoid overlapping and keeping students, teachers and partners updated!
After the COOPTIC training I know understand the benefits of cooperation and I try to be a "cooperative coordinator"!
A small example: we can multiply spreadsheets for the students of each course year (a spreadsheet with their information, topic of their research paper and internship tutor, etc.)
I created a single on-line spreadsheet that is filled in at the start of each year, when the research projects begin. Students then fill it in during their project; the academic assistant and the coordinator (me) complete the information on the spreadsheet to indicate if the agreement has been drafted, signed and sent; the team of teachers then fill in the column on "name of tutor". Once the students have started their internship, they then enter the information on their internship tutors, etc. and I use this to organise the support.
No more different spreadsheets to save on the server, to email, not knowing what version to use…now I use one single spreadsheet that is accessible to all and from anywhere!

A small anecdote: during a quality audit the Internet crashed and my spreadsheet was no longer accessible! Since then I always import in ods. format so that the same situation doesn't happen again!
le 17.01.2014 à 16:46:31

Infobesity: I am Gatien, I am infobese but I look after myself

Card's author : Gatien Bataille
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : Last night, in the building behind the cultural centre

  • Me: Good morning to all, I am Gatien and I am infobese
  • Everyone: Good morning Gatien!
  • Facilitator: Gatien, could you tell us about yourself?
  • Me, after taking a deep breath: I am unconsciously passionate... I am terribly frustrated because I can't follow the flow of information that circulates in the world every day, every hour, every second. I was engaged in many networks and naturally curious, I read magazines, all the latest books, I listened to the radio…and until recently I could manage all this…then the Internet arrived. Twitter, podcasts, webzines, newsletters, Google alerts, RSS threads…the range of possibilities became wider and wider and with an even greater number of fascinating topics. At the beginning I was overjoyed, but then frustration gradually moved in…too much interesting information I could not keep track of, I read through it all but never with enough time to go in-depth. The joy of constantly swimming in a pool of information rapidly became a feeling of drowning.
  • Facilitator: Gatien, how did you feel at that time?
  • With a trembling voice: I was so frustrated...also enraged with myself because I couldn't follow the rhythm.
  • Facilitator: Did you really think you could follow it all?
  • Recovering: No, I quickly understood that even if I used all my neurons, it would be utterly impossible to face this gigantic wave which grew larger and larger by the day. It's an unpleasant feeling…I had secretly hoped to cope with it.
  • Facilitator: So then what did you do?
  • Me: Initially I tried to be more organised. I was convinced that I could overcome this small hiccup by being better organised. I sorted emails automatically in my inbox. I cancelled my subscription to several newsletters, I organised my RSS threads and would only open articles that seemed truly relevant, I cut down on Twitter…
  • Facilitator: and…?
  • Me: Well…there were some positive effects with this organisation. We could say it became manageable again.
  • Facilitator: but you really don't look that satisfied?
  • Me: I ended asking myself if infobesity wasn't actually a part of one's character...
  • Facilitator: oh! Can you explain that?
  • Me: The more I thought about it, the more I realised I was already infobese, even before the times of Internet. You know how books pile up next to your bed quicker than you can read through them…and this was before Internet. I think this innate curiosity, the desire to learn, makes one infobese. Then you try reducing this infobesity so that the level of frustration is reasonable. And then Internet doesn't exactly make things easy. Of course there is an abundance of information, but there is also an abundance of information in libraries…what made it different, for me, was serendipity…
  • Facilitator: serendipity…I don't quite understand...
  • Me: when I am surfing the net looking for information on a specific topic it is too easy, much too easy, to come across a new topic by chance that you know little or nothing about and that, oh God! You find interesting…and then the trap closes again; another interesting topic, so now I have two…a new person to follow on Twitter, then two…an RSS thread to follow, now it's two…it's no good choosing as you go, choices must be made at the start…and this is extremely complicated. Especially when curiosity comes by nature.
  • Facilitator: What next?
  • Me, again with a quivering voice: well, I am still infobese… I think I was able to limit the stress, but my frustration remains just as high. I have learnt to keep things in perspective, to "close the store" from time to time, to convince myself that if some information is really important, it will come back to me, to go with the flow rather than trying to chase it…I think it's a good start. There's still a long way to go but you will help me, won't you?
  • All: Bravo Gatien, of course we will help you!

Some tips to manage infobesity

  • Choosing what newsletters you subscribe to…Those you don't really read = into the trash bin
  • Organising your inbox, set up an automatic sorting so that you only have important or urgent emails visible
  • Limit your subscriptions to RSS threads to topics that you are really interested in
  • Do not try to keep up with all RSS threads at whatever cost; threads older than 5 days are no longer "important" (in any case, it is up to you to choose which topics are important)
  • Plan a moment during the day to manage your infobesity…during the rest of the day, organise your time so that you are not "bothered" by the flow of information
  • Don't cause infobesity in others. Only re-scoop, re-tweet and re-send things that are really relevant
  • Share your infobesity and find support in your friends and colleagues to reduce your own personal infobesity. If everyone searches a specific topic and chooses the relevant information and the work is shared, all group members will see their infobesity drop.
le 14.01.2014 à 15:08:32

Made in Europe: CoopTic in Catalonia

Card's author : Jordi Picart i Barrot - Aposta sccl
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies :

Once upon a time

The CoopTic project arrived at our door in a rather informal way, as is often the case with these types of ideas, and provided an indication of an approach that places less emphasis on formal structures than on people networks: someone who knew someone had spoken about us and had proposed us getting involved. It was an opportunity, they told us, to explore new ways to design training and training tools.
Our school has always been characterised by its desire to ensure all training fits in with the principles of the cooperative movement that defines our own raison d'être, and this has traditionally obliged it to be very innovative in terms of its methodologies. Consequently, any opportunity to incorporate new perspectives is welcome and so at the time we hesitated very little over our participation in the project.
The initial working meetings, which alternated between telephone conferences between various parties, videoconferences, and a face to face meeting, immediately led us to understand that we were dealing with a much more ambitious idea than a simple exchange of methodologies; even so, this continued to be the interest of our organisation in the project.

The real meaning of the project

Regarding the direction the project took once up and running, there is little we need to add to all the information contained in the book you have in your hands; a quick glance at the index, however, can confirm various important concepts for you:

A proposal for a personal development journey

The project is based on a solid amount of intellectual material. In proposing that people obtain a ticket for CoopTic, we are suggesting to them a journey of personal development directed towards concepts linked with the common good, with sharing, with collective production. This goes beyond the simple strategy of exploring new tools to improve the projects that each is working on: it consists of exploring new attitudes and alternative states of mind. Not in an explicit way but undoubtedly involving epistemological change.

A truly meaningful learning process

The value of a meaningful learning process applies to everyone: offering the student an environment that allows him to experience what he has learnt and immediately incorporate it based on this experience. It's common to offer this type of environment; CoopTic however, doesn't build simulations but fills with meaning the use of the tools with a concrete goal, which reinforces the acquired concepts and adds more meaning to the methodologies, so they feed into each other in a really powerful, efficient way.

A network that creates networks

It is set out in the objectives of the project, and is therefore no secret to anyone: CoopTic is pursuing the creation of a European network of network facilitators; a suite of levels that contains within it a knowledge transfer process designed to act like an oil stain: from the promoting organisations to the members, and from these to their target public…and from here to the wider geographic environment.
And this, in a much closer working environment with closer relationships than would be the case with organisations that are not formal and associated, but is not the case with a project like the European Leonardo da Vinci project that is laid out to the millimetre. The CoopTic network manages to achieve involvement, co-participation, collective construction, inter-cooperation…

The fundamental challenge

All the training process that took place in 2012 was undertaken in French, even though it was geographically spread out, with the inspiration of the promoting organisations. Transmitting such complex (intangible) elements to a different reality, in a different language, became the major challenge.
It wasn't about translating materials and content; on the other hand, it wasn't possible to count on the direct expertise of the principal creators of the course. It would have been surreal to provide an important number of training hours with simultaneous translation, and a simple conference of one of two hours didn't justify the movement of the experts from neighbouring France.
On the other hand, our school has a well-defined target group and it was necessary to make an effort to adapt and include the whole group: the explicit and implicit objectives, the content and its orientation, and the methodologies. Even scheduling the calendar was unviable: if three three-day meetings had taken place in isolated locations to foster creativity and the cohesion of a strong group dynamic, with the possible Catalan users it was illusory to replicate such a scheme.

The options for adaptation involved:

Revisiting the contents in light of the social economy

The Catalan participants in the training programme came from organisations providing support to people, from cooperatives, from civic collectives…. Their needs are in keeping with a reality noticeably different from the original. This factor was the simplest to resolve, although though most arduous: a thorough analysis of the content of the training programme, a rethinking of the weight that each and every person had in the programme as a whole and the inclusion of specific modules to connect the original content with that of social economy.

Looking within the participants

The formulation of the title can seem pretentious, however the work on the core topics, linked with the personal attitudes in relation to the collaborative work and the common good, was the main victim of the fact that the people who inspired the core of the training proposal were not able to travel.
Yes, their texts were available; and someone translated them. However, what was effective was providing many opportunities for group reflection and exchanges; in other words, proposing to the participants that, based on the available texts and following a structured work schedule, they produce this knowledge autonomously.

Putting forward methodologies to strengthen the group and facilitate the creation of networks

It was necessary to compensate for the loss of opportunities to do things together (the course in Catalonia consisted of three days separated by a month in between each, with distance learning modules in between) with an extra focus on the collaborative activities, on opportunities for informal interaction, on getting to know each other.
Wherever possible, the analysis component of the work projects was undertaken taking into account the realities and basic difficulties of each of the participants.
Everyone was encouraged to contribute imaginative solutions to the difficulties of others.
Everyone was encouraged to be receptive, to listen to what others proposed regarding his or her problem.
Essentially, the aim was for the bonds of familiarity to strengthen at a rapid rate so that relationships would remain after the end of the course.

The participants evaluate the training

Once the course is finished, and at the time when a second course is being planned, various reviews are done in light of their personal evaluations:
  • The majority explicitly mention the adaptation components that we have just listed; consequently, these components have been present and noticeable in the course. And, it's important to say, the evaluation that is made of them is also very favourable.
  • Participation in a course with these characteristics represents an effort and dedication, however they state overwhelmingly that they would like even more sessions or, as a minimum, the realisation of some short one-off event that complements and widens the concepts.
  • The opportunities to maintain the links of collaboration between the participants have already occurred and, therefore, the participant from one entity has invited that of another to deliver a training session for his colleagues.
Last but not least, there is an intangible benefit that also gives an idea of the extent of the impact: Aposta is receiving requests, isolated but sufficient in number, to believe that there exists an interest in becoming familiar with the proposed training scheme and testing out ways to implement it with the cooperatives and entities within the Catalan social economy and tertiary sector.
And this cannot be considered a success; it is, simply, the clearest proof that we have a good idea on our hands, structured in a coherent way and oriented towards offering new and little used ways to those organisations that, seeking social change, need appropriate models.
le 14.01.2014 à 14:50:59

Mind maps in public discussions

Card's author : Laurent Marseault
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : When facilitating a public discussion, have you ever had:
  • someone repeating the same idea at least 5 times?
  • two people arguing over something when they are actually saying the same without understanding each other?
  • antagonists who argue during the discussion saying "Have you seen what they did…"?
  • participants who find a lot has been done but that not much progress has been achieved?
  • ...

Well it has happened to me very often before using mind maps to help facilitation.


  • a video projector
  • a computer with freemind, X-Mind or freeplane installed on it (I prefer the last one)
  • being well trained in listening and taking synthetic notes.

In the circle at the centre I write the topic of the discussion, and I then briefly write down the elements that link back to the discussion. Mind maps are filled in gradually. Ideas are organised and then re-organised. We stay on one part of the map to focus on a new aspect of the discussion...

Situations that arise when using mind maps:

  • two people disagree on where a word should be placed in the mind map. For them, the same word conveys different ideas, and going through this map they are able to see this.
  • some ideas are easy to place on the map, yet others…In this case, I ask the group to help me find a place for this new idea; very often the difficulty comes from an idea that modifies the way previous ideas are positioned on the map; time to think about it will make the group mature.
  • making all the branches visible at the end of the discussion makes the group aware of the path followed and they very often makes them feel proud of themselves.
  • in a discussion that will be tense, we started by listing the elements of the discussion. Then we grouped them together into three groups: those that do not need discussion because we all agree right from the start; those that we would like to leave for a later stage because they are more than likely to cause difficulties, and the third one, which we started with, is those elements that we can discuss without getting overheated.

Further steps:

  • next the map can be imported to the X-Mind software to play around with the structures (organisational chart, logical diagram, chart…). When the discussion seemed to have ended, the group started to discuss new elements and to work on ideas in a whole, getting the impression that they are moving to a higher level of discussion.
  • Very often, at the end of the discussion some people will ask for the name of the software used. Choosing software that is easy to use, free and that works on all platforms allows participants to lengthen their experience of thinking.

Important notes:

  • nowadays it is possible to build mind maps collaboratively using on-line mind map tools or using freemind, which also offers this function (it takes work to get it set-up)


http://petillant.com section on implementation and comprehension
le 17.01.2014 à 15:30:10

Mr Cloud to the service of my networks

Card's author : Gatien Bataille
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : The Cloud or storing data on-line is gradually becoming more democratic. Every month new tools are invented. This is extremely useful to access data wherever in the world with an Internet connection. "Cloud" services also offer new perspectives for network facilitation.
In a network's life, it rapidly becomes essential to:
  • make all information available (files, images, audio files…)
  • allow its members to gather information (files, photos, audio files...)
  • encourage collective work (especially through document sharing)
"Cloud"" tools make this possible quite easily.

Some examples:
  • The CRIE network (Centres for initiation to the environment in Belgium) shares several working documents using the service Google Drive. With this shared space the agendas are co-drafted, meeting minutes are drafted by several people during the meetings and several "resource" documents are compiled. Using this service has made collaborative work considerably easier in the network and has strongly contributed to the co-writing of contents. Some basic training was needed but no major issues arose regarding how to use it. The only technical glitch that occurred was that some files "temporarily disappeared" (they were moved by a group member to his own personal Google Drive file). Questions on this service are basically methodological. All members with access to this shared file could modify the file's contents...delete files, make changes to the minutes. Making all contents available to everyone completely de-centralised "power" and considerably changed the way in which certain structures had traditionally operated.
  • The CRIE network manages its press review using box.com. This on-line storage system allows each user to feed a file that is shared using a simple e-mail account. This file can then be integrated into a website quite easily. Each CRIE regularly puts content into the press review by sending an e-mail with the press article in an attachment. This press review is made available to the public using the websites of the different structures.
  • The community of users of the Parc des dominicaines in Tournai (Belgium) came up with a shared space to easily collect and display the photos taken on their website. To do this they used the service yogile. This on-line storing service allows creating and managing a photo-album collectively. Everyone can add to this album using a button to upload images automatically into the album or send them to a specific e-mail address. Adding to the album is open to everyone on purpose (you don't have to be a "member"). This was done to minimise barriers to using this service. There is only a control process (by several members) to verify the photos before they are published to avoid any unwanted content. As for the use given to the photos uploaded by members there are certain unsolved questions. Currently, photos remain the property of the user but the choice of the CC BY SA licence needs further clarification.
Other similar examples use other on-line storing services such as Dropbox or Copy.

Photo credits : King Cloud by Akakumo on Flickr - CC-BY-SA
Internet link : http://www.criemouscron.be
le 14.01.2014 à 12:23:50

Organising a cooperative meeting on citizen sciences

Card's author : Violette Roche - Tela Botanica
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies :

Organised on 22nd and 23rd October 2009 in Montpellier

The meeting on Citizen sciences & Biodiversity tool place on the 22nd and 23rd of October 2009 at the University of Montpellier 2. Associations, territorial groups, public and scientific institutions and people…totalling around 200 participants who met to exchange and pool their knowledge and practices on land during this first national meeting.
This event was given a participatory approach by using the potential of ICT tools and the Internet:

At the start

  • A wikini site was created from the start of the meeting project and was added to along the way.
  • A discussion list was opened and people could subscribe to it using the Wiki homepage. At the preparatory stage of the meeting around one hundred people had registered. The organising committee used this to prepare the workshops (opinions on the suggested topics, searching for speakers, technical matters to broadcast the event on video…).
  • A call for this event was launched through a form (Google Docs): anyone contributing a project on citizen sciences could present their initiative freely. It was therefore referenced automatically on a map of citizen science projects. Later on this collection was edited and published in a book of nearly fifty pages, a directory of citizen sciences.
  • Since the topics were identified and posted on-line on the wiki, under each of them there was space for comments that allowed internet users to give their opinions (for example, on the page of the workshop on ""Discussing the quality of volunteer data "").
  • Two spaces were also made available to participants so they could share their resources: a library to indicate bibliographic references and a video gallery.
  • A survey was distributed among volunteers working on these projects references on the map and the booklet; this allowed these key actors in citizen sciences to speak.

During the meeting

  • Live broadcasting was set up for the meeting using the free on-line system Justin TV, with a space for comments below (which also was helpful to solve any technical issues).
  • The list of participants was also made available on-line.
  • On the homepage there was a posting board that allowed placing one's name on a map (participants were given two badges for this) and to post posters and small adverts (I'm looking for, I suggest).
  • Breaks were also planned in advance: common meals at the University Canteen of the University of Montpellier 2 (tickets bore a QR code reading ""Miam-miam: an affectionate nod to augmented reality!), a coffee break with the association Artisans du Monde, a cocktail and a guided tour of the aquarium Marée Nostrum.

After the meeting

Overall impression made by Violette Roche, the chief organiser of the event from Tela Botanica

  • Not all tools were used due to a lack of facilitation (the posting board, comments on the site, the list after the meeting).

  • The booklet that was published and distributed after the event was very important: you need something concrete, something physical.
  • The meeting allowed citizen sciences to become known to people: a second meeting may be organised in Paris, the booklet may be re-edited by an association and resource platform projects are starting to emerge!
le 17.01.2014 à 17:15:41

Organising the communication of an event from a distance

Card's author : Corinne Lamarche - SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : I can explain an experience relating to distance working that surprised me for its efficiency. I was part of a small group in charge of communication at the 2013 Moustic Meetings that grouped 200 people.

How was it done?

At the start I only knew four of the eight people I met at the event. We had participated together in around fifteen distance meetings during five months, using Skype. I wasn't sure it would work at the start; Nevertheless, the result was excellent! I was really surprised at the ability we can have to work at distance from the moment we choose the right tools and people are ready to share and listen. Of course, the skills of one another all contributed, but this was not enough. Collaborative tools helped us a lot.

What we created

For this event, a wiki was created with sections for each of the commissions (Co-steering, programming, financing, communication). Exchanges flowed well thanks to posting a kind of spreadsheet on one page with several sections to it:
  • things to do (summarising the decisions taken at the end of the meetings), which I could refer to, to see what tasks I had to do and, those I didn't need to do and those that depended on available time. At the beginning, these tasks had been assigned to one or two people, but not exclusively; this allowed us to see the progression.
  • the days for the meetings agreed beforehand. At first, we discussed everyone's availability (working time) and holidays.
  • the link to take notes at the meetings; and an emergency pad if the host server crashed for any reason (this happened to us once).
  • the address of the discussion list so that people working in other commissions could communicate with this one.
  • reference documents (with a link to each Google doc or to a work tool). It is worthwhile listing the documents that are useful for the commission to make finding them easier than searching through emails. One and a half months before the meeting, many documents were created and an email was sent every time to provide the link to the documents. Sometimes the subject of the message was not clear and this posed some problems when it came to finding this information. So I decided to collect all the links and place them on this page describing the contents. It is also important not to create several spreadsheets but rather several tabs on the same spreadsheet
  • the minutes of the meetings. Five days before the meetings, I sent an email reminding the date and time of the meeting, a link to the pad containing all the information and meeting agenda asking if anyone wanted to add more points to the agenda; sometimes I also wrote down some questions and got answers back the same day. One week before the meeting, I would read the minutes of other sub-commissions and if there was anything that should be told the group I would write this down also. After the meeting, the facilitator or someone else would post the meeting minutes on the wiki page (with a format, hyperlinks, readable) and would send the link to the other members, (also so those who could not attend the meeting would be informed) and with a reminder for the next meeting
  • the list of participants with the names, surnames and roles of the participants in the sub-commission

What I think is important is to decide what tools will be used, for what purpose, and how beforehand; it is especially important not to change along the way, or being sure that everyone can master the tool.
le 14.01.2014 à 13:43:37

The moving discussion - practical case

Card's author : Gatien Bataille
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies :



The goal is to present a set of situations to participants and offer two working hypotheses relating to the situations presented. Participants will have to choose one of the hypotheses and argue their choice to convince others to join them.


  • 1. the facilitator presents a situation
  • 2. He/she suggests two hypotheses to the group relating to the situation he or she has presented
  • 3. He/she asks the group to choose one and move to their right if they choose one hypothesis and to move to their left if they chose the second hypothesis.
  • 4. each group must provide reasons for their choice to try an convince the other group to join them in their choice.
  • 5. When the groups have been "stabilised", the facilitator explains the next situation and the whole process starts again.

A facilitator of a moving discussion should

  • 1. write down 5 or 6 situations and two clear and opposing hypotheses for each of the situations for the group to choose from.
  • 2. introduce the situations as clearly and concisely as possible.
  • 3. ensure that the discussion doesn't turn into a squabble and allow that there is a balanced explanation of reasons.
  • 4. move on to the next situation once the groups have been "stabilised".

An example of a moving discussion during a training course

Situation 1
The councillor suggests creating a body of participation and consultation with the population in your town for environmental issues. The construction of a wind farm seems a good topic for him, plus it is a topic of today!
He comes up with a budget (not huge but sufficient) to create this participation body. You have several weeks to organise a first session (this leaves you time to organise it without too much of a hurry).

  • You agree to the idea without hesitation, a great idea! At last you will be able to create the participation body you had been dreaming of
  • You have some doubts as to whether it is a good idea and the right time to do it

Situation 2
After taking up the idea suggested by the local councillor, you announce the first participatory meeting wide and large. However, you are not that enthusiastic. Normally, around 10-15 people go to these meetings, 30 at the most…
You are nicely surprised when, on the evening of the meeting, you see more than 100 people arriving. You have to quickly go and find extra chairs, but there is room for everyone.
The meeting facilitator is a little overwhelmed.

  • You forget about going around the table, since there are far too many people there…We will decide how to collect the participant's information later on
  • You go around the table, "adapting" the round slightly because you don't want to eat up too much time from the agenda

Situation 3
Despite the number of people there and the exchanges, you manage to draft fairly complete minutes of the meeting. Then you distribute them to the people who left their contact information at the meeting.
Others who were not able to be at the meeting ask you for a copy of the minutes.

  • You send them a copy for their information
  • You send them a copy and invite them to make contributions and comments

Situation 4
After some sessions, the group becomes considerably smaller: at least a third of those who registered no longer reacts to the emails and does not go to the meetings. You try re-launching the meetings by email asking people to become involved but without much success.
  • After two more emails without reply, you decide to stop sending the minutes "for nothing" to those who have not replied to your last 5 emails
  • You say to yourself that there's no harm in sending it to all, and keep all of them on your mailing list

Situation 5
Facilitation takes time. Your local councillor is satisfied with your work but asks you to participate in a call to contributions to raise some money. This would be a nice contribution to the communal budget and would allow your post as the network facilitator to continue a little longer.
  • You find several funding possibilities here and there, some of which are in line with the network's dynamics. You start preparing all the required documentation…you need the money!
  • You fear changing the group's dynamic. You ask your local councillor for time to consider other funding options.

Situation 6
The network has gradually created a structure. With not much it has achieved quite a lot. These achievements make you proud and have contributed to making you visible in the region. But then all of a sudden you hear that some network members who are also members of other close networks are telling of your network's achievements.
  • You are not very pleased with this situation and decide to tackle the issue frankly at the next meeting
  • You are pleased with this and hope this exchange will also happen in the opposite sense

Situation 7
Your councillor is generous. He has decided to give you a grant for a communications tool that is ready to use and is ideal for managing the network. It has it all; it is the latest on the market! This will allow you to centralise your data and make the network more "professional".
  • Great, at last the tool is complete! This will considerably change the working habits and could bring those who are less technologically aware onboard. What a great step forwards for the organisation!
  • You thank the councillor for the grant. You promise to take a look at it all and to discuss it with the network to decide whether it is adopted (or not)
le 16.01.2014 à 17:17:50

The scaling down Cooptic in Belgium

Card's author : Gatien Bataille
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies :


In the framework of a Leonardo da Vinci "skill transfer" project called Coop-Tic (2011-1-FR1-LEO05-24397), the CRIE in Mouscron carried out a scaling down training session in its territory (Wallonia, Belgium) during the months of February and March 2013.
This training session had 5 distance modules and 2 residence meetings and was followed by 14 people from the fields of environmental education and nature management.

Support materials for this course can be found on this wiki: http://criemouscron.be/cooptic1

Training methodology

For this training course on scaling up we chose:
  • active participation of students, face-to-face and distance,
  • frequent and diversified use of technological tools,
  • making available and encouraging the production of multimedia documents,
  • interaction between peers,
  • opening the tool to outside resources and actors.

Adapting the initial training focus

Based on the initial training experience

With the initial training experience we thought it would be interesting to adapt it based on the following:
  • We did not intend to organise our training around the life stages of a network as in the initial training. The duration of our training course did not allow us to reproduce the life stages of a network seriously (not even in an "accelerated" version).
  • We only planned one distance module before the first meeting in order to create the group dynamics as early as possible (because the dynamics only really started when participants were face-to-face)
  • We did not intend to suggest "itinerant cards" for our trainees since the rate of completion at the end of the initial training was very low, despite having a "web" audience that was more inclined to write on the net.
  • We did not intend to work with a wiki for each trainee and preferred using a common wiki for the group where all resources and production were compiled.
  • At the initial training, the time lapse between meetings was quite large, meaning there was a considerable loss of participation. We preferred grouping face-to-face modules close in time to minimise this effect.
  • During the initial training, we were exposed to many ICT tools. This was not accompanied with sufficient time to become familiar with these tools and lead to a lot of frustration among trainees (lack of skills, not enough time or knowledge to test the tool "at home"). Therefore we decided to choose fewer ICT tools and provide more time face-to-face to allow trainees to become familiar with them. Our goal was to get them to use the ICT tools we considered essential in a totally independent way.
  • We planned some time to think about solutions together that would allow each trainee to talk about this training using simple words in their environment to promote the dissemination of the lessons learnt.

Based on the "Belgian" context

The profile of "Belgian" trainees

The target audience of our training were actors in the fields of environmental education or nature protection.
They can be described as having:
  • a high level of involvement in environmental problems
  • a high level of freedom in their actions (non-commercial sector) or, in the opposite sense, working in a very restrictive environment (employees in local or regional administrations)
  • a certain level of reticence towards ICT tools and the Internet
  • not much knowledge on ICT tools and the Internet
  • facilitating a network of people who are not very connected to the Internet.

Mapping the trainees

Our group included:
  • 2 people who worked on a river contract
  • 4 people working in the field of environmental education
  • 2 people working in the field of popular education (specifically regarding organic food)
  • 1 person working in the field of sustainable development
  • 3 people working for a communal nature plan
  • 1 person working in a local action group
  • 1 person working in the field of cryptozoology

Adaptations made

  • Since our audience was "close to the ground" and had little time (or in any case were little inclined to spending much time in a first stage on training in ICT tools), we adapted our training and made it shorter. This entailed two modules face-to-face with five distance modules.
  • We chose for a more advanced form of accompanying (re-launching, connected to Skype or reachable on the phone, advanced explanatory screencasts) this was because our trainees were not at all familiar with the web 2.0.
  • In general terms, we adapted the content of the activities with themes relating to the protection of nature or environmental education. (moving discussion, facilitation exercises for participatory meetings…)
  • For trainees who worked in environments that were not very "connected" we provided network facilitation tools "outside the web". This also allowed us to keep up a certain interest in the trainees that were not that "ICT friendly" and to answer their concerns regarding "off-line" network facilitation.
  • We generally spent more time on "common goods" and free licences. We thought it was appropriate to do this since:
    • it is the core of the "political" project that is underlying to this training
    • it is an important challenge that has a strong repercussion in the environmental context
    • it is important to be able to protect one's productions as common goods
  • While remaining open to the opportunities and suggestions-requests of our trainees, we "modulated" the learning times for a certain number of tools that we considered were basic and for which we wanted the trainees to be fully independent at the end of the training (co-writing and audio and videoconferences).

Content of the "Belgian" training course

At the start of the training/ distance learning between the 8th and 14th February
  • Module: Getting to know each other.

During the first 3-day face-to-face meeting from the 27th of February to the 1st of March
  • Day 1: The challenges of cooperation
    • Module: The 12 sides to cooperation
    • Module: The power of cooperation
    • Module: The invisible abundance
  • Day 2: Tips and tricks for network facilitation
    • Module: The barriers and facilitating elements to participate in a network
    • Module: Encouraging participation face-to-face and from a distance
    • Module: A network lives, grows and is assessed
  • Day 3: Some tools to get started
    • Module: Tools are never neutral
    • Module: What tools and for what purposes?

Distance / week of 4th to 8th March
  • Module: Individual tracking
  • Module: Project accelerator

Distance / week of 11th to 15th March
  • Module: Individual tracking (continuation)
  • Module: Project accelerator (continuation)

At the last 1-day meeting on 22nd March
  • Module: A world without common goods?
  • Module: Competition or cooperation: some tips to act
  • Module: Free licences and intellectual property

Distance / beginning of April
  • Time for collective synchronous distance assessment
  • Personal assessment

Distance / beginning of May
  • Distance exchange with the trainers / What have you done with what you've learnt?
  • Feedback to the groups of trainees

Impressions on the training

by the trainees

A survey was circulated at the end of the training that was answered by all trainees. Here are the overall impressions.

To summarise, participants expressed the following satisfactions:
the training had been well thought through: a combination of theory and practice
that trainers were available and created learning dynamics that were clearly appreciated
that the training allows building confidence towards the methods and ICT tools to facilitate a network and to get going right from the start of the training (a leg up for our projects)

To summarise, participants expressed the following frustrations:
not enough time to discover more about the ICT tools and practice with them!
not enough time to go deeper into some more theory aspect that require a big change in posture (so it is not simple and requires some time)

To summarise, participants expressed the following areas for improvement:

Plan more time to learn to use the ICT tools…take it a little further than simply discovering them
Plan more time for face-to-face meetings (even if it is difficult to fit into one's agenda)

To summarise, participants made the following other remarks:

Thank you, it was great!
This must continue

By the trainers

These are the main results of the assessments made by the trainers.

Even if we planned extra time to learn about the web tools we introduced, it seems this time was not sufficient
It seems necessary to have an even tighter framework for distance modules to really accompany "hesitant" trainees
It could be useful to organise "remote control"; that is controlling a trainee's computer remotely when there is a technical problem
Even if we did our best to avoid any technical glitches, some occurred anyway!
We expected this, but the scope of it surprised us: trainees were very keen on the underlying political and philosophical aspects in the training

Below is a graph describing the progress of the training, made with the tool Hy-Sup (Hy-sup is a European research programme on the characterisation of Hybrid tools for Higher Education)


Success factors

We consider the following factors contributed to the success of the training:

  • A highly available team of trainers
  • A clearly identified main trainer who was highly available on-site and remotely
  • Permanent contact between the group thanks to the discussion list with the training team members
  • A strong technical control over the tools used
  • Creating favourable conditions for collaboration during face-to-face meetings (during breaks, meals and during the evenings)
  • Organising the training in a way that allowed trainees to "skipping" some distance modules (this is often a weakness in terms of participation for this type of trainings)
  • A constant combination of technical work and moments for philosophical reflection
  • An alternation between times when trainees where "logged-on" and times "outside the web"

Comments for the future

Even if this topic was interesting for many people, it is not that clear how to transform this interest into a real wish to participate in a training course.
  • because of the broadness of the topic requires several days of face-to-face training and this can be an impediment for many people (;3 days of face-to-face meetings! Impossible, my agenda is overloaded")
  • because the topic was perceived as one "they already knew and more or less mastered" by many of the participants (why invest money in a training course on this topic?)
  • because the topic of the training was seen by some as something for "geeks" ("my network does not really use the web… these tools won't really help me")

However, at the end of the training, the trainees
  • would have liked the training to continue...
  • consider the face-to-face meeting were a real plus, essential to the group dynamics
  • mentioned they had learnt and discovered a lot on network facilitation (facilitating a network is not only organising a meeting every so often!)
  • appreciated discovering the theory hiding behind network facilitation and the "off-line" facilitation methods.
le 15.01.2014 à 11:09:21

Using Google Maps for collective purchasing

Card's author : Françoise Viala
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : This tool was created after a reflection process in the association Pic'assiette, on how to give visibility to citizen initiatives on group purchasing.

How it works

It is not the association creating the groups, but the association does invite citizens or producers to join their closest group, or even to create a new group. Citizens who do not know each other give their contact information and then Pic'assiette puts them in contact using their geographical location.
The idea was therefore to:
  • show something that already existed to a new audience and also to groups that already existed. Indeed, between Nimes and Montpellier there are several groups that don't know about each other. Each group has its own way of doing things, its own set of questions, but there is no exchanging.
  • create a link, exchanging between groups!
This really does work thanks to events that are organised independently, without the association Pic'assiette intervening.
Beyond creating a link, the aim is to reflect collectively on how to help diversify the output of producers and make it last without falling back on the same group of people the whole time.
Everyone is free to participate without need to register for references. The referencing part has mostly been done already by the association Pic'assiette, which took the time to meet and exchange with the groups close to Montpellier; then the groups met and managed their own meeting times, their agendas, etc…totally independently.
The tool was used as a model to create a reference map for citizen collective purchases in the region of Languedoc-Roussillon. (http://site-coop.net/gaclr/)
The main advantage of this type of maps is that it makes an initiative visible very quickly.

Some points to bear in mind:

  • They must be updated
  • People need to be trained
  • There must be facilitation. The tool is not sufficient in itself, it must be made known to people at stands, open doors.

What next?

The second stage is to reference the tools allowing to place an order, all the tasks and actions required for the group to continue in time. The association has participated in Moustic Gathering to make this whole process even more collective and collaborative.
le 15.01.2014 à 11:23:53

Using Google questionnaires at FNAMI LR

Card's author : FNAMI LR
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : The network of participating musicians is mainly facilitated by a small group around the chairwoman of the network.
Creating a questionnaire would allow testing the ideas generated in this small group with the rest of the network members to enrich them.
The first option (creating a questionnaire on paper, sending it, gathering the answers, processing them and making a summary of it all before distributing it to the group) was discarded: it took up too much time and required too many means.
To facilitate the work, a Google document was created.
The first step The association FNAMI-LR was created in 2003; does it meet our needs? Where are we heading? yielded almost 100 replies.

Training people to use Google questionnaires

A little more than one hour was needed for people new to this tool to learn to create a questionnaire; this training allowed the group to take charge of the tool fully and now it is used quite systematically. We noticed the results from having volunteers from the association using it in a professional framework.

Managing the questionnaire

The questionnaires were sent by e-mail and were also posted on the FNAMI site. This enabled the network members to answer the questions directly. Results were automatically added to a Google Document spreadsheet.

Analysing the outcomes

Google Document allows processing the answers automatically when possible (histograms, average values, pie charts…) by using the form function/add a summary of answers. There are several pages to process the data which made the analysis much easier.

Feedback with the results

The results were given back to the network members in a general assembly. They confirmed some analysis made by the steering committee, and at the same time allowed proving the needs collectively and in a shared way; they were especially useful to show several new issues considered as priorities by the group.
Some results were posted onto the website automatically using the option of creating widgets with the results in the form of charts, graphs or spreadsheets...
This procedure to automatically provide the results is positive in many ways: it reinforces participation (my answers are visible and used right away), it promotes participation (they can't see me so I must reply), it looks "flashy" and some people really like this ;-)
Internet link : http://fnami-lr.org
le 15.01.2014 à 11:17:26

Using lists in Tela Botanica

Card's author : Outils-réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : The Tela Botanica network was developed around discussion lists.

The first "tela-botanicae" was established in March 1999, when the network was created. It finds its support in the services offered by Yahoo Groups. It remains active today, with 1,092 members and 34,000 messages exchanged since its creation, with an average of 225 messages per month (figures from 8 March 2010).

Diversity of its members

The list combines specialists and amateurs, neophytes and people passionate for botanic sciences. A beginner asks a question and then dozens of specialists answer, sometimes in great depth. Admittedly, if they had met up with each other, the exchanges would probably never have been so dynamic (for the fear of being judged by others, the high level of discussions…).

Division into themed groups

As exchanges went on, themed discussions emerged, sometimes creating an overwhelming number of messages on the list. The network facilitator, who was monitoring the situation, immediately suggested creating a separate and specific discussion list. This is how more than fifty themed groups were created, leading to some intense cooperative work for some and to collective production.

Summarised lists

The advantage of dividing the network into themed groups is that you can subscribe to discussions that you are interested in, without becoming flooded with emails every day. The disadvantage is that you don't have a global view of what is going on in the group. To solve this issue, one of the network members encouraged the creation of discussion summaries: the person asking a question had to write a summary with all the answers received.
Three levels of summaries were defined based on the level of information feedback.
  • Level 1 - gathering messages. Returning all exchanges on a topic (the only process involved is to compile all the messaged in an order and clean-up the form).
  • Level 2 - gathering messages and shaping them. Intermediate summarising giving messages a certain shape.
  • Level 3 - summary. Enriched summary (adding elements and controlling references).
All this under a Creative Commons licence, of course!

Tools to facilitate and frame exchanges

The network also created tools to facilitate access to these lists for new members: animated user manuals (video tutorial) and a code of good conduct (Netiquette).
le 15.01.2014 à 10:58:35
de client.yota.ru

Working together without being together: the internal organisation in Outils-réseaux

Card's author : Outils-Réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : The team has the peculiarity that it is sometimes overwhelmed, since several of its 6 employees work there either occasionally or as their main job. Besides, they all work part-time. Therefore there is no unity in working times or spaces: so IT tools and ICTs partly solve the organisational and communication problems arising from this situation.

Document sharing and co-writing

  • An intranet, in the form of a YesWiki protected with a login and password constitutes the place where the necessary information for the team's life is centralised: minutes of the meetings, project descriptions, co-writing of documents, memos and procedure...they are all brought together here.
  • To co-write the minutes of meetings live, the Ietherpad system is used at a first stage, and it is then copied and pasted on the intranet. For contents with charts and diagrams we use Google Docs.
  • A Dropbox account for every team member provides them with a shared file so they have a work area with all the documents relating to the structure's management (administrative and accounting documents, project management…) Dropbox enables synchronising the update of these files (if one of the employees modifies a document saved on Dropbox on their computer, other employees whose computers are linked to Dropbox can also benefit from this update).

Communication: meeting, email and messaging

  • a team meeting is organised every Monday: some follow the meeting remotely (using Skype) and Etherpad. With these meetings they go over the projects, meetings…
  • an email account per person, using Thunderbird messaging service (with the POP system: messages are posted on everyone's space).
  • a mailing list for the Board and the team: each employee is registered as well as some Board members. This way, when one of them writes something, they all receive the message.
  • a distribution list for the team only.
  • a "home" account: it is checked by all employees (using Thunderbird with IMAP: this means all messages are on-line in the server): everyone has access to all messages received and sent and can send an email using this address.
  • using Phplist software to manage contacts and the distribution of emails: Phplist allows managing a database of email contacts and has an interface to configure mailing lists. The advantage of this is that people can de-register from these mailing lists themselves.
  • Skype is used by all to communicate from a distance (using a chat on a daily basis and, once a week, through a video-conference and sharing the desktop for the team meeting).


  • calendars allow everyone to follow the team's time uses: each has their own calendar (Phpicalendar or Google Calendar) on-line; there is one shared by all the team and everyone has a tool to update their own calendar (Sunbird or the Lightning extension of Thunderbird).

Shared tracking

  • Using the tag outils-reseaux.org on Delicious, tracking is done collectively and can be followed on an RSS feed

Internet link : http://outils-reseaux.org
le 15.01.2014 à 11:29:26

You may not know it, but you are helping to digitalise old books!

Card's author : Hélène Laxenaire - SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : Thanks to reCaptcha, a project created by the Carnegie-Mellon University, every time you screw up your eyes while trying to decipher a twisted text to validate an entry or post a comment, you are actually contributing to improve a programme to digitalise old books.

Going back to the start: what are captchas?

Captchas are deformed words that you are required to re-copy to validate and entry or for an action on the Internet. The principle behind captchas is finding an action that is easier for humans than for robots, so as to avoid the action you are doing to be done automatically (using robot-software). Especially to avoid millions of email accounts or Facebook accounts from being created automatically or to avoid a blog being flooded in comments to sell false Viagra. By re-copying the deformed text, you are proving that you are a human being (only from a biological point of view though!)

The issue of digitalising old books

Old books that are in the public domain could easily be made available to a larger audience on the Internet; however, to facilitate the search for these books, it becomes necessary to process a page scan (which is actually a photocopy) into digital text where searches can be made. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software is in charge of this, but very often this software has many problems with this type of books. To improve their recognition rate, optical character recognition software programmes need to "learn". This means that their results must be compared to the results obtained by humans to gradually increase the number of characters they are able to recognise. However, transcription by humans is a long and repetitive task.

What if we joined the tool to ... the tool?

Luis Van Ham is a professor at the Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh and he works on human computation, meaning programmes that combine the power of human thinking with the calculation speed of computers to solve problems that humans or computers alone cannot solve (OCR tools are a typical example). He developed the concept of objective games, whereby humans while playing, are actually carrying out useful operations. Even if it is not a game, the reCaptcha he developed follows this principle. Every time we decipher deformed words, taken from the digitalisation of old books, to prove to the internet site that you are a human being, you are actually contributing to the growth of the database used by OCR software and to improve their effectiveness in recognising digital characters in old books.

reCaptcha, how does it work?

Scans of old book pages are read by two different types of character recognition software. When a same word is read differently by these two software programmes, it is considered suspicious and is added to the reCaptcha database.
When you are asked to prove that you are human and not a machine using a reCaptcha, there are always two words, one is more deformed than the other. One of the two has already been identified as valid by OCR software (and this is the one used to verify that you are human) and the other one has not (this will be the word you help to identify). When a certain number of internet users identify a suspicious word in the same way it is then validated. It is then included into the database of validated reCaptcha words and into the database used by OCR software to recognise the characters in digitalised books. Today, the reCaptcha character recognition software has achieved a level of error similar to that of a human being.

Is this work positive?

Google purchased reCaptcha in 2009 and installed it on its pages asking for this type of validation. Given the power of Google, this has given a large visibility to the project and a larger number of participants. Google's main goal is to digitalise Google books and make it easier to refer to and search text in their pages. However, it would seem that Google has adapted reCaptcha to other projects; in this sense, some reCaptchas appeared containing street names from Google Street View.
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