Monday, May 17, 2004

Ethnographic Action Research: A user's handbook developed to innovate and research ICT applications for poverty eradication

This is a very interesting approach and one that seems to be gaining momemtun and credibility among some development agencies. There is, in some places, a move away from traditional evaluation approaches and towards a learning approach to project and program evaluation that makes the most of qualitative methods.

Reading notes:
------ By observing our actions we can generate knowledge and learn from our experiences --- informed reflection.... That's quite obvious to me at the individual level, but more difficult to realize at the organizational level.

------ Need to integrate research into the project's continuous cycle of planning and acting ---- yes, but the word "research" will scare off a lot of people, why not call it "systematic learning" or action learning.

------ Develop a research culture through which knowledge and reflection are constantly fed back in ways that help projects develop ----

------ Idea: connect with academia (ph.d students) who would have the time and interest in doing field research.... even better, connect with academia in the country where the projects are being implemented.

------ Question: How costly is all this? Ethnographic action research is very time consuming. It doesn't fit well with short project cycle frameworks that are being used by most development agencies.

------ Question: How do you integrate action research/action learning into an organization's work without making it a large project? Is it possible to start small and grow based on positive experience and evidence of benefits? How do you successfully bring in an action learning approach into an organization that is heavily influenced by pressures to document "successes"? How do you help an organization transition from evaluation to learning? How to you go beyond paying lip service to "lessons learned". There is a tendency to document "lessons learned" but very little evidence that lessons have been truly learned.