The Capacity Exchange initiative - cXc
CONTEXT: Wikimedia movement that formed in past 20 years around Wikipedia (with all its language communities), its sister projects (like Wiktionary or Wikidata), related technologies (like MediaWiki software), entities (like Wikimedia Foundation and affiliates), partnerships (like UN and other organizations) has been developing its 2030 Movement Strategy. One of the many efforts to reach some of its goals is this one focused on supporting bottom-up and self-organized development of capacities from the smallest and most important unit of movement — individual Wikimedian sharing with other Wikimedian.
The Capacity Exchange (working title), also styled short as cXc, will be a pilot of a platform to facilitate peer-to-peer capacity building and knowledge-skills-services sharing. It is initially focused on Europe with plans to include international partners.
It is a project that was started after a pitch at a Wikimedia European Affiliates meeting. Since May 2021, a working group has been meeting on a weekly basis to move the project further.
Project short URL: https://w.wiki/_zb3J
The project directly addresses two of the changes and actions from the movement strategy Recommendation 6 - Invest in skills and leadership development:
- Establish a methodology that maps assets and needs and generates aggregated data for deploying skills development initiatives based on real needs.
- Establish a service that facilitates connecting/matching peers across the Movement for teaching and learning skills (e.g. peer-learning, networking, and pooling of information from partners and allies).
- Why don't you do this on meta?
- We have heard from many during the strategy process and after that meta is hard to search, hard to find good information, and even harder to use as a tool to connect people face to face.
- Will this also be the knowledge base?
- No, for now we just foresee this to be connecting people (groups and affiliates), based on the skills and resources they enter into their profiles. The platform of learning resources is an important separate action in Recommendation 6. It should be added on later or be a separate initiative.
- How will this be coordinated with past, existing and future capacity building efforts?
- Past efforts have largely been limited to training and have failed to unleash the potential of peer support. Nevertheless, training and learning formats and resources can be continuously accessed and developed. In fact, we foresee that the data on the platform will serve as a real time map of assets and needs and will help movement entities to then create targeted capacity building interventions such as online courses, peer support groups and learning materials, based on actual needs of Wikimedians.
The Capacity Exchange will
- be an easy way to ask for and offer help around any issue
- aggregate data on Wikimedia volunteer and staff needs and priorities
- enable us to surface and utilize mutually beneficial assets as well as address gaps
- provide quick benefits and easy to reach wins
- support diversity, solidarity and analytical skills
- grow and distribute the movement's capacities
Assumptions and principles
- Learning is always a 2-way street.
- We start in Europe, but we keep the global community in mind.
- We are conscious of and apply the Movement Strategy principle of contextualization.
- The knowledge and skills needed are mostly available among us, and we need to find ways to match needs with assets.
- We design this with a focus on emerging and marginalized communities, and on small affiliates or affiliates to-be.
- There are many methods for building capacity: coaching, mentoring, tutoring, internships, technical and financial assistance, group learning, communities of practice, training.
- Working with what we already have will be easy, cheap, and practical, while furthering solidarity, efficiency, and resilience.
- Once we have a better understanding of capacity needs and desires, we can figure out group/cohort activities or even more systemic approaches to meet them.
Plan and status (October/November 2021)
We will start small, and we will learn and iterate. We have created a structure and categories for the platform. As of December 2021 we are in the process of adjusting an existing open source software package currently utilized by OER World Map. This will create a first demo of a platform that a small group of interested future users can test and provide feedback on. With this information, we can then decide which software to use for the real thing and build or adapt a better version.
We have also received a rapid grant from the Wikimedia Foundation to work on project documents, connecting to different partners and ensuring language translations for minority languages.
A longer-term implementation plan will be drafted over the winter break and shared here.
We have identified several areas of interest and content which we want to focus on. We have also decided that we want to run a pilot using the open source OERworldmap software. However it is proving to be hard to find a developer that can install and support this software (because it is mostly Java). We hope to find a developer capable of doing this in the coming weeks.
Members of the working group
(Name, Affiliation, Areas of interest in this context)
- Nicola Zeuner, Wikimedia Deutschland
- Jan-Bart de Vreede, Wikimedia Nederland, Peer learning among individuals and/or affiliates
- Mel Ganus, WikiBlind, Needs and resource analysis, research, outreach, inclusivity
- Z. Blace, Wikimedia LGBT+ and exPatYUGOdiasporas, Outreach and education, with underserved/emerging communities and individuals
- Rebecca O'Neill, Wikimedia Community Ireland, Small and minority group capacity building and sharing, research