We are spending lots of time these days talking to confirmed participants for the first-ever Bridging Session. On a simple level, we are trying to design a rich and interactive learning event that increases the ability of transparency NGOs to use technology to magnify their impact. But on a larger scale, we are trying to establish a collaborative ethos of trust and friendship that will sustain long after the event and help to power a network of distributed mentoring and learning for years to come.
In the near term, we’re just trying to build an agenda that matches needs to knowledge. We are asking each participating NGO how they are currently using technology, and in turn what they want to focus on at the event, both in terms of skills and strategy. We are asking our invited technology practitioners what kinds of tech-powered outcomes they want to help others get to, and how they want to apply their passion both at and after the session.
The agenda itself will follow a three-day arc that puts primary emphasis on small-group collaboration and strengthening of connections in this emerging network.
We’ll start Day 1 with some interactive plenary fun, inviting participants to weigh in with their thoughts on the role of technology in transparency and accountability work. Our goal will be to build an understanding of who is in the room and how they consider the issues at hand.
From there participants will break into smaller groups to discuss some of the framing topics of the event and contextualize the learning to come. And then we’ll really dive in, spending the first afternoon and all of day 2 deep-diving on learning and building.
Participants will work 1-on-1 and in very small teams to address specific needs each NGO wants to address. Sessions will be structured to start from desired outcomes, and work from there to map strategy for achieving the same and in turn identify the technology tools and skills need to support plans.
Sessions will alternate between hands-on work and more topical sessions where larger concepts are addressed and experiences compared. Our hope is to balance strategic skill and knowledge gain with an understanding of what it takes to integrate new technology into organizations and processes, and sustain those new practices over time.
Day 3 will serve as both end and beginning. We’ll use the morning to tie off remaining learning needs and address outstanding questions and curiosities. In the afternoon, we’ll consider “where from here”, identifying action items for follow-up collaboration, deployment and other next steps.
Through it all, we will stay focused on using technology in replicable ways to support the work of organizations doing essential work. We welcome your thoughts and input on how to achieve the same!