Design Your Capacity Building

Know Your Participants and Users

Capacity building efforts should not be organised, implemented or developed in isolation.

For those efforts that are aimed at skills or knowledge building in particular, before you start drafting your training agenda or writing your guide, it’s critical that you:

  • have a clear idea of your participants’ or audience needs
  • know what skills they say are important for them to learn
  • know the most effective ways for them to learn.

This information can be gathered by sending out a pre-training survey, doing interviews, or having focus group discussions with community members. Many of the ideas in the Research and Planning section may be useful.

Remember to keep sensitive, confidential or private information off all social media and insecure platforms while gathering information about participants and users. Consider using Signal or ProtonMail, or other similarly secure platforms to communicate.

As Cheekay Cinco, previously of EngageMedia states, “What’s important to note is the function of the pre-training survey: it’s to get to know your participants, their needs, their skill levels and what their expectations are before you begin the training.” Here’s an online example of a pre-training survey used by EngageMedia during the organisation of a Video Camp.

To grow networks and deepen collaboration, you should be open and available to participants. In these cases, capacity building isn’t simply a question of giving people a set of tools but rather one of personal, peer-to-peer exchange. Think about how you will build in time for simply talking, exchanging stories or introducing each other to your lives and groups of colleagues.

Prepare the Video for Change Trainer

Trainers need to make spaces for participation and interaction among participants. Being an expert in filmmaking or video distribution isn’t enough. A trainer must first and foremost be a facilitator that can bring activities that encourage interaction and participation, and therefore learning.

Furthermore, trainers must be conscious of security, know the contexts in which their participants will be working, and have ways in which risk can be mitigated if needed.

Ensure you Have an Effective Learning Activity

Video for Change capacity-building efforts should take into account the contexts of the participants in designing the agenda and the training methodologies. If appropriate, co-designing and developing an agenda together with participants is an effective way to develop ownership. For example, at the inaugural COCONET Digital Rights camp in 2018, EngageMedia and a Regional Consortium of organisations co-designed the camp program and developed the agenda with the help of the participants.

To do this, the camp organisers sent potential participants a camp application asking about the skills and knowledge they wanted to share or learn, and the workshops they could host. Then, on the first day they used an open space format to set the agenda on the first day. This unleashed a wave of creativity and excitement as participants clustered to develop ideas for sessions and create new spaces and collaborations.

Building Interactivity into your Learning Activities

Participants who are engaged learn better. Interaction increases engagement both with the facilitator and between participants. Lectures and Powerpoint presentations may work in some contexts, but these are generally not the most effective way to encourage participation and garner engagement. One technique is to use games or add competitive elements to make trainings livelier. This active approach lets participants experience something and gives them the opportunity to reflect on it.

Here are three examples of icebreakers you can use at the start of a training. They encourage storytelling, create a lively atmosphere and help participants open up.

  • Two Truths and a Lie — All the participants are asked to tell the others two true things and one lie about themselves. The rest of the participants will try to guess which one is which. This encourages participants to start talking about themselves, which may be useful in the context of video trainings where the goal is to do videos about themselves.
  • Reactions — The facilitator writes down extreme situations on several pieces of paper and hands out a piece of paper to each participant. Then each participant acts out how they would react in their given situation, then tells the rest what their situation was. This could lead to a discussion about how people react to different situations.
  • Blanket Game — A favourite Video4Change Network opening game, which is quite theatrical.

Evaluate Your Capacity Building

Visit the Evaluation page to measure your research and planning.