Practice tip: Discussion Summaries

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A Discussion Summary on the Wiki provides a useful archival record of a discussion. It can have several distinct functions, whether a discussion is found to be important after the fact or when it’s a more formal and focused conversation where a lot of preparation has gone into it in advance.

Why a summary is so valuable

  • Sometimes people aren’t able to follow the conversation when it’s happening, so it’s very helpful to have an organized resource (with a summary, excluding separate email threads) for use afterward.
  • Since the wiki is completely open, people who are non-members of KM4Dev can read the discussion without having to join (especially if the archive on the summary page is created in close to real-time; if they have reactions they may know someone and submit their contributions through someone else).
  • Organize all the links to all the resources mentioned or offered during a discussion

Collecting, storing and sharing auxiliary materials (Images, attachments, and other resources)

  • Can be stored on the Ning Site
  • Use the and then link in the discussions
  • This can be done in advance (say if a series of case studies will be discussed)

Summary skills

  • The simple job of collecting email text involves cutting and pasting
  • At first the Wiki is not so easy to use but it’s worth the effort
  • You need an account on this Wiki
  • Writing a good summary of a discussion can range from just a list of topics or themes to a more elaborate synthesis: contribute what you can

Good practice -- especially for focused conversations

  • Advance planning of the discussion agenda
  • Pre-select documents and case studies
  • Recruit experts and moderators for each the agenda topics and clarify their role
  • Share the discussion agenda (schedule) in advance
  • Let everyone know it’s being archived (especially if it will happen in real time)
  • Include a link to the discussion summary on the Wiki in various postings
  • Add messages to the Wiki Summary as they come in (so none are lost and so it’s not a big chore at the end)
  • Add the links to the case studies as they come in
  • Pay attention to the message at the bottom of the summary page on the wiki that says “this page has been accessed X times.” * That is an indicator of the level of participation outside of the Dgroup.