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Turning the lessons of experience into better knowledge capital

The 'Experience Capitalisation for Continuous Learning' e-learning course will help organisations make the most of accumulated staff knowledge

April 19, 2017

As part of its knowledge management programme, CTA continues to be a major contributor to the Information Management Resource Kit (IMARK) series of courses which are currently hosted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) another member of the IMARK consortium. The latest collaborative e‑learning course, Experience Capitalisation for Continuous Learning, is aimed at helping organisations build a knowledge management methodology to draw lessons and to share them.

CTA was a key partner in the development of the course curriculum and is a leading proponent of experience capitalisation, which can have a major impact on the way agribusiness professionals and development organisations build a knowledge base for the future and for the use of others.

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Experience Capitalisation for Continuous Learning was launched in March this year and is aimed at a wide demographic of professionals across a variety of organisations. The course introduces the experience capitalisation methodology across 13 lessons grouped into five units.

Experience capitalisation is a systematic, iterative and participatory process through which a specific project, programme or overall experience is analysed and documented. It teaches professionals to reflect on their experiences and take the time to learn from them. From these reflections, lessons are identified, shared and used to improve future actions.

Experience capitalisation therefore creates knowledge derived from a learning process, which can be shared and used to generate change, as well as understanding of the processes that can lead success or failure.

It also helps in collecting evidence to support future efforts. Organisations can then respond more quickly and effectively to crises or unexpected changes and developments.

The resulting increase in efficiency and efficacy can help to reduce costs as well as time expenditure. And organisations can also benefit from an overall increase in operational strength and capacity, as well as better collaborative relationships among their stakeholders.

Practical tools for the development of better knowledge bases through experience capitalisation are offered throughout the course.

These tools help people to take the time to:

• Critically analyse experiences.
• Understand and learn through success and failure.
• Document and share this knowledge capital with others.

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With experience capitalisation, organisations can avoid having to recreate lost learning and can establish good practices for the future as well as achieve greater organisational visibility, credibility and impact.

Krishan Bheenick, CTA Senior Programme Coordinator, who has been involved in development of the course as an IMARK resource, states that the online course has been well structured and presented, making it easy to follow.

"The course is very complete. It shows how important experience is, and can be," he said. "It also highlights some of those aspects which we usually forget, or pay less attention to, such as the reflections on and use of the lessons which we draw upon with a capitalisation process."

CTA Associate Programme Coordinator Jorge Chavez-Tafur, who wrote much of the curriculum for the course, believes experience capitalisation will lead to a change in the way knowledge is sourced and retained within organisations: "Experience capitalisation is not just describing an experience, or preparing a nice document. Our interest is in having these lessons used, and thus having a wider impact."

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But he warns that the approach is most powerful when it becomes a mainstream process within organisations. "Experience capitalisation cannot be a one-time effort. Teams and organisations need to prepare the conditions so that it becomes institutionalised."

Jorge is glad to see that users all over the world are already following the methodology and benefiting from the course, currently being promoted through the CTA project "Capitalisation of experiences for greater impact".

And, he said, CTA is already helping to translate the coursework into French and Spanish so many more people will soon be able to make effective use of it and experience capitalisation may be applied in a truly global, systematic way.

CTA has published a wealth of information on experience capitalisation including information on how to adopt the process and work through the stages, as well as several useful case studies.

Other useful internet resources in English, French and Spanish can also be found on the CTA website on Knowledge Management for Agricultural and Rural Development (KM4ARD).

Find out more

• Download a flyer about the course
• Download a guide to FAO e-learning courses 
• Learn more about the ECBCheck quality criteria scheme for the design, development, delivery and evaluation of e-learning courses
• Find guidebooks on experience capitalisation

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