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DFID Research: Online forums for health and development

Free online event looking at the use of email discussion forums in health and development - open for registration now

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Picture: Junior Melo/ Wikimedia
Picture: Junior Melo/ Wikimedia

The latest event from the Dgroup Online Peer Exchange Session is due to take place on the 15th July from 1600 CEST.

Knowledge management strategies in global development are increasingly dependent on digital technologies. By creating, or nurturing existing, online communities, organisations are able to use these online forums to bridge gaps in knowledge transfer. However, as with all digital technologies, benefits are still being discovered and organisations continue to explore new and innovative ways of using these forums in development.

Dgroups (Development through Dialogue) is an online platform designed to foster online communities around specific topics in international development. Launched in 2002 the initiative began as a project of Bellanet and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in collaboration with the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Institute for Connectivity in the Americas (ICA), the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD), OneWorld, the [Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS] (UNAIDS) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). In 2009, the Dgroups Foundation was established in the Netherlands as a non-profit foundation and it now hosts over 2000 communities with over 195,000 registered users.

The Dgroup Online Peer Exchange Session is a series of events designed to help strengthen peer to peer learning within these communities. Looking at how specific organisations engage with Dgroups the series gives users an insight into how these forums can be utilised as part of a larger digital ecosystem. Previous sessions included perspectives from initiatives such as the Rural Water Supply Network and the [Food for the Cities] network run by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

The third event in this series will take place on the 15th July from 1600 to 1730 CEST.

Looking at email discussion forums for health and development professionals, the event will involve presentations from 2 experts in the field of knowledge management and peer exchange in the health sector.

Angela Nash Mercado is the Senior Content Manager for the Knowledge for Health Project (K4Health). K4Health works to improve access to and sharing of global, regional, and country-specific public health knowledge, particularly about family planning and reproductive health.

In her role at K4Health, Angela Nash-Mercado manages distance learning initiatives and online communities of practice. She has more than 12 years of experience managing global public health and development programs with a particular focus on knowledge management and information sharing. She will present on how the Knowledge Gateway (which uses the same underlying software as Dgroups) connects people working in health and development through email discussion forums.

The second presenter will be Neil Pakenham Walsh, Coordinator of HIFA2015 (Healthcare Information For All by 2015) and Co-Director of the Global Healthcare Information Network. The HIFA campaign was launched in Mombasa, Kenya in October 2006, at the 10th Congress of the Association for Health Information and Libraries in Africa and now has more than 10,000 members from more than 2000 organisations in 167 countries.

Neil Pakenham Walsh will provide insights on how Dgroups is used by HIFA2015 to promote the availability and use of essential healthcare information in low- and middle-income countries.

This is an open session for all with an interest in virtual communities and networks for heath and development, to discuss how to support communications, knowledge sharing and learning. A facilitated Q&A will follow to allow participants to compare notes and foster peer learning. To participate in the event please register on this Eventbrite page.

Published 9 July 2013