Effective Communication – A Peace Corps and PBwiki Case Study

14 Oct

Jason Samuelian is a Peace Corps volunteer in Lesotho who introduced wikis to volunteers throughout the nine current Southern Africa countries that have Peace Corps volunteers. You can check out his public wiki here. Here is Jason’s case study, in his own words.

So, why did you need a wiki?
You see what we are trying to do is build a space on the internet where the volunteers can share information and ideas on how to further the development projects in their countries. We are doing this outside the confines of Peace Corps Washington and therefore it is on our measly salaries to get this thing off and running.

How are you using your PBwiki?
We are using PBwiki to provide resources for Peace Corps volunteers in the Southern African region. Such as the sharing of project ideas, resources, recipes, weather, experiences we have faced, etc. The main purpose behind the wiki though is too make volunteers more successful in their service by giving the easy access to volunteer ideas and information that has already been field tested by their predecessors.

How has using a wiki changed the work you do for the Peace Corps?
The Peace Corps does give us a significant amount of initial training and they provide computers for us to work on throughout our service. The common practice though by most volunteers has been to make say a lesson plan or an outline of how to run a sports camp to raise awareness to HIV/AIDS.

However the two components have never been brought together. What we thought would be helpful was to make this information available to people before the even come to the country. This way we could get the new volunteers thinking about what they might want to try and give them ideas after they have gotten to their site and maybe been discouraged by a failed project or idea.

Read More

How did you communicate before you started your wiki?
Before the wiki we had no way of 1) sharing ideas, 2) storing them in an easy or searchable way, 3) communicating with other volunteer countries and 4) making this information accessible to volunteers who hadn’t arrived in country yet.

What we have done with the wiki is begin to collect the volunteer created resources and sort and group them so that volunteers can quickly and easily find what they are looking for.

So, is the wiki working out!?
Our first success story is how a volunteer from Madagascar was able to get on the wiki and post all kinds of amazing resources on ideas to try for business development, agricultural business and other wonderful ideas. This information now is consolidated in one place and can be quickly utilized by volunteers who have little internet time and need to make what they do have count.

Do people really use it? What problems are you running into?
We think all the volunteers in the Southern African region could one day use it. Our biggest problem that we are facing is lack of internet connectivity. We think that as infrastructure improves and volunteers awareness of the site increases that we will see a more daily use of the site.
The fragility of the internet connection does limit how we are able to use the site. Simple things like graphics or even lots of writing take a long time on our slow connection speed. However, what is great about the wiki is that after the information is uploaded (documents, pdf’s, etc.) it can be downloaded to a flash drive and looked at later.

We really want our PBWiki to be the hub of operations for the Southern Africa Region for volunteers.

How do you encourage wiki adoption in the Peace Corps?
We have led multiple training sessions on how to edit and the familiar “word” type format makes editing and adding information to the site very easy. People with basic internet skills are able to create pages in minutes and the format is very easy for them to follow. We have also made a nice little how to edit the wiki page (http://wikisarvn.pbworks.com/How-to-Edit-the-Wiki) that shows with simple to follow graphics, the 1,2,3’s of making page and editing the wiki.

Where are you at now with your wiki?
We are entering into the second phase of using the wiki. We have created the basic format and now we are just building user understanding and awareness. This January our team is doing a big presentation at our All Volunteer Conference and we are excited about that.

Do you have a great story about how you use your PBWiki? Share it with us and we will feature you in a case study. Check out other case studies here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: