Staff Photo: Bjorn Holmberg
CDA Collaborative Learning Project's approach:
1. Is a field-based and experience-driven approach to research (rather than theory or model-based approach).
2. Develops a context and a process in which organizations learn from and with each other more than they can learn from their own experience alone.
3. Through this collaborative research, it produces lessons, tools and approaches that are broadly applicable and transferable across contexts.
CDA works with agencies and organizations that are operational in the field to identify problematic issues of broad concern and to organize the time and space in which these agencies, together, can gather and analyze their experience and, from this, derive lessons for improving effectiveness.
The research process involves several stages.
- Multiple agencies in multiple locations gather their experience through case studies of actual field experience. Cases are written by individuals or teams who have broad experience in the field, often including local and international people working together.
When a number of case studies have been completed, people engaged in the collaboration come together to compare and analyze them. From these sessions of collective analysis, issues and themes that cross contexts and have broad relevance are identified. Preliminary lessons and ideas about how to understand the issues and address programming problems are arranged.
- Using the lessons derived/learned from the case studies and consultations, CDA organizes a series of "Feedback Workshops". Individuals and agencies active in the field come together to test the lessons against their own experiences and, by adding their analysis and ideas, to hone and improve the lessons learned.
CDA disseminates the resultant lessons, ideas and tools to encourage their use by people engaged in programming in the field. We publish handbooks and develop training workshops to help this dissemination.
- In addition, CDA works directly with operational agencies to help them adopt and adapt these lessons to apply them in their daily work, again adding to the learning and improving impacts.
The approach enables active international actors to learn from past experience and to improve work so that impacts are increasingly positive for the people in the societies where they work.
CDA itself does not maintain projects or programs in the field.