Writeshops – Producing information materials through participatory writeshops
This site looks in detail at the advantages of “writeshops” for producing information materials. This technique was developed by the author and the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) in the Philippines, and is seen as an extremely flexible approach. Writeshops are especially useful because they speed up the production process and make it far more efficient.
The aim is to develop the materials, revise and put them into final form as quickly as possible, taking full advantage of the expertise of the participants taking part in the process (scientists, researchers, government personnel, teachers, NGO staff, extension agents and farmers). The diversity of skills, organisations and backgrounds of participants is key to ensuring that numerous ideas are represented in the materials produced.
Before the writeshop, a steering committee lists potential topics and invites resource persons to develop first drafts on each topic, using guidelines provided. These participants bring the drafts and various reference materials with them to the writeshop. Early in the writeshop, the participants brainstorm ideas for new topics (other than those already prepared) that should also be part of the publication, and these are assigned to knowledgeable participants.
During the writeshop itself, each participant presents his or her draft paper, using overhead transparencies of each page. Copies of each draft are also given to all other participants, who critique the draft and suggest changes. After the presentation, an editor helps the author revise and edit the draft. Each participant then presents his or her revised second draft to the group a second time.
Again, the audience critiques it and gives suggestions. After the presentation, the editor and artist again help revise it and develop a third draft. Towards the end of the writeshop, the third draft is made available to participants for final comments and revisions. The final version can be completed, printed and distributed soon after the writeshop.
The writeshop allows inputs from all participants to be incorporated. It allows ideas to be validated by a range of experts in the field. The concentration of resource persons, editors, artists and desktop-publishing resources at one time and place enables materials to be produced far more quickly than is typical for similar publications. And the sharing of experiences among participants develops networks that continue to be fruitful long after the writeshop itself.