In 2008, multi-stakeholder partnerships (business, government, civil society) in education around the world were failing, yet the consensus among practitioners was that they were very promising. My team at the World Economic Forum convened stakeholders from around the world for a multi-day workshop and they indicated that what they needed for success was a way to learn from each other’s experiences. Thus, the idea for a knowledge management platform was born.
Official Project Partners (Partnerships for Education)
World Economic Forum, UNESCO, AMD, Satyam, Microsoft, Cisco, Intel
The challenge was to build a useful platform with a website portal that could serve all the stakeholders in achieving their goals.
We created an Ethics Statement to guide our work on the project.
Identify each stakeholder
This included: Business, Government, and Civil Society as end users of the platform and Students, Teachers, and Administrators as beneficiaries of the projects
Map needs / desired outcomes of each stakeholder
Business – Gain entry to country markets, Positive PR, Social Impact
Government – Improved education system, Positive PR
Civil Society – Implement plans, ensure transparency and positive outcomes
Students – Skills training
Parents – Improvement in education outcomes
Teacher – Classroom improvements
Administrators – Better results for school
In sustainable development, it is very important to identify both failures and successes to improve outcomes going forward. However, not all companies and governments would be willing to acknowledge failures in any partnership they are a part of, particularly those that might be working with the World Economic Forum, as they would be at the highest levels of business and government.
We gathered people who could speak English and our global team communicated in English; however, to be useful globally, the platform would have to support multiple languages.
Design of web portal –The World Economic Forum had a very strict style manual and only their fonts, colors, and graphics could be used for the portal. The portal had to be migrated to the World Economic Forum system once it was built, with the support of the Forum’s IT team and the Satyam team.
The back-end platform was built as an in-kind donation from Satyam and the platform was to be made using Sharepoint. The Satyam technical team was in India.
There was no education expertise on our team.
Identify resources / global virtual team
Education - We created a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) comprised of experts in education around the world
Practitioners – The stakeholders we had convened
Technical – The Satyam team was comprised of experts in Sharepoint and could build the designs I created
Design – The Forum website design team could create the website in accordance with Forum requirements once it was designed
Platform fields – AMD had a large store of fields they had previously used for a database that they allowed us to use as a library
Project Managers – Held the knowledge about existing projects and what worked and what did not around the world, particularly with regard to working with local political leaders
Design of website
General information about Partnerships for Education, the benefits to each stakeholder, and relevant global news and events were open to the public, whereas the platform was password protected.
Because the perspective of each of the three stakeholders in multi-stakeholder partnerships is so different, I created three different home pages for each stakeholder, each accessed via labeled tabs. Each page allowed the stakeholders to enter their password to enter the portal. I wrote all the copy.
Design of platform
The platform was designed to be a multilingual platform and was first populated with cases in English
As two the sponsoring stakeholders were deemed to be interested in PR and not necessarily in advertising, though in the move towards success it was critical to have an understanding what previously went wrong, I identified conversations with the project managers as the most important lever for progress.
I identified the most important pieces of information to enter that would make the portal useful for practitioners and was careful to not include so many fields that it would become a burden for the project managers to upload information. The portal included information ranging from the project location to the number of beneficiaries to the project partners and monetary value of the project. Positive outcomes were also listed. All of this information helped practitioners in finding relevant projects and served as excellent PR for the partners. However, the critical piece of information for practitioners looking to enter a particular area was the contact information for the project manager. People can be honest one-on-one, with no written trail, so project managers were able to download the unvarnished truth and offer advice to anyone else who wanted to work in the area where they had worked.
Given that the ultimate beneficiaries were meant to be students, I incorporated my own expertise in sustainable development to ensure they were served well. I know that stakeholders often inflate or falsify their claims in terms of the positive impact they achieve. To provide checks and balances in this system, I created an entry path for parents, teachers, and administrators to comment on projects.
I presented the platform to an audience of world leaders in Davos in January 2008. The audience included the Director-General of UNESCO. This was also the official launch date.
The platform grew to 2700 users in 118 countries and was live for six years. During this time, the hosting also migrated to Cisco from the World Economic Forum and the design of the website was modified.
The platform is now inactive.
Partnerships for Education
USER DESIGN + RESEARCH
Synopsis: I designed the www.pfore.org (2008) website and global knowledge management portal to further multi-stakeholder partnerships in education around the world. Partnerships for Education (PforE) was a joint initiative of the World Economic Forum and UNESCO. The platform, which I presented to world leaders in Davos in 2008, grew to 2600 users in 118 countries. The platform featured different entry pages for three stakeholders: business, government, and civil society. The platform was designed for multiple languages and featured details on multistakeholder education projects around the world and contact information for the project managers so that new projects could benefit from the experiences of other practitioners. The portal struck a balance between providing enough relevant information and not burdening project managers with time-consuming inputting. It also allowed school administrators and parents to register and comment to prevent exaggeration of achievements. The website was live for six years and is now inactive.