The Water Framework Directive requires Public Participation in River Basin Management (RBM), including previously excluded constituencies besides water experts and policy makers. In this context, the HarmoniCOP project studies ways to improve PP based on the concept of Social Learning (SL). SL refers to the growing capacity of a social network to develop and perform collective actions. Complex issues such as RBM can be better resolved taking into account the diversity of interests and mental frames, and relying on disseminated information and knowledge. Information and Communication tools (IC-tools) can thereby play an important role. In this paper we firstly present our main concepts in relation to SL and PP. Then we propose a provisional qualitative characterisation of the role of IC-tools. Thirdly, we present a framework of analysis to explore IC-tool impact on participatory and SL processes. This framework is used to assess the IC-tools from three perspectives: their technical characteristics, their impact on PP and SL and their usability as perceived by the users. In the fourth part we present a first application of the framework of analysis for two case studies in Flanders and in Dordogne (France). Finally, we discuss some expected future outcomes of the project.