Monday, July 21st, 2008

The blog post on July 15th 2008 by Nadia Manning-Thomas entitled ‘ICARDA KSinR project uses mobile phones for knowledge sharing’ has been picked up by various others who are interested in exploring, learning and promoting the value of mobile phones in research and development.

The blog post was referred to on SmartMobs blog–see post:

The IRRI Rice Knowledge Bank [RKB] is the central repository for all IRRI’s research-based rice science and rice farming knowledge that is relevant to the extension-farmer community. The IRRI RKB is also the model for similar RKBs in each partner country where the individual countries select, validate and modify rice farming knowledge for their extension/farmer communities. The strength of the RKB community depends on developing a shared vision for the RKBs, a sharing of knowledge and exchanging information about technical issues.

Recently the RKB has undergone a significant revision in its form and much effort is now being expended in updating the content. The new form for all content will be Joomla-based, an open source software platform that is inexpensive and easy for partner countries to use for modification of IRRI content. In addition, some new features are being considered in the form of ‘expert systems’ – the very popular Rice Doctor will be upgraded to link to other content within the RKB, and ‘expert systems’ for farm machinery purchase will be added.

This is an opportune time to gain in-depth advice from IRRI’s RKB constituency and to build an institutional understanding of the challenges in managing up to date knowledge for extension. This will also strengthen the longer term linkage between NAFRI and IRRI in the processes of knowledge management for rice and build stronger two way communication.

As part of its Knowledge Sharing in Research Pilot project, IRRI has invited and funded a 1 month on-the-job traineeship for a person from the Laos Ministry of Agriculture to work within the RKB technical team on re-structuring an adding extra features to the RKB.

Activities during this one month included:
(1) Review of the Joomla directions from the point of view of in-country partners and provide advice as to its suitability.
(2) Assisting in the conversion of electronic books and e-learning products to the new format and advise on their appropriateness.
(3) Creating a PowerPoint presentation showing a wide range of fact sheet formats.
(4) Creating a set of instructions for in-country partners regarding the conversion of IRRI content to local form and languages.
(5) Advising on how to address the issue of ‘facilitated learning’ conducted by in-country partners based on the IRRI e-learning courses.
(6) Assisting in the technical re-design of the Rice Doctor and the implantation of other ‘expert system’ modules.

In addition, the on-the-job-training activity will create a model of closer technical cooperation between IRRI RKB and its in-country partners which will be necessary in the move to greater exchange of knowledge between countries.

The person chosen for the on-the-job-training was Virachith. He has just completed his one month and we hope to share some of his experiences and lessons in future blog posts.

According to Noel Magor, Head of training at IRRI, “Virachith had a very productive time here and so I was more than happy that we had taken the steps to bring him here within the time of the KSinR Pilot project”.

In efforts to increase efficiency and innovation, the CGIAR decided to explore alternatives to our current email infrastructure through a Case study, starting with Google Applications.

The case study was launched formally on June 24, 2008 and currently there are more than 300 participants from 14 CGIAR Centers.

CGgMAIL Start page

CGgMAIL Start page

CGgMail is the CGIAR branded version of the services Google offers with Gmail. As we are a not-for-profit organization, CGgMail users do not see the advertisements that users of “free” Gmail accounts see when using the service. Plus, we have access to 24/7 support. Each user gets a mail account with 6861 megabytes of storage, which is increased a little every day. For many users that amount of space is enough for a lifetime of emails. Forget about having to delete from full inboxes.

CGgMail is not only email. CGgMAIL account participants have options for a number of other services, such as:
Google Calendar™ – users can schedule their events, create personal calendars, invite colleagues to events, set up meetings and even receive SMS notifications on their mobile phones.
Google Talk™ – supports built-in instant messaging on your mailbox, with a chat history that is searchable
Google Docs™ – allows users to create and collaborate on documents, presentations and spreadsheets in real-time with colleagues or partners worldwide.
Google Sites™ is an online application that makes creating a team Web site as easy as editing a document. You can quickly gather a variety of information in one place – including videos, calendars, presentations, attachments and text – and easily share it for viewing or editing with a small group, your entire organization or the world.
Google Start Page™ – offers the ability to create a personalized “Start” page that gives at-a-glance access to all these Google services in one page, including any key resources that may be useful. You can choose and organize content such as your latest Gmail messages, Chat, Calendar, facebook, wordpress, headlines from Google News and other top news sources, weather forecasts, bookmarks for quick access to your favorite sites from any computer, or your own sections with content you find from across the Web.

The case study is still ongoing until August 15, 2008 so more details of the outcomes of this study will come soon. For more information about the study, please contact: