Tuesday, April 28th, 2009


After a successful pilot online event (See blog posts about the event), the CGIAR, through its ICT-KM Program, is pleased to offer an online Social Media Workshop from May 25 to June 12 2009.

screenshot-moodle

“Social media is using the Internet to instantly collaborate, share information, and have a conversation about ideas, and causes we care about, powered by web based tools.” – [We Media] Social media offers a move from “push” communications towards a place where we can interact with our constituents and engage with them in ways we never could before. It enables us to network with colleagues and some stakeholders.

Objective of the workshop: Introduce researchers, communications professionals and knowledge sharing practitioners to social media tools and support their social media strategy development. As a participant, you will:

  • Obtain an understanding and appreciation of the role and value of social media.
  • Learn how to apply social media concepts and tools to both gather information and increase the dissemination of your information.
  • Learn how to apply social media concepts and tools for collaboration and interaction with your organization’s staff and partners.
  • Learn from participants of mixed professional and organizational backgrounds.

Outline of the 3-week event

  • Week 1 – Introductions, conversations and assessment of your communications needs and goals.
  • Week 2 – Social Media Tools (wikis, blogs, twitter, file and photo sharing, and many more). You can join the exploration of a range of tools or start a new discussion on tools of your own choice.
  • Week 3 – Social Media Tools and strategies. How these tools can help you to achieve your knowledge sharing goals. Develop your strategy.

Number of participants: minimum 22,maximum 30

Language: English

Dedicated time: A minimum of one hour per day, asynchronous (you decide when you go online), as well as two telephone conversations, one during Week 1 and the other during Week 3. Optional synchronous calls or chats may be offered if there is an interest.

Open to: CGIAR staff, partners, agricultural and development organizations

Platform: Moodle, Skype and/or telephone. If you choose to use a landline, you will be responsible for long-distance costs. You should have regular access to the Internet. Some tools may not be accessible for those with low bandwidths. You may need to check with your IT department, as some web-based services you wish to explore may be currently blocked in your organization and you may need to seek support to access them.

Facilitators: Nancy White (Full Circle Associates), Simone Staiger-Rivas (CGIAR-CIAT), Meena Arivananthan (CGIAR-WorldFish)

Cost: USD 500

Please write to Simone Staiger-Rivas (s.staiger@cgiar.org) for questions and subscription by May, 15 latest.

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Using satellite imagery for counting crop acreage

A conversation with Lieven Claessens, of the International Potato Center

Sweet Potato

Sweet Potato

Let’s say you have a wonder food—or anyway, a crop you’re promoting or tracking. Other than a laborious foot trek, how do you know how much of it people are really planting in a region–especially if farmers grow a complex mosaic of crops?

Yes, district officers estimate acreage devoted to various items. But how good are those estimations?

CIP, the International Potato Centre, promotes sweet potato for its high Vitamin A content and other nutrients. CIP wanted to know how much sweet potato was being planted by farmers in eastern Uganda.

So they developed a way to use satellite imagery to peer closely into fields. Until recently, most thought it wouldn’t be possible to differentiate food crops in a complex farming system. But for this project researchers tuned the satellite cameras to pick up not what the human eye would see–a tangle of green—but wavelengths we can’t see, mostly “infrared.”

Satellite images of infrared are similar the infrared film you (or more likely your parents) may have experimented with in the ’60s or ’70s– trees and grass came out in reds and violets.

Each species reflects its own “signature” colour. Using a hand-held sensor, researchers figure out what that colour is, for, say, sweet potato, as well as crops planted next to or near it, so they can differentiate them. Then they check for those colours in the satellite images.

The result? According to CIP researcher Lieven Claessens,“We discovered that only 63 percent of sweet potatoes in the field showed up in the national statistics. In other words, sweet potatoes were undercounted by nearly 40 percent.”

Improving the accuracy of counting by such a large percentage could be a boon to agriculture researchers worldwide. One more win for “the eye in the sky.”