This is a blog post about the host center of the Institutional KS project– the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)– the host country Colombia and one historical example of activities around ICT4D that I would like to celebrate.

Knowledge Sharing has been part of a CIAT project called Inforcom (www.ciat.cgiar.org/inforcom), now closed. Inforcom focused on strengthening local capacity for innovation by better enabling rural communities and the R&D organizations that serve them to obtain, create, and share information and knowledge, with the aid of new ICTs. It started with a project on community telecenters “InforCauca”, which was a pioneer project. Its objective was to strengthen communities in marginalized areas in their capacity to appropriate new information and communication technologies (ICT) for their own development. Models had previously and successfully been tested in southwestern Colombia. The project’s goal was therefore to implement three community telecenters in this area.  Then other subsequent projects looked at further steps that can be taken so that groups and individuals in rural communities can derive greater benefits from ICT services. One such intervention is to strengthen the role and capacities of information intermediaries, which are another key component of local information networks.

CIAT is not anymore directly involved in the telecenter movement in Colombia, but more than ever is ongoing, with for example the most recent 4th national meeting of telecenters in Popayan, entitled “Strategic Strengthening of Community Knowledge Networks”. It is with great pleasure that the Institutional KS project and CIAT colleagues contributed with a very small seed to the event by orientating the organizers in the set up of a Knowledge Fair and an After Action Review to allow informal conversations and exchanges of multiple local experiences.

One key actor in the telecenter movement is the Colombian NGO Colnodo. Colnodo provides information on and access to Internet since 1993, with specific focus on issues like human resources, digital inclusion, gender and governance. It’s Action Applications were one of the first Web content development systems with Web 2.0 features I experienced. This was in 2002.

More on telecenters in Colombia (in Spanish) at: http://www.telecentros.org.co/

nancy-ciat.jpg The one-day workshop on Web-based collaboration was co-sponsored by the Institutional Knowledge Sharing Project and CIAT. The 32 Participants also contributed with a small inscription fee. It was a successful joined effort and we were lucky to be able to catch Nancy on her trip to Colombia where she will also work with the Ministry of Education.  After a chat-show introduction, the agenda followed with a Tag-game, a purpose checklist exercise, and a session on Web 2.0 tools. Participants felt that the workshop was useful to get basic knowledge on the available tools; they also appreciated the exercises on the 3-step process that Nancy recommends while planning on-line events: Check the purpose, plan the different activities, choose the appropriate tools! Finally, many participants would like to receive further training on specific tools, like wikis, and blogs.

The links and resources that Nancy used and that were discussed are available on the workshop wiki that Nancy set up for the participants: http://onlinefacilitation.wikispaces.com/Online+Collaboration+and+Communication+Workshop

 I love Nancy’s style and appreciate so much her knowledge on principles and methods of Web-based collaboration. This is definitively an area to explore with our CG colleagues around the globe.