Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate as guest speaker to the first training session about Wikis at FAO and it was an enriching experience!

The 2-hour session was moderated by Gauri Salokhe and Romolo Tassone, both from the Web Knowledge Exchange and Capacity Building Division at FAO.

These sessions at FAO are part of an ongoing series of workshops on the methods, tools and services that can facilitate knowledge sharing.  These trainings are offered weekly by the Knowledge Exchange and Capacity Building Division (KCE), in collaboration with Staff Development Branch (AFHT).

The session was fully booked and it was interesting to see how more and more people that couldn’t register were arriving to see if, just by chance, they could get a seat to participate in the session. This shows there are a lot people interested in learning more about collaborative tools and how these can be applied to their work at FAO.

Initially the moderators introduced Wikis by showing one of the world’s most popular Wiki: Wikipedia. Actually at FAO, they have implemented MediaWiki, the software behind Wikipedia as their internal Wiki, but they also offer other Wiki tools depending on the users’ requirements.

Together with Gauri, we showed the example of the Knowledge Sharing toolkit (KS Toolkit), a collaborative wiki site using Wikispaces that assembles knowledge sharing tools and methods resources. The KS Tookit is an initiative of the ICT-KM’s Institutional Knowledge Sharing project and in collaboration with FAO and the KM4Dev community, it currently has approximately 120 people that contribute to keep this global public good growing.

I had the opportunity to show the Wikis we have implemented recently in the CGIAR. As part of the CGXchange project, we are currently offering Google Sites which is a Wiki that users can easily setup themselves and start collaborating quickly. Some of these Wikis are public or private. The private Wikis in the CGIAR are mostly being used for project/team collaboration and meeting sites. The public Wikis are shared with the world for viewing and only a few people with editing rights can maintain the content: (site that gathers tutorials and trainings of the collaboration tools available for the CGIAR staff) (the strategic framework of the new CGIAR is being shared through this public Wiki)

We also discussed about the Wikis that ‘die‘ because of the fact that people do not contribute. Of course…Wikis are just like any website, they need a moderator or at least a group people that are committed in keeping the content updated and encouraging others to contribute so they can be useful.

Towards the end of the session the participants had the opportunity to edit a Wiki that had been setup for the training using a free Wikispaces guest account. The participants had a lot of fun adding content, links, inserting videos and deleting what others had written!…thank goodness that Wikis have version history and you can easily go back and retrieve older versions! 🙂

You can find a summary of all the links to the Web pages that were viewed during the training session on this Delicious page:

I would like to thank Gauri and Romolo for the invitation to participate as guest speaker for this session. I believe we learned a lot from each other and hope we continue partnering in these knowledge sharing sessions in the near future. 

I believe that we, in the ICT-KM program, are doing a lot of research about social media tools and have vast experience on these topics. Given the CGIAR’s dispersed locations, currently our main method to communicate our knowledge is using our blog, which is great, but many people still prefer hands-on training sessions than reading. In this respect, my take home message is that we should learn from our FAO colleagues and start organizing on-site or online training sessions as well, every now and then, to share our knowledge on social media tools for our colleagues in the CGIAR…

An extensive training programme is offered to all participants in the ShareFair. At the Fair you will have an opportunity to learn not only about Knowledge Sharing Methods but also about tools.

Firefox Web Browser and its Plug-ins
Social Bookmarking
Video Sharing
Blogging and Micro-blogging
Technical Tools for Social Networking
Google Apps
Web Meeting Tools

Check out the training program

And the Full Programme for detailed schedules.

Ever used our Knowledge Sharing Toolkit?

In response to an increasing demand for training in urban agriculture, Ryerson University’s Centre for Studies in Food Security and The Chang School are developing a portfolio of distance education courses on urban agriculture in partnership with ETC-Urban Agriculture and the international network of Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food security (RUAF). See the flyer for more details on the courses.

Training and awareness videos that have been developed and used through the support of the IWMI Wastewater KSinR Pilot project to outreach messages on good practices of wastewater use coming out of research projects to caterers, farmers and extension agents are to become resources for these Urban Agriculture courses.

Information on the videos can be found at on the IWMI Wastewater training and awareness videos page.

With the distance learning course targeting people from various organizations and areas of work, around the world, the videos will serve as a useful resource for information and recommendations derived from a set of research projects which have been working on the topic of wastewater in urban agriculture in West Africa.

The videos, initially designed to help achieve knowledge sharing with caterers, farmers and extension agents, will now achieve even more knowledge sharing with the various ‘students’ of the distance learning courses” highlighted Dr. Pay Drechsel, IWMI Theme Leader and Researcher on Wastewater.

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 sub-Saharan Africa, where wastewater treatment does not keep pace with city growth, the use of polluted water in irrigated vegetable production is very common. This puts urban dwellers at risk as these vegetables are part of the urban fast food. An number of entry points for health risk reduction are important, including safer irrigation practices as well as food safety and hygiene.

As part of their knowledge sharing efforts to improve collaboration and delivery of research results, the IWMI Wastewater KSinR Pilot project has supported a number of Wastewater projects run by IWMI and supported by CPWF in West Africa to develop a number of videos to help spread messages coming out of the research. These include:

1. “Improving Food Safety in Africa-where vegetables are irrigated with polluted water.

This is an awareness and training video for staff of street restaurants.

This video tries to convey 8 basic rules for the food catering sector as identified in two projects carried out by IWMI through funding and support of the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food. These give special attention to contaminated vegetables in the general frame of food safety.

To keep the messages as realistic as possible the video applied the concept of ‘participatory video making’ in close collaboration with the street food catering services sector in Ghana.

This video is in English with French subtitles available.

Handouts with main messages in English and French are available and are to be given out to the audience to whom the video is being shown.

2. “Good farming practices to reduce vegetable contamination. Options test in wastewater-irrigated farms in Ghana”

This is an awareness and training video for extension officers and farmers.

An important entry point for health risk reduction is the farm where safer farming and irrigation practices can reduce the initial crop contamination levels significantly.

This video tries to convey 10 options for farmers as identified and tested in a project of the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF), lead by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

This video is in English with French subtitles available.

These videos have been used a number of training and other workshops.