Thursday, 26 July 2012

IMARK- Web 2.0 and Social Media Development

The IMARK is a self-learning and resourceful information kit which gives an insight of the wide range of web 2.0 tools that empower users to create, share and collaborate online in a more effective and productive way. The information provided in the kit is very useful for a beginner to better understand the key concepts and principles behind the web 2.0 tools and its potential applications using a systematic approach for disseminating information. 

As mentioned in the IMARK CD, Web 2.0 is primarily social. The interesting thing about social media is that it is not just a one way communication. Collaborative exchange and discussions take place on a common and larger platform geographically and allows access to a massive and international audience. Its strategic features allow a network to act as a potential resource for ideas, collection and opportunities.

The idea behind using social media tools for development is to support interaction at different levels in terms of communication, conferencing and collaboration. Tools such as wikis or blogs have clearly demonstrated their potential for creation, publishing, co-documentation, translation and co-distribution of information online while the increasing use of other tools like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube is revolutionised by its flexibility, openness and transparency. Applications like VoIP takes users to another level of interaction allowing access to low cost calls over the internet. In the same line, Skype offers the possibility of quality voice and video conversations depending on internet connectivity. In general, these tools are simple and easy to use provided you understand the rationale behind its perspectives and the desired purposes. On several occasions, I have learnt to ‘ask why’ and then want ‘to learn more’ about the social media tools.  

It is worth to point out that now the world is at our fingertips. The latest trends in technology and the increasing popularity of the social media networking may prompt the creation of new services and features in the near future. Many websites are now adapting their tools for mobile use. In Africa and Asia, mobile technology is gaining momentum whereby timely market news is delivered to operators in the agricultural and fisheries sector. Furthermore, mobile technology or smart phone farming saves a lot of time and effort by keeping information in the palm of the hand. Similarly, geotagging has some unique features that give the possibility to create combined data maps in remote areas and share the desired information with your online collaborators.

Different social networkers are using the power of web 2.0 to facilitate collaborative translation and content localisation. On the other hand, web 3.0 is a term used to talk about some aspects of the internet that are potentially possible, but not yet feasible from a technical or practical perspective.

Some of the challenges that still need to be tackled:
  • Internet connectivity and bandwidth problem
  •  Accessibility to logistic facilities in remote areas.
  • Though social networking offers numerous advantages, it can also pose problem to data privacy, security and intellectual property of the users. One should be aware that while creating profile on social networking sites, private information are shared with advertisers.

Web 2.0 tools provide an enabling multi-platform that transcends the traditional service delivery of information. If properly used and integrated, these can change the backbone of  disseminating agricultural information and hence improve interactivity among the different stakeholders.  

With the emergence of a new farming community characterised by younger and more dynamic people who are more demanding and also conversent with ICT, it has become primordial for our local extension services to operate differently. Hence it might not be long before the extension services will need to change its modus operandus and align itself on the digital path to better serve its clientele. 

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Web 2.0 Learning Opportunity-My Personal experience

First of all i would like to thank the organizing committee namely CTA, Faculty of Agriculture and FARC for giving me the opportunity to attend the Web 2.0 Learning Opportunity course. 

 Reflecting and in response to the trends in the agricultural sector, it is becoming increasingly important to acquire new skills and knowledge through lifelong learning. The web 2.0 and its participatory culture it engenders, has great potential allowing for information exchange at our fingertips in a more systematic way on a multi-platform. In addition, it offers numerous opportunities in terms of interaction.

Some of the examples are given below:
  • I have learnt about obtaining well-matched information using refined search methods
  • Sharing and exchanging information in a variety of forms e.g google docs and wikis
  • The dynamics of RSS feeds
  • Supporting dialogue and collaboration with document co-creation (google docs, wikis) and resource sharing tools on a common virtual platform
  • Creation of blogs and wikis
  • The concept of VOIP
Last but not least, this training course has given me the opportunity to grasp the major concepts of web 2.0 tools. I am looking forward to share my experiences with colleagues of my institutions.

Agricultural extension as a new frontier

Wordcloud created at from
themes associated with agriculture
Agricultural extension is the function of providing need and demand-based knowledge in agronomic techniques and skills to farming communities in a systematic, participatory manner, with the objective of improving their production, income, and (by implication) quality of life. Extension is essentially education and it aims to bring about positive behavioural changes among farmers.

Extension is an essential pillar both for farming community progress and as part of a strategy of agricultural research and development. Agricultural research remains an academic endeavour unless it is informed by real problems on the ground and efforts are made to deliver solutions to farmers by appropriate forms of extension. Research institutions focus on the technical aspects for generating useful technologies, while extension focuses on the acceptance and adoption of those technologies by users.

Agricultural extension has been the subject of much effort and discussion over the decades. The record of the experience is mixed. As agriculture moves back onto the agenda, extension needs to move there likewise and receive the renewed attention that it deserves.

 Source: - 11 July 2012