The Faculty of Agriculture in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Research Council (FARC) and the SADC Implementation & Coordination of Agricultural Research & Training (ICART) project organised a workshop on the use of WEB 2.0 Collaborative Tools for Agricultural Information Management on Thursday 8 and Friday 9 July 2010.
The objectives of the workshop were to introduce participants to such web based tools, consolidate capacity on Web 2.0 tools, develop practical skills in using web tools and finally to facilitate information exchange and management in the agricultural field at the national level.
45 participants (including the academic staff of the FOA) representing various agricultural institutions and stakeholders in Mauritius attended the training workshop. The facilitators were Mr. K.J. Bheenick, Regional Information, Communication and Training Officer of the ICART project and Mr Sanjay Sembhoo, Extension Officer of the Information Unit of the Agricultural Research and Extension Unit - a parastatal body of the Ministry of AgroIndustry and Food Security.
What is WEB 2.0?WEB 2.0 refers to web development and design that facilitates interactivity, communication, information-sharing, cooperation and collaboration on the World Wide Web. It includes web based communities, hosted services, applications and platforms that support for example, social networking websites, video and photo sharing websites, social bookmarking websites (e.g., delicious), RSS (e.g., google reader) wikis (e.g., wikispaces), blogs ( e.g., blogger) and some VoIP services. Together they are radically changing the ways we create, share, collaborate on and publish digital information through the internet.
A glimpse of the Training Sessions
The Dean of Faculty of Agriculture, Assoc. Prof. D. Puchooa welcomed the participants to the workshop and expressed his complete satisfaction on the fruitful collaboration between UoM, FARC and SADC for holding the event. The Vice Chancellor of the University of Mauritius congratulated the Faculty for organising such event and wished participants to take full benefit from the training. The SADC resource person, Mr Krishan Bheenick was enthusiastic about the large number of responses from the various institutions and highlighted he will do his best together with the other resources person to create a greater awareness on WEB 2.O tools. He congratulated the collaborative effort made by staff of the Faculty of Agriculture and the FARC to bring this workshop to fruition.
During the training sessions, participants who came from different agricultural institutions were were exposed to tools covering: social media, RSS, blogs, wikis, Dgroups, GoogleDocs, social bookmarking, learning management and online surveys. From the discussion that ensued the representatives of the agricultural institutions in Mauritius appreciated the effectiveness of such tools and highlighted that strategic adopt of these tools can greatly help their organisation and other stakeholders in areas such as media management, learning management, document editing/peer reviewing and social networking. For example, one tool that is still underexploited in Mauritius, and completely overlooked in the agricultural sector, is the use of RSS. This workshop has therefore provided them with a golden opportunity to rethink on their communication strategy and to raise awareness of these tools in their institutions possibilities in information exchange and collaboration
In the concluding remarks, the Dean thanked all participants for their active contributions and lively interactions during the discussion sessions and wish that the flame of WEB 2.O is kept burning and we will soon see that most of our agricultural institutions websites are compliant with these new tools. He thanked the resource persons for their facilitation skills as well as all the training materials provided. The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation has provided participants with free learning materials such as CDs and magazines on a Web 2.0 tools.
The idea of creating this blog arose from the discussions sessions we had during the training workshop. It is a clear tangible outcome of the training workshop.