ILRI workshop trains staff in social media for research communication

Research communications and Local Content workshops

A workshop on ‘Africa Learning and Exchange on Local Content, Social Media and Agricultural/Rural Knowledge Sharing’ opened on the Nairobi campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) last week.

From Monday through Wednesday, 5–7 July, the focus of the workshop was on ‘Research Communication’ and participants, who included ILRI staff and communication practitioners from research and non-profit organizations from Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, were trained on use of social media tools in research communications. Participants also shared their experiences of using these tools.

The research communication workshop taught participants how to recover and disseminate research, identify and counter bias in search tools and use social media/web 2.0 tools and skills and approaches. Participants gained hands-on experience in working with wikis, creating blogs and adding content, using social bookmarking tools, such as Delicious, and using feeds to organize information from different web resources.

Participants also identified the challenges and opportunities offered by social media tools in Africa. They used a participatory wiki to document and share the workshop proceedings and edited and produced short video clips highlighting their views of the workshop.

Evelyn Katingi, a research coordinator with ILRI, said the workshop helped her ‘appreciate the value of social media tools in better organizing my work.’ She added ‘I look forward to using these tools in my work and in training others how to use them.’

A second part of the workshop, held 8–9 July, focused on sharing experiences of using modern online communication, social media and digital tools in gathering and sharing local African content. Participants included community radio hosts and managers, social workers and trainers who also explored how digital and online output from their organizations in Africa can be combined and promoted externally. The participants developed a shared understanding of how these tools and approaches can best be adapted to the African context to promote knowledge sharing.

Output from this week-long workshop, which was organized by ILRI and a Dutch-funded initiative, Emergent Issues in Information and Knowledge Management (IKM) and International Development, known as the IKM Emergent Research Programme, will inform preparation for an AgKnowledge Africa ShareFair that will take place at the ILRI campus in Addis Ababa in October 2010.

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