02 October 2006

Agricultural extension using the Web

An article by John G. Schmitz at the University of Illinois provides a very useful overview of 'web-based extension.' Drawing on experiences from the USA, he provides recommendations to help organizations quicken their transition to web-based delivery, discusses some trends in web-based extension, and lists some key policy issues that impact web-based extension.
Among his recommendations are:
  • Content is King
  • Create an Online Crop Bulletin
  • Post Handbooks for Farmers
  • Don't Re-invent the Wheel
  • Plan for Convergence of Media and Reusability of Content
  • Adopt Web Standards
  • Create both National and Regional Portals
  • Try Web Delivery of Traditional Programs
  • Require Extension Staff to Produce and Post Content
  • Train Extension Staff to use the Web
His four main policy challanges are:
  • Collaboration between Content-Providers: extension services around the world will better reach and help farmers if government, NGOs and Agribusiness collaborate to contribute content.
  • Open Content: What are still needed are the policies that will draw domestic and international content-providers together to set up searchable open content respositories and digital libraries for agriculture.
  • Infrastructure for Web Delivery to Rural Areas: Creative, coordinated funding is needed to explore and jump-start web technologies to connect the rural world.
  • Coordination between Funding Agencies: Agencies that fund agricultural extension and related missions must better coordinate their efforts. Examples of successful coordination are there, but many times reported collaborations do not appear substantial.



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