27 March 2009

eLearning for international agriculture development

A long standing dilemma, particularly in developing countries, has been in how to get important knowledge to those who most need it. Developing country agricultural professionals are largely isolated from the global knowledge system and poor rural farmers are isolated from national knowledge systems.

One approach that has shown considerable promise, at least for strengthening the knowledge of agricultural professionals who in turn pass knowledge on to farmers, is eLearning. This paper focuses on how two non-profit organizations dealt with challenges associated with eLearning for agriculture and offers a number of recommendations for future efforts.

The authors’ involvement in two eLearning for agriculture organizations illustrated a number of challenges. While they were not successful in using this approach to reach farmers directly, survey results suggested that by targeting “knowledge intermediaries” they did improve knowledge flow to the ultimate beneficiaries.

The authors advance 3 recommendations. The first is to address the numerous digital divide issues that plague rural communities. Telecenters and new technologies like the Fieldserver have shown promise. Second, more attention should paid to providing support and training opportunities in online course design and facilitation for agricultural educators. Third, they call for increased long-term, public-sector and donor support for agricultural eLearning.

Read the full article.

E-learning courses for agricultural information managers

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