Initial Project Description
(excerpts from early correspondence)
There are currently a few facts that can be used to guide the process:
- There are a few initial priority NTFPs that the Partnership plans to focus on
- There are several cross-cutting themes
- There are partners with varying degrees of IT knowledge
- There is a clear interest in exchanging experiences, best practices
- There is no strong opinion on the kind of platform that would best suit the purpose
The global information hub should become a "Community of Practice" Repository and Portal, with (some of) the following elements:
- Structured article collection on NTFPs and cross-cutting themes, with links to external resources and linked files, e.g., "NTFPedia"
- Distributed technology/best practices database, metadata standard, XML-supported data exchange, e.g., TECA
- Open and Distance Learning (ODL) resources (online – authoring and delivery platform, hard copy)
- Forums/blogs/discussion groups: user interaction
- Q+A / expert services, linked w/ rural radio
- Search engine, WebBots/crawlers and RSS news feeds
Some quotes from the developing knowledge management philosophy for the NTFP partnership:
- Ownership and quality control by users through completely transparent and democratic community participation (e.g., wiki, i.e., unrestricted content provision and editing)
- Compatibility with partner and other (external) information systems (data exchange standards, e.g., TECA)
- Economic use of ICTs, i.e., cutting through the information glut (e.g. WebBots and RSS), and tailored to local capacities (e.g., linking to traditional media)
- Empowerment, i.e., symmetric, 2-way flow of information to share best practices and innovations, and to communicate information needs. Development of new systems, if required, through user-developer consultations.
Integration with eXe
The Wiki would be one of the core elements of the initiative, supporting the knowledge and learning function. There are also provisions for ODL work; the Wiki would be an important input into that, too, as a document repository and reference location. While Wiki would facilitate collaborative content development, by linking Wiki with eXe it could be used as a bridge, importing content from the Wiki and exporting to other learning management systems.
Integration of eXe, Wiki's and LMSs is purposefully designed to find the most economical and cost effective solution without inventing new wheels.
- The wiki is the best OSS solution for collaborative authoring - but the wiki cannot package resources using SCORM & IMS specficifactionsm making it less usable for eLearning applications.
- eXe is not designed for collaborative authoring - but packages resources using SCORM plus the added ability for teachers to customise existing content for local needs offline without connectivity.
- LMSs are the tools best designed for delivery of content to learners.
In short all the applications selected are existing open source solutions - Putting these technologies together - the resultant whole is much more than the sum of the parts.
Requirements Specification Document: Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) Knowledge Repository
The NTFP knowledge repository is an important element of the activities of the Global NTFP Partnership. Partners have expressed an interest specifically in the exchange of experiences and best practices across the membership, with a view to practical applications and livelihood development. In addition to improved access to knowledge by users there are links to an Open and Distance Learning (ODL) element, to allow for re-packaging and dissemination of relevant content to learners, i.e., ultimate beneficiaries. A guiding principle is to use existing open source solutions. Further, the system must allow for the production/customization of content for offline use.
The following requirements are proposed as a basis to develop the knowledge and dissemination system:
1. Capture, collect and store knowledge in a structured yet flexible manner: Repository (Wiki)
1.1 The repository is envisaged as an article collection on Partners, NTFPs, and Cross-cutting Themes, based on collective authoring. There are two main objectives:
1.1.1 Exchange platform for lessons learnt and best practices, based on action research sites owned/operated by the partners, for validation, adaptation, and adoption
1.1.2 Reference centre for content to be re-packaged and disseminated to learners
1.2 Tentative structure of the repository:
1.2.1 Section on Partners; Metadata: Expertise, Activities, Sites
1.2.2 Section on NTFPs; Metadata: Resources and Distribution, Management, Uses and Value-Added
- Aromatic plants
- Dye plants
- Fuel wood
- Medicinal plants
- Thatching and plaiting plant materials
1.2.3 Section on Cross-cutting Themes; Metadata: Policy, Community Enterprise Development, Supply Chain Management, Marketing
[Note: This is a basic and tentative structure; partners may have additional and/or different ideas; in the short and medium term a need for changes/adaptations is to be expected as the system is being used by partners and we receive feedback]
1.2.4 Existing content will be imported into the repository. The nature of each piece of content will determine where it is placed within the structure of the repository.
1.3.1 Only partners (i.e., members of the Global NTFP Partnership) can contribute and edit (quality control)
1.3.2 Besides text, the system facilitates upload of various file formats, e.g., images, PowerPoints, short videos, etc., that will be displayed in the articles
1.4.1 Anyone can search and view articles (multilingual keyword search might be interesting, based on the FAO AGROVOC, languages: English, Spanish, French)
1.4.2 Users can interact via discussion pages for each entry
1.4.3 Users can export and customize content for use in teaching, etc.
1.5 Maintain contact with users: users can create watch lists for entries on certain subjects and receive a notification when updates are made to entries
2. Re-package and customize content for teaching
A simple to use authoring tool to produce high-quality teaching materials, e.g., eXe, http://exelearning.org/, easy to integrate with different existing Learning Management Systems (LMS), would act as a bridge between the repository and other LMS.
3. Disseminate and scale-up
Delivery of content using sound pedagogical principles through Learning Management Systems (e.g., Moodle, http://moodle.org/), and offline for low connectivity situations, adds value to the repository by reaching out to larger groups of learners, i.e., ultimate beneficiaries.