Monday, December 6, 2010

E-Learning Course For Africa Broadcasters

Blythe McKay is Manager of Programmes & Partnerships of Farm Radio International, FRI, in Canada. She highlighted e-learning courses organized to support African broadcasters through the development of radio scripts on small holder farmer innovations during the Pan Commonwealth of Learning Forum in Kochi, India late in November 2010. Introducing the e-learning issue, Blythe described a script as a written version of a short radio programme. The FRI script writing competitions started in 2005 with 26 entries from 16 countries on the MDGs, In 2007, the competition focused on Climate Change Adaptation with 51 entries from 20 countries.
In 2009, the radio script competition was on smallholder farmers and this accumulated 82 scripts from 20 countries. The last competition is in the course of evaluation and this got 128 entries with over 500 subscribers. Four competitions have been organized since 2005.
She explained that the purpose of the competition is to strengthen the capacity of African broadcasters affiliated to the Farm Radio International network. Different topics have been treated, as far as the needs of communicators and smallholder farmers is concerned.
In 2009, Farm Radio International partnered with Community of Learning, COL, to offer an e-learning component and to provide training for participants in the competition. Since these activities started, the number of participants has continued to increased, reflecting the value and impact of the exercise. FRI covers over 250 radio stations on the Africa continent.
The process includes course development, marketing and sign up, online training and the use of CD-Rom, script submission, judging by international panel, revision of winning script, evaluation and distribution.
This process is organized in such a way that broadcasters are reached on time. Persons who do not have regular access to internet, receive the their packets of scripts by post. It takes a couple of months for some to receive materials from Farm radio international.
The FRI online training has a duration of 10 weeks or more. When the process is completed, the scripts are reviewed by an international panel of judges. 10 to 15 winners are selected and they receive a certificate and a mini recorder for producing more interactive programmes in their stations as a incentive. They are often advised to revise their scripts based on the feedback received from the judges, to make sure the content is balanced.
When it is packed and posted to the broadcasters, the scripts are adapted and used during local language broadcasts targeting the farmer and animal breeder. Between 300 and 500 packets are sent to sub Saharan Africa. As an organization, FRI learns by doing and this helps for the planning and organization of future competitions.
The web site of Farm radio International, FRI, can be consulted at, Over 1.000 scripts are have been lodged on the web site and people can download and use them free of any charge. Farm Radio International( is a Canadian registered charity that is at the forefront of using radio combined with other ICTs to serve smallholder farmers. It sends information on low-cost ways to improve food security to 360 radio stations across 39 countries. The packages, in English and French, cover topics from improving soil fertility to coping with climate change. In the past 30 years, local broadcasters have valued the materials and translated them into over one hundred local African languages.Over 950 subscriptions receive electronic news service on weekly basis. Farm Radio International also privodes training to broadcasters to improve their skills in serving smallholders, more of them in rural communities.

Innovative Tool for Distance Learning
Jothi, Santhy & Valluvaparidasan are all of the directorate of the Open Distance Learning in Tamil Nadu Agricultural University of India. They presented a joint paper on the innovative tool for community development through distance education.
The government is requesting the agricultural sector to come up with innovations that can help farmers improve on their yields, especially in the dry regions of the country. E-Learning is used by the International Crop Research Institute for the semi arid tropics and Tamil Nadu Agriculture University. In these institutions, instead for building course from the top down, the opposite is down building courses from the bottom upwards. This helps to locate the learning objects.
The two points on content with the consumers are the missing part of e-learning as a social network, who is reading the RLO and the automatic formation of the list, not forgetting the Meta Data with at least three taxonomies. Google relates documents to documents and it is the same system that is applied in the innovation to e-learning by the directorate.
User profiles have been conceive to facilitate interested persons to sign up for the course they want.

Innovations In ODL In Agriculture

Venkataraman Bataji, B.S. Hansra, Surya Gunjai, Valiuva Paridasan and Praveen S. Jain are of the ICRISAT in Patancheru, the School of Agriculture of IGNOU, School of Agriculture of YCMOU, the ODL Directorate and the school of agriculture, IGNOU. They made a joint presentation on innovations using the practices in re-usable Learning objects and semantic web technologies. In the picture above, Blythe is standing with James, focal point for FRI Cameroon. For more, visit the following web site at

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