Wednesday, August 24, 2016

One Step Closer to the Launch of a course on Technology Stewardship to promote Information and Communication Technology (ICT) adoption in Agricultural Communities of Practice

We are now drawing closer to the launch of our Technology Stewardship course that is part of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Development Grant supporting a collaborative research project between the University of Alberta, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, and the University of Guelph. We are currently working on finalizing course materials for translation and will begin accepting participant applications in the beginning of September.

Participants will engage in an interactive and hands-on two-day workshop at the In-Service Training Institute of the Department of Export Agriculture, Matale, from September 28-30, 2016. They will take part in 12 hours of classroom instruction and receive a certificate of completion upon finishing all four training modules. Participants will learn firsthand about the principles and practices of technology stewardship and how they can be applied to encourage the adoption and use of new ICTs within agricultural communities of practice. Nancy Smith, Etienne Wenger, and John Smith of the Full Circle Blog coined a useful definition of Technology Stewards:

 “Technology stewards are people with enough experience of the workings of a community to understand its technology needs, and enough experience with technology to take leadership in addressing those needs. Stewardship typically includes selecting and configuring technology, as well as supporting its use in the practice of the community.”

As mentioned, this pilot course is being delivered as part of an ongoing action research project with Sri Lankan and Canadian academic partners. Course developers and instructors include representatives from the University of Alberta, the University of Guelph, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, the University of Peradeniya, Sahana Software Foundation (Sri Lanka), and FrontlineSMS. Besides directly benefitting course participants and their communities, this course is intended to enhance collaboration between researchers, practitioners, and non-profit sectors by promoting the sharing of research results and facilitating knowledge exchange across diverse sectors.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The project enters a new phase with Technology Stewardship workshop in September 2016

Work on the SSHRC Partnership Development Grant has moved into a new phase of activities, with a Technology Stewardship Workshop planned for September 29-Oct. 2 at Wayamba University of Sri Lanka.

The workshop will build on the achievements of the SSHRC-PDG and establish a foundation for further research in the area of technology stewardship and inclusive innovation.  The team was awarded a SSHRC Connections Grant to provide funding support for the workshop and we are looking forward to inviting new partners to join us in this work.

More information about the Workshop will be coming soon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Canadian graduate student visits Rangiri Radio Station in Sri Lanka to collect feedback from the use of radio and ICTs (Radio+) for sustainable agriculture.

Faria Rashid, MSc candidate from the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development at the University of Guelph (Canada), visited Rangiri Radio Station, Sri Lanka in October 2015 to understand innovation in farm radio in Sri Lanka.

Rangiri Radio staff has been collaborating with the project titled “Mobilizing Knowledge for Sustainable Agriculture” where open source software and mobile technologies are tested. The project is led by University of Alberta (Canada) and partners with University of Wayamba (Sri Lanka). Various technologies (Frontline SMS, Freedom Fone, etc.) were tested by Rangiri to support programming such as “Call – in” audience response programs, multiple text messaging and voice recorded messages.

Faria also discussed feedback from the Rangiri Radio technicians and broadcasters about the farm radio program and further opportunities to use mobile technologies and open source software. Radio+ combines radio with new ICTs enabling radio and agricultural communities to create innovations such as rapid relay of information about sustainable farming to listeners. She discovered that open software such as Freedom Fone and Frontline SMS make the radio program more popular to farmer listeners. Rangiri Radio staff mentioned that after using the open source software in their farm program, responses from farmer listeners increased dramatically. The main strength of this experience for understanding ICT-enabled radio or “Radio+” is that it creates a strong communication relation as well as a multi-media connection between agricultural experts and farmers. Radio+ enhances farm radio programs. Farmers can get their problems solved quickly and easily by accessing important information from agricultural experts when they ask questions through the open source software channels. 

Faria and the rest of the project team greatly appreciate the work of Rangiri Radio and their support to make this visit successful.