At this week’s international conference on Integrated Systems Research for Sustainable Intensification in Smallholder Agriculture, Iddo Dror presented a poster on ways that ILRI is leveraging instructional design and learning theories to improve productivity in smallholder systems. The poster is about a learning package to support use of the FEAST tool.
Feed for livestock is often cited as the main constraint to improved productivity in smallholder systems, yet uptake of feed technologies remains relatively low. The Feed Assessment Tool (FEAST) is a set of electronic forms and accompanying documentation designed by scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) to help research and development practitioners working in the agricultural sector conduct farmer-centered diagnoses by providing a more systematic means of assessing current feed, related strategies and analytics to inform the development of new strategies. The main forms of the FEAST tool are built on Microsoft Excel, but feature a more visual, more intuitive interface than typical spreadsheets.
To date, FEAST training for practitioners has consisted of 3-day, face-to-face sessions conducted on-site in host countries, facilitated by members of ILRI’s staff. While the growing popularity of the FEAST tool is seen as a positive development, the increasing demand for training has placed a considerable strain on ILRI’s staff, to the detriment of other activities, and perhaps also limits the dissemination of the tool to all those who can benefit from it. Meanwhile, there is a sense that 3 days of traditional classroom instruction might not be sufficient to adequately address the major concepts and skills necessary for the participants’ success in the field.
As part of ILRI’s contributions to CGIAR research programs on Livestock and Fish and Humidtropics, ILRI has decided to convert the existing materials into a blended learning course with both online and offline modules, and a re-designed face to face component, to provide a more effective learning experience to more participants in less time than current methods / resources allow, reduce the burden on current facilitators while ensuring consistency and accuracy of instruction even if less experienced facilitators are enlisted to deliver the classes, and better track the performance of class participants.
The poster/presentation covers the process followed, explain why and how to reformat and refine course materials, and provide an overview of effective development of eLearning and blended learning materials in the context of systems research developing countries.
More information: ilri.org/feast
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