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IFADAsia, Calling All Hands

Display Date: 3/30/16

Benoit Thierry from the IFAD Asia and the Pacific Division has recently taken on extra knowledge sharing and knowledge management responsibilities. In this connecction, Benoit is getting in touch with many of our site hosts and users to get their inputs on how we can improve this portal as a community space and tool for networking and sharing information and knowledge.

If you are reading this article you probably have some thoughts of your own on how IFADAsia could be improved.  Please let Benoit hear from you by adding a comment below, or joining the discussion on this topic in the discussion space on the bottomo of the page. 

Comments
Great..

Certainly Benoit will lead a nice team of writers and contributors from the projects to bring the APR in the frontline at IFAD, through presenting the best stories.

One small suggestion, a competition-based-participation may encourage projects for sharing of innovative activities that brought a huge turn in the lives of participating communities. Like for instance, a project in Pakistan (SPPAP) introduced small and low cost housing units for landless women-headed households who were living for generations and generations in landlords' control providing labour for free or very low returns mostly in kind. Those women and their families never imagined that life was a meaningful gift from the Nature.

A panel of CPMs\CPOs could pick the best story recommending for the reward\appreciation\recognition at any of the Regional (APR) or IFAD Corporate level events.

Thanks
Karim

Posted on 3/31/16 6:27 PM.

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We were part of the original team that put together IFADasia and were very proud to work on such a ground breaking site for the time.

But now from a users point of view we note that it is time for an upgrade in many ways to make the site more efficient, clear and «user friendly».

The user experience (UX) of the internet has changed enormously within the last 5 years. Most users now view web sites on smart devices (smart phones and tablets). And in there future more and more people will be viewing web contents on these devices instead of traditonal computers.

This site is not web responsive, so it has became very uncomfortable and almost impossible to be used with a smaller screens. The dropdown menus are very difficult to use.

Also because of the speed with which technology and information is moving. The overall look and feel of the site looks dated. The way in which the information is displayed in the present is completely different from 5 years agol.

Have the site analytics been used to understand what content is most viewed by the user and to prioritise it? Has analytics been used to see how the users are using the site? is the star rating still valid? Just a few of the questions that come to mind.

Perhaps before launching IFADasia into the next phase it would be a good time to acess the usability of the site before moving on.

We would hope to be part of the team to make it possible. Best regards to all.
Joanne Morgante
Maxtudio Roma

Posted on 4/1/16 5:20 PM.

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We would hope to be part of the team to make it possible.

Posted on 4/2/16 1:01 AM.

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Here are my two cents.

That's a great news! It would be great if members like us who are not directly involved in any of the IFAD-funded projects are also allowed to contribute to IFADAsia. I would like to write blogs for IFADAsia, about the project interventions and new technologies that the projects can adopt.

Besides, it would be great if provisions like embedding tweets, Instagram and Facebook feeds in the blogs are added. It would make the blogs look more professional and readers can directly see the beneficiaries quotes mentioned in their tweets and Facebook status.

Another important improvement that I would like to see in the IFADAsia is provision of translation of widely read blogs into local languages like Global Voices. The community members translate the posts into more than 35 languages voluntarily.

Thanks and I hope the IFADAsia site will be a vibrant platform of exchanging ideas and knowledge.

Sanjib

Posted on 4/4/16 2:24 PM in reply to Kandawela A Premasiri.

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The IFADAsia website is a content-rich site that is easy to navigate. It has numerous useful features for the users and contributors, and it requires only a small learning curve. It is a wonderful repository of lots of useful information.

The site has many photos and videos. They are interesting and useful. Being multi-media heavy is only a problem if the users have low band-width.

The only aspect of the current IFADAsia website that might be tweaked is the tiny size of the font in many places. It should not be a struggle to read it, especially since web-pages are usually quickly scanned by users.

A major issue is definition of the users. If the website is for IFAD staff, project collaborators, partners (current and potential), governments and donors, then the website is very good. If one tries to extend its purpose to a more general public, it is less successful. Websites can rarely, if ever, be all things to all people.

IFADAsia might benefit from extending its self-definition beyond the asia.ifad.org website.

For example, there is a public Facebook group, but it covers all of Asia, and most user's interests are not that broad. The model of including parts of the website in Facebook works well, but perhaps there could be many Facebook groups, covering separately many countries, and many cross-cutting themes. The content is already created on the website - it is just a technology matter to reproduce it in Facebook. Issues of allowing users to post messages, and moderating the groups, would have to be addressed, but are not costly relative to the benefits.

Replication of the content of the website into other social media, including in other languages, would extend the benefits of the website and the work that went into creating the content. Social media changes fast, and is used differently in different countries, cultures, and socio-economic situations. IFADAsia could include these other social medias, and adaptation to change would necessarily be an explicit part of the strategy.

People are used to having information feeds from the social media they choose. IFADAsia content might get more traction when provided through these other social media.

IFADAsia content should also be more easily available on browsers of mobile phones. The different screen-size and navigation requirements are such that there should be a completely redesigned version for mobile phones. A watered-down version of the full website would not do justice to the content.

Finally, the IFADAsia website content is easily searchable in many places, like Google. It should also be searchable in the IFAD website.

Posted on 4/8/16 3:40 PM.

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Thanks for the opportunity to make suggestions... I don't have a specific one unfortunately. IFADAsia is an important knowledge sharing tool; but I find difficulty in benefitting from IFADAsia because of all the different places where info is posted, e.g. country pages, project pages etc. I only have the time/opportunity to scan the overall regional feed page. I suppose everything cannot be posted on one webpage, but if the number of pages is reduced this could be helpful for scanning new posts. Or perhaps a single feed provided to each user based on what she/he selects to follow?

Posted on 4/12/16 9:54 AM.

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A few things spring to mind immediately.
1. Podcasts are a useful way of sharing information. You can listen to podcasts while driving, in the office, while traveling, and while working at home or in the field. 2. The search function could be improved. There could be a link to social media as suggested above. 3. Some people might want to post anonymously. 4. It might be a good idea to build a project around Knowledge Management (KM), as monitoring and especially moderating can quickly become a huge task. The project could then hire staff for this purpose. 5. Workshops can make use of already excellent material as found here, such as the videos etc, to make workshops visual and interactive. Many people are visual/audio learners as opposed to reading or listening to presentations. Especially for ethnic/linguistic minorities. 6. Further marketing and outreach of this website should be done, as there are very few, if any, such forums for agricultural development out there. One exception is the Laofab forum in Laos.

Posted on 4/22/16 6:25 AM in reply to Tawfiq El-Zabri.

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Dear Madam Chase,

Many thanks for posting this and Benoit much appreciated your approach to reach out people.

Below are my few observations on views posted by IFAD Asia Peers

Abdul Karim:
I strongly agree with an idea of introducing competition based participation and appreciation for KM focal points.

Joanne:

Agree: This is right time to change interface. Mobile App can be a great tool (on three technology platform Microsoft, Android and IPhone)

Tora:
On users issue/members issue: I think retaining everyone associated with IFAD project is good idea. They have worked hard and contributed to make what we are witness as IFAD’s achievement.

On extending to other regions: I think, we need to request IFAD to come up IFADAsia evaluation report and its success or failure with Cost benefit analysis? if it is successful then replication is highly recommended.

Tawfiq:

IFAD Asia portal has rich feature that user can chose whether his/her contents needs to be reflected at regional, national or project level. If user think content is worth of sharing at regional level and regional site host approves then it’s available on regional feed. I suggest keeping number of pages same is ideal else we will be lost in contents posted by everyone.

IIari :
Anonymously posting would not be a good idea. The posting content become responsible action of the user. Mobile app for moderate can help to approve the content as it is posted by the registered user.

My Suggestions:
1.IFAD project supervision missions/evaluation team needs to incorporate use of IFAD Asia knowledge sharing portal and statistical report on content posted. I had suggested in 2011; that we need to use some of the Google Analytics features for developing monitoring and evaluation Indicators.
2.I suggest going step-by-step before we encourage and share this messages to further more. Can we re-engage our KM focal points through respective country offices to re-introduce what portal is about? How to engage project partners and stakeholders on the portal? KM Focal points may have new ideas for further enhancement of the portal.
3.IFAD HQ needs to be consistent supporting KM initiatives. If we observe in 2011-12 projects were active (at least in India) 2013 onwards we see the amount of content posted is insignificant.
4.If country offices are held responsible to marketing and outreaching website then possibly project KM focal points will take it seriously. It seems even country office is not interested to post what projects/office is doing in the country.
5.I think let us push the re-start button and start training people what are features available and developing project specific action plans besides KPIs to monitor progress.

I am sure that IFAD Asia can help IFAD to be recognized as organization with difference. Request to IFAD HQ is to maintain consistencies in project implementation.
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Posted on 5/3/16 7:18 PM.

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