Central Asia, News from the Regions

Integrating Traditional Crop Genetic Diversity into Technology: Using a Biodiversity Portfolio Approach to Buffer against Unpredictable Environmental Change in the Nepal Himalayas ; Invitation to a GEF LCP Virtual Workshop, December 2016

November 7th, 2016 | Source: Devendra Gauchan

What is virtual workshop?

A virtual workshop is a meeting organized online rather than in a physical location. In a conventional workshop participants travel to a venue to present their work and have discussions. But in a virtual workshop, participants visit a dedicated website where they present their work and participate in an online discussion. The presentations are pre-recorded with audio narration and uploaded to the workshop website where other participants view the presentation at their convenience and participate in thoughtful written discussions using the comments and reply feature.

How will it work?

Our virtual workshop will be hosted at www.localcropsproject.info. Participants are asked to work on their assigned presentations and submit to Richa and Safal by 7 December 2016. The presentations and discussions questions will all be uploaded to the website by 10 December and as soon as the presentations are up team members can comment on them. All team members will need to create a user account at the virtual workshop so that the information on the project can be kept internal.

Why organize a virtual workshop?

The Local Crop Project is trying this as an innovation to complement our physical meetings such as the Annual Technical Review and Planning Meeting (ARPM), Writeshop and Project Steering committee meetings. It is designed to improve our technical discussions, facilitate documentation of our work and provide a platform for the growing number of team members of different levels of experiences to contribute their best to the project. The main benefits of organizing a virtual workshop are:

More time for planning at ARPM:

Past experiences have shown that the majority of time of the 3 days ARPM is spent on the review part and only limited time (usually half day) is available for the planning. Furthermore, planning also happens at the end of the programme when people are exhausted from a long meeting and there is a visible decline in energy levels compared to day 1. By having detailed review of the project’s work in the virtual workshop, we can focus on Outcome level discussion at the ARPM and allocate more time to the planning portion. The discussions and presentations documented in the Virtual Workshop will serve as the empirical basis for our planning.

Opportunities for more voices:

When the presentations are crammed into a 3 day schedule, participants need to digest the presentation on the fly and then respond with their queries and comments within a matter of minutes. This usually means that the experienced staff are able to participate more while the less experienced staff are just limited to the role of listening. In a virtual workshop, each participant can take their time to process the presentation, refer to other reading materials and craft their responses and queries to put forth to the team. This will allow team members of all levels of experiences to raise their questions and share their experiences by putting in the necessary hard work. Furthermore, by having a larger number of activity level presentations, we are also creating opportunities for people working on the front line to reflect on and share their work to the whole team and directly seek out inputs.

Wider Participation:

The team members of LCP are spread across multiple organizations in multiple countries. It is not physically possible for many of them to participate in the Annual Technical Review and Planning Meetings. This allows for a wider number of people to participate and contribute.

Documentation of Technical Discussion:

Effective note-taking during meetings is essential but also a difficult task. Often meeting minutes are designed to record key management decisions and action points and not well suited to capturing the rich tapestry of arguments and discussions. However, when we reflect on the lessons learned and try to publish our work or make better plans for future work and projects, proper documentation of these ideas and discussions would have been immensely helpful. The digitization of group works from brown paper and meta cards to Word files are helpful to an extent, but they too only capture keywords but not necessarily a description of how those keywords are connected. A virtual forum like this allows participants to explore ideas and document them.

Practice of writing:

This will indeed be a lot of intellectual work, but it will be spread out over a period of a month. At the end of it, people who participate in it will demonstrate their abilities as researchers and also improve their ability to communicate and receive ideas in the written form, a skill that will be very important for their own professional growth.