This is a list of our publications.
The format (page size?, bound or unbound? online?) chosen for a publication depends on its intended use and the audience or readership. Here are some things to think about when planning a publication.
Printed information materials are needed for a variety of uses.
- Training materials — for use during formal and informal training courses
- Teaching materials — for trainees to use, in turn, to teach other people
- Reference materials — for trainees to refer to as needed after the course, or by people who have not attended training
Some materials need to fulfill only one of these functions. Others may need to fulfill more than one. The format depends on the use: loose-leaf materials may be better suited as handouts during a training session, but are not very handy for reference: they get out of order easily. For reference materials, a table of contents is vital, and an index is very useful.
Choose a format that will best fulfil the uses you envisage for the materials.
Printed information materials are useful for a variety of audiences:
- Trainees in training courses
- University students
- NGO staff
- Extension personnel
- Local people
- Local and national government officials
- The "interested public"
Design your materials with the audience in mind. For schoolchildren, use large type and lots of pictures. For semiliterate people, keep the words and sentences short, and make sure the pictures carry the message even if the words do not. For busy government officials, structure the information so the most important things come first.
Printed information materials can take a variety of formats. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
Each topic is printed on a separate sheet. As far as possible, each topic fills only one sheet (front and back). The materials are printed on heavy paper to ensure long life. The paper can be color-coded for easy reference.
The materials are printed as a single, bound book. Topics are grouped into chapters and sections.
The materials are printed as a series of thin, pocket-size booklets, with one booklet per topic or subject area.
Online materials can take on a huge range of forms. They can be the online equivalent of print-on-paper. They can also incorporate links to other sources of information, audio and video, and interactive elements such as games or quizzes.
A tool for analysing knowledge systems
List all the actors or "stakeholders" in a particular knowledge system. There are a lot of these. Taking agriculture as an example, these might include (there are obviously lots of others that might be added):
- Government policymakers: agriculture, education, etc.
- Civil society: NGOs, community-based organisations, churches, etc.
- Private sector: input suppliers, agri-processors, marketing, etc.
- Scientific institutions: universities, research institutes, etc.
- Extension agencies
- Individuals: farmers, traders, processors, landlords, landless, urban consumers.
Draw a matrix and put each actor at the head of a column and also at the start of a row. For simplicity's sake, here's a matrix with just four of the actors:
|Government policymakers||Agricultural research||Agricultural extension||Farmers|
You can use this matrix to analyse the levels of information flows from each group to the others. For example, information flows much more readily along the diagonal (from policymakers to other policymakers, from farmers to other farmers) than off the diagonal (from, say, farmers to research, or from research to extension).
The types of message are very different in each cell. Researchers talk science to each other; policymakers give directives and funding to extension; farmers exchange news about prices with each other.
The media also differ from cell to cell. Researchers communicate with each other by attending seminars and writing journal articles; they give technical briefings to policymakers; give training courses to extensionists; and conduct surveys or participatory appraisals to find out what farmers think. Farmers chat with each other over the fence or in the market, and attend group meetings with the extensionist (if there is one). A medium appropriate for one communication link (eg, email, video) may well be inappropriate for others.
There are power relationships implicit in the matrix. Communication from more powerful to less powerful groups (from policymakers to research to extension to farmers) is easier than the other way round.
The matrix can also be used to highlight problems and opportunities. Typically, communication problems lie off the diagonal: how can information about technology options be communicated to farmers? How can farmers inform policymakers of their needs and preferences? Some cells are pretty empty: in most countries, extension has very little interaction with private companies--despite the potential for such communication.
New (or changed) institutions or media may help to overcome problems. Rural telephones can overcome the isolation of remote villages, making it possible, for example, for livestock holders to choose the best time to sell their cattle. Email and internet can link intermediary institutions with information sources in faraway places. Privatised extension services may be more responsive to their clients than the top-down state-run ones.
Similar analyses can be done for other sectors: health, enterprises, education, or whatever.
There is a bewildering array of media to choose from. As technology develops, the range is increasing all the time. Some of the media listed below may not yet be available in your area, but may become so in the future.
It is possible to classify media in many different ways. What is important is not the classification, but the ways the various media can be used.
Scan the list below for ideas of media that you can use in your work. Add any media that you could use but which are not listed. Delete those unavailable or not appropriate for your needs.
The most important thing when choosing your media is to ask who is your audience? Think carefully about who you want to reach before choosing the media to use.
|Mass media||Print media||Small media|
|Group media||Narrowcast media||Outdoor media|
|Interpersonal media||Mediated interpersonal media|
Effective communication is vital if development efforts are to succeed. It helps spread new technologies, multiplying the impact of a project many times over. It ensures that a project takes into account the knowledge and wishes of local people — the project partners and clientele. Sharing ideas and experiences is important if the lessons from a project are not to be lost.
Without information on new technologies and market opportunities, the poor in developing countries are being left even further behind. Media can help bridge the gap: they range from simple pamphlets to video, from indigenous communication channels to the Internet. There are many ways to make information available to local people and project staff. These include traditional print and broadcast media, and computers and other new technologies.
Messages must be designed carefully to help people understand easily. Finding the information you need and deciding on an appropriate message can be very difficult. Skilful editing and clear illustrations can clarify complex ideas. Information materials can be produced in different ways, including through intensive writeshops. These approaches can reduce the time needed to produce information, as well as increase the value of the content.
The audience can include farmers, extensionists, scientists, policymakers... and a host of other groups. They are all actors in a knowledge system, each group interacting in various ways with other groups. Each group has its own unique characteristics and needs, so different media and messages may be required.