Well designed participatory, collaborative and social learning processes
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Trialling a web-based 'Discussion-Support' Tool in the Australian Sugar Industry: Stakeholder Responses are Encouraging ...

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Well designed participatory learning processes focussing on stakeholder discussions can lead to significant learning, skill development and decision-making outcomes. This research trials and evaluates a discussion support tool (Second Life machinima) that could be used in a range of situations, without technical experts physically present in a discussion. The prototype machinima discussion focuses on managing climate risk in the Australian sugar industry. Web-based simulated discussion approaches may provide an alternative information delivery method in an extension environment where funding and policy support is declining and access to high speed internet is increasing globally. Seventeen semi-structured interviews were conducted with canefarmers (7), extension officers (6) and canegrowers organisation representatives (4). Data collected evaluated the machinima, identified climate information delivery needs and collected demographic information. Comments were coded thematically and interviewees rated the value of the tool in 'supporting canefarmers to take some action, small or large, in relation to the information presented'. First impressions of the machinima were positive except for two interviewees who would have preferred the use of real people rather than animated characters. Most interviewees identified readily with the characters and settings depicted in the machinima, and related the animation to a canefarmer shed meeting. Key messages identified were consistent with the informational objectives of the script developed for the machinima. Mean ratings for the value of the tool varied between stakeholder groups: Farmers 6.9; Extension Officers 7.2; Canegrowers organisation 6.4 (1 - low value to 10 - high value). The machinima message could be improved by targeting farmers who have a higher level of understanding of climate and production risk rather than those with a limited understanding. Improving the machinima graphics would significantly improve the visual appeal for viewers. Key learnings include: 1. Comments across stakeholder groups indicate that machinima could be useful to support discussion of climate risk as well as other industry issues. 2. Developing scripts appropriate to the target topics for discussion is critical in ensuring audience engagement with the machinima. 3. Developing a seamless link between current climate forecasts and discussions about specific decisions remains a technical challenge.

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Trialling a web-based 'Discussion-Support' Tool in the Australian Sugar Industry: Stakeholder Responses are Encouraging ...

  1. 1. Well designed participatory, collaborative and social learning processes which focus on supporting stakeholder discussions and conversations can lead to significant awareness raising, learning, skill development and decision making outcomes. This research trials and evaluates a discussion support tool (web based animated Second Life machinima conversations) that could be used in a range of situations and are accessible in remote environments, without the need for technical experts or other service providers to be physically present in a discussion. Discussions in this project focus on managing climate risk in the Australian sugar industry but could be modified to address other farm management issues. Web-based simulated discussion approaches may provide an alternative delivery method for information and tools in agriculture in an extension environment were funding and policy support appears to be declining and access to higher speed internet is increasing globally. TRIALLING A WEB-BASED ‘DISCUSSION-SUPPORT’ TOOL IN THE AUSTRALIAN SUGAR INDUSTRY: STAKEHOLDER RESPONSES ARE ENCOURAGING… University of Southern Queensland in partnership with the Australian National University and the University of South Australia. Supported by the Digital Futures (CRN) Project funded through the Australian Government's Collaborative Research Networks program. Project Background Project contact: • Mr Neil Cliffe, Australian Centre for Sustainable Catchments, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba Q4350 AUSTRALIA | Ph: +61 418 193 687 | Email: neil.cliffe@usq.edu.au Neil Cliffe, Dr Roger Stone, Dr Jeff Coutts, Dr Shahbaz Mushtaq, Dr Kathryn Reardon-Smith, and the Project 3 Team. How effective are digital animations as a medium to promote discussion about climate and risk management information in groups of Australian canefarmers? How effective in influencing the way Australian canefarmers access and use climate forecast information are simulated farmer discussions within digital animations?  Increased accessibility of information to individual farmers and farmer groups within a novel delivery platform;  Accessibility of information to extension staff who could use the product to support their own extension activities with farmer groups;  Improved cost effectiveness of information delivery;  Delivery and communication of complex information in a context that users and user groups can apply to their own individual situations;  Improved management of climate risk in the sugar industry leading to higher productivity and profitability. Potential benefits from using machinima… Key Issues to date… 1. All stakeholder groups indicated that machinima could be a useful tool to support discussion in the context of climate risk as well as other topical industry issues. First impressions: typical farmer conversation; realistic scenario; choppy graphics; well put together; starts people thinking about risk; prefer real actors Farmer, Extension Officer & Industry Organisation Quotes Characters: very accurate; good cross section; too clean, shiny and young Setting: looked like a cane farm; standard shed meeting; appropriate for audience Key messages: planning; too basic; discussion of decisions; seasonal forecasting and probabilities Appeal in conveying messages: good for prompting and helping discussion; good medium to get message across; useful for other topics; very innovative Mean rating of value (1 = low value and 10 = high value): Farmers: 6.9 (N = 7); Extension Officers: 7.2 (N = 6); Canegrowers Org: 6.4 (N = 4) Research Questions…??? 2. Developing scripts which are appropriate to the target topics for discussion is critical in ensuring an audience engages with the machinima discussion. 3. Developing a seamless link between the current climate forecasts and discussions about specific farm management decisions remains a technical challenge.

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