Friday, 27 July 2012



The Information Management Resource Kit (IMARK) has been developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in partnership with other agencies and institutions with the common goal of strengthening information management and exchange in agencies, institutions and networks world-wide, allowing them to work together more effectively.

IMARK comprises of a series of e-learning modules and the 6th one being “Web 2.0 and Social Media for Development”. This course provides an overview of the basic concepts behind Web 2.0, social media, user generated content and social networking.

Structure & Workload

The total curriculum consists of 11 lessons, grouped into two units:


Lesson 1.1: Introduction to Web 2.0 and Social Media

Lesson 1.2: Social Networking Sites and Communities

Lesson 1.3: Privacy, Intellectual Property and access to Social media

Lesson 1.4: Current Issues and New Ideas


Lesson 2.1: Group Productivity and Collaboration Tools

Lesson 2.2: Hosted Services

Lesson 2.3: Subscriptions, Feeds and Syndication

Lesson 2.4: Tagging and Social Bookmarking

Lesson 2.5: Blogging and Microblogging

Lesson 2.6: Online Video and Image Sharing

Lesson 2.7: Podcasting and Online Radio

Each lesson achieves a specific set of learning objectives, using interactive step-by-step instructions and exercises which help reinforce what is being taught.

Contributing Organisations

The course curriculum was designed and developed by experts and institutions from an internationally widespread community. The main contributors and authors are from the following Organizations:

Authors, expert reviewers and contributors for this course include the following individuals:

Authors: Lena Zuniga, Nancy White

Reviewers: Gauri Salokhe, Nancy White

Instructional Designer: Fabiola Franco

Courseware Development Team: Dominica Baniak, Peter Bruggeling, Vittoria Gliddon Ercolani, Massimiliano Martino

System Requirements


A personal computer with: Pentium I or equivalent processor; 64 Mb RAM (128 Mb is strongly recommended), and 800x600 screen resolution with 16-bit colour depth.


Windows 98 or above; Acrobat PDF reader version 4.0 or later; and Mozilla Firefox 1.0 or later, Netscape version 4.0 or later, or Internet Explorer version 4.0 or later. 


Unit 1: Social Media for Development 

  Lesson 1.1: Introduction to Web 2.0 & Social Media

Since web technology started to transform from complex coding to relatively simple and easy to use web-based tools for user-generated content and information publishing, it has become easier to connect, interact and collaborate with more people online and build up social networks.

These tools are often called “social media” which helps us to work in 4 broad areas:
  • Connect and interact with other people or groups via social networks;
  • Collaborate and do things with other people even remotely;
  • Create and share content; and
  • Find, use, organise and reuse content. 


Lesson 1.2: Social Networking Sites & Communities

While social media allow members to create multiple connections to others, communicate with other people and easily create and share information, a specific sub-group has been derived from social media and this sub-group concerns the social networking tools which allow people to create profiles, search for people with similar interests and interact. Communities are thus formed when a group of people find and connect to each other and continue to interact over time.

Social networking sites e.g. MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, enable users to create public profiles within a Web site and form relationships with other users who access their profile information. Interactions occur via chat rooms, message boards, blogs, video, file sharing, email messages etc.

Lesson 1.3: Privacy, Intellectual Property & Access to Social Media

Social media, though advantageous in many ways including enhanced communication, easy content creation and distribution and wide variety of information accessed, poses some issues and challenges around its usage: 
  • privacy and security of data and information
  • intellectual property rights and its legal and technical implications
Software and content on the web have 3 main conditions/models under which they are licensed: public domain, Creative Common licenses, Free/Open Source Software.

Not all information found on the web is reliable, since much of the content has been authored by people who are interested in a topic, but who may not have done a lot of research or fact checking.

Access to hardware and media devices, and broadband connectivity are important for suitable use of Web 2.0 tools and social networking sites.

Lesson 1.4: Current Issues and New Ideas

Social media services and how they work are evolving rapidly on the web. New tools and technology and new uses and features of social media are being discovered.

Current examples include the adaptation by social media sites for mobile use, adding geographical information through Geotagging and creating data maps, facilitating collaborative translation and broadcasting of content through appropriate interfaces and functionality to other parts of the world.

Web 3.0 is at our doorstep already, and is characterized by its ease to use, it being more integrated with the real world, more intuitive and “smarter” in order to accommodate the users’ needs; and also networks will be directly controlled by users using simple devices and accessible technology.



Lesson 2.1: Group Productivity and Collaboration Tools

Besides being the place for accessing information and resources, web 2.0 also allows enhanced collaboration and communication from simple one-to-one email to advanced tools for working in distributed groups.

Groupware are social media software applications that facilitate the interactions of working groups in order to foster group collaboration and make processes more efficient and productive. Members have more options to obtain, change and share knowledge within the group, especially remotely. Groupware involves communication, conferencing and collaboration.

The different tools include e-mail (for one-to-one communication, or your users with connectivity), e-Newsletters (using listserv software), blogs and micro blogs (allow sharing, accessing and easily updating information), photo and video sharing, podcasting, wikis (versatile collaboration tool for creating and editing documents and documenting, amongst others), Instant Messaging (IM) applications which allow text messaging, but also video and voice conversations. VoIP applications and services allow users to make high quality, low cost calls over the internet.

Contact databases and Customer Relationship Management allow, amongst others, a shared source for your contacts with different levels of complexity and security.

Project management tools include software for scheduling, managing budget and resources, etc. and these tools can help support your distributed projects.


Lesson 2.2: Hosted Services

“Services” refers to existing websites that offer the tools (software) and often hosts them on their own servers. We don’t necessarily have our own web server to use the tools. Hosted services have different advantages and challenges.

Some important tips before/while using Hosted Services:
  • Evaluate the tools you need according to your project and organizational requirements.
  • Make sure you know the terms of service and license clauses of the tools you decide to use.
  • Use the Internet and other specific resources to locate the best tools to meet your needs.
  • You can combine the use of different social media tools to create an online communication strategy that integrates the strengths of different tools according to the objectives of your project or organization.


Lesson 2.3: Subscriptions, Feeds and Syndication

Receiving and reviewing information in a more efficient way and keeping up with the huge exposure to information without visiting each web site individually on a regular basis is possible by subscribing to content feeds. When we subscribe to RSS or XML feeds on most web 2.0 websites, the contents will reach us in a single place on our computer through a feed reader. RSS, XML and Atom are similar technologies. 
The process of generating these automated updates is called Syndication.

Feed readers are web or desktop applications that allow you to easily add, read and organize subscriptions. Feed readers present users and content creators with many advantages in terms of information control, format flexibility and reaching an audience.

Feed readers provide users with many advantages:
  • get the latest information on your computer, as soon as it generates on the web;
  • get content from diverse sources all in one place, so you don’t have to visit multiple websites to check for something new or to read that new content;
  • have more control of what information you want to receive, since you manage specific feed subscriptions;
  • can keep control of what you've already read, save copies of interesting content and clippings for archive and research;
  • if you use a web based feed reader, you can have a public profile that allows others to see your subscriptions and share them;
  • Furthermore, many readers provide the option to e-mail content and news items to other people with the option “e-mail this”. They also provide options to post the content to your own blog or add it to a social bookmarking service such as Delicious.

Lesson 2.4: Tagging and Social Bookmarking

Often, specific data and resources are hard to obtain when faced to the vast amount of information available on the Internet. Describing the resources we find and save them later is a more efficient way of searching instead of only exploring and researching. We could share them with others and help them find what they need.

Metadata are found in electronic data and are small pieces of code to describe the characteristics or content of a particular file.

Tagging means human indexing of material on the Web, in order to make it easier to find and share. An item can be "tagged" by associating it with key words that describe its content. Tagging can provide content with context and meaning.
  • fixed tags: pre-defined sets of words to categorize content in a more consistent way.
  • free tags: allow users to use any word they want to describe the content and context of an information resource; this allows others to describe contents in their own words

In many cases, it is possible to combine fixed and free tagging. A folksonomy is a collaborative categorization of content using freely chosen keywords. It is not formal, nor is it ever complete. It changes as the tags change.

Social bookmarking is one of the ways in which users on the web use tagging to share and aggregate their knowledge using the collective web browsing and tagging that thousands of people do every day.

Some of the advantages of using social bookmarking:
  • Saving web addresses to visit later
  • Tagging and describing content to make it easier to find
  • Sharing your bookmarks with others in your group
  • Tags help us locate and describe content on the web

There are different ways in which sites and services allow you to visualize the aggregated tags that you and other users have created. are as follows:
  • Tag combinations - Used to create relationships between one tag and another related tag, such as “winter” and “cold”, combining both terms for better results
  • Tag Searches - Allows users to find what they're looking for, based on the tags others have used to describe content
  • Graphics - Used to graphically display the use of tags over time, by number of appearances or number of people using them
  • Tag Clouds - Allows users to see all or almost all the tags that people are using, the bigger or bolder the word, the more frequent it is
  • Aggregated lists - Used to display a simple list of tags, with numbers indicating which ones have been used the most

Lesson 2.5: Blogging and Microblogging

A weblog or Blog is a dynamic web page easily created, published and frequently updated and maintained usually with posting of text, links to other sites, images or multimedia in chronological order with the newest content at the top of the page. A blog encourages interaction with its contents through comments which can be posted by the general public.

Blogging tools are some of the most accessible and easiest to use of these tools. This allows people to have visibility and a presence on the web.

Blogosphere” describes blogs as a diverse, decentralized social network, supported by hypertext links and aggregation tools that establish relationships between blogs. It is because of these links that messages are spread and sometimes massively disseminated.

Blogs can be created online through web companies that offer this service on their servers, by creating a user account. Blogs can also be created on our own server through installation of a content management system (CMS).

Microblogging is a more recent form of blogging. It allows the user to post short text updates via web browser, instant message, email or mobile text messaging. These short updates let others know of your “status” at the time.

Twitter is one of the most popular microblogging services and many others have followed its lead. Once you create an account, it allows you to post updates of 140 characters. It has many uses, including:
  • supporting communities of practice;
  • augmenting workplace and classroom learning;
  • reporting live from events and many other uses.
Microblogging services, like many social media services, make capabilities of their tools available to developers of other sites.

In this way, other people can develop applications that use Twitter or Jaiku data and make "mash ups" (combinations between data and functions from different web services), mixing the microblogging data with other data sets such as geographic location, photos etc. Other microblogging services include Twitpic and WordPress.

Lesson 2.6: Online Video and Image Sharing

Digital images and video are advantageous as they can be easily transferred to a computer, edited with basic software and shared in different formats, sizes and levels of quality.

The advantage of online photo or image sharing is that it allows users to:
  • easily upload digital images to the web;
  • add titles, descriptions and tags; and
  • organize them in albums, groups or clusters according to their preferences.

Images are hosted by image hosting services that may include other features, from sharing photos with friends to printing and getting prints delivered by mail for a fee, e.g. Flickr, Picasa, Picnik.

Web video (video in digital format, transmitted over the Internet) is popular partly due to video hosting services such as YouTube,, Vimeo, Seesmic and others, which automatically take care about compression formats compatibility with different players or server bandwidth while uploading short videos.

Lesson 2.7: Podcasting and Online Radio

Podcasting means distributing audio files over the internet to access by users who subscribe to and download them. Podcasters produce audio files very easily using a digital recorder device or a microphone connected to a computer. Most podcast formats allow you to transfer the file to affordable portable devices such as mp3 players, which can also be used for recording. Podcasting is a useful tool for people to share information both online on the net and offline by copying the podcasts on to CDs.

The audio files used in podcasting can also be made available on the web in a form known as “streaming internet radio”. Unlike podcasting, streaming media are transmitted over the Internet and delivered at the same time to the listeners.

Important considerations when producing a podcast:
  • It is important to include variety in the format of your program (include interviews, clips, introductions, music etc.)
  • The final product should be in a file format that is accessible for most of your listeners, including those with low bandwidth.
  • Make sure you provide enough information about the program: description, duration, name of the people you interview, notes etc. 

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