On October 7th, 2011, the first day of a training in web 2.0 tools was jointly hosted by RTN, and the Rwanda Ministry of Agriculture with the support of CTA. The participants were drawn from diverse backgrounds namely government insitutions,civil society organisations and Telecentres.
In fact the training is primarily intended as a training of trainers, so the one unifying thread among the participants is that they were selected for their ability and willingness to share what they learn with others. Those in attendance had an opportunity at the beginning to share their hopes and expectations for the week. Although they work in different fields, most of their expectations revolved around learning more about social media tools and sharing their knowledge to benefit others-- whether in the public at large, in their businesses, or in the government.
The focus of the training is familiarity with Web 2.0, or interactive online technologies. As Nicholas Kimolo, one of the trainers, pointed out, Africa currently accounts for only four percent of online content, with South Africa contributing fully half of that. However, African entrepreneurs and businesspeople are taking on greater prominence. As African infrastructure increases and prices for its use become lower, they are poised, after receiving trainings such as this, to make proportionally greater contributions.
Day 1 introduced the theoretical framework of web 2.0. The focus of ICTs training is not on web technologies in and of themselves, but about the people using them. Due to the inter-connectedness of the web and the volume of copyleft, or open source technology and information, internet users can readily draw on the work of others to make their own contributions, rather than starting from scratch. Participants also were informed on the accompanying risks of such technologies, including privacy risks stemming from posting material online, as well as quality assurance-- copyleft information sources such as Wikipedia are very helpful, but since anyone can post information, it may be less reliable than other sources, and researchers need a sense of discernment to use them well.
After the introduction, subjects covered were search engines and directories, Google news alerts, and RSS feeds. The common theme was finding information online-- in the case of search engines and directories, by searching for it, and in the case of alerts and RSS feeds, by setting programs so that it is automatically received. This was the basis for future lessons, since if participants are to contribute online material, they must first have the understanding and knowledge to do so.
Midway through the day, those in attendance were given the opportunity to write comments and suggestions related to the training, and they were shared at the end of the session on democracy wall. This is to be done throughout the week, and it reflects the spirit of the training. Participants are to train others, so sharing feedback with each other is a logical beginning. Feedback was positive overall, with some desire for more concrete information being expressed. Since the training will provide increasingly technical information in the days to come, this should be satisfied.