Thursday, October 25, 2012

Agricultural Education Workshop 2012

The "Workshop on Agricultural Education, Methods, Practices and Technologies" (AgEdWS12) is now over. It took place at Pollenzo, Bra, Italy, on October 25, 2012, right after Green Ideas 2012. The Workshop was attended by about 10 people and consisted of presentations as well as hands-on sessions on several tools. You can find the agenda of the Workshop here, including the presentations of each participant. A detailed description of the workshop is also available through the FAO/AIMS website.

Introduction to the Workshop
Not only I was facilitating the Workshop, introducing each one of the speakers, but I also got to make two presentations, the introduction to the workshop and a presentation about the networks of content providers/the Organic.Edunet network. I was really glad to attend the presentations of Karen Vignare (Michigan State University) on the MetroAg MOOC concept, as well as the one from the FBK team on ontologies and classification schemes used in the educational context. In general, I am pretty satisfied about how the workshop ended, even though the results could be even better if we had more time for the preparations (including our presentations as well!). However, it seems that work was accumulated after my recent trip to Limassol, Cyprus and only limited time was left for adding the final touches for this workshop from my side. You may find photos from the AgEdWS12 Workshop here.

Pollenzo is a beautiful village, consisting of some traditional buildings as well as an archaeological site within the village. The University of Gastronomic Sciences is hosted in a magnificent building that belongs to some centuries ago.

Reaching Pollenzo from Athens was a challenging task, as the route was the following:

1. Suburban railway from home to Athens Airport
2. Flight from Athens to Rome
3. Flight from Rome to Turin
4. Bus from Turin airport to Turin train station
5. Train from Turin to Bra
6. Taxi from Bra to Pollenzo.

It took us more than 7 hours in total, but it deserved it. We arrived at Pollenzo at 19.30 and at 19.45 we had to be at the hotel's lobby to join the rest of the team for dinner, at the excellent Soffitta. The night was short, as presentations had to be revised and emails had to be replied. However, the Workshop on Thursday was better than expected, so I made up for that.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Green Ideas 2012

Green Ideas is always a big celebration for the Agro-Know team (except maybe for the one organizing the event, as (s)he has so many things to take care of, even after the end of the event...)! During the Green Ideas 2011 event, which was held at Mesta, a small traditional village of Chios island, Greece, more than half of the Agro-Know team traveled and actually participated/supported the event.

This year, Green Ideas 2012 takes place at Pollenzo, Bra, Italy and in fact the first day of the event must be over by now. Some of my colleagues have already been there since Sunday or arrived just today. This time I am not participating to the event (even though my Olympus E-300 is already there to grab some photos of the event!), but I will be facilitating the "Workshop on Agricultural Education, Methods, Practices & Technologies", that will take place right after Green Ideas 2012 at the same place. In fact, some of the Green Ideas 2012 participants will also participate in the Workshop.

I will be flying to Turin, Italy on Wednesday and despite the fact that reaching Pollenzo looks like a small adventure, I am really looking forward to go there, meet friends and have a great time during the Workshop!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

VOA3R 6th project meeting and Open Access Workshop

VOA3R Family Photo @ Cyprus
I had the opportunity to visit Cyprus for the first time during October 15-17, for the 6th project meeting of the VOA3R project. In addition, we have worked closely with George Adamides, the local host from Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) and we managed to organize a Workshop on "Open Access and Agricultural Repositories Workshop" right after the meeting, on October 18th, 2012.
The meeting was successful, since there was active participation and long discussions on pending issues, in order to make sure that everything will be on time, just 8 months before the end of the project.

Workshop participants working
on the VOA3R portal
The aim of the Workshop was to bring in touch stakeholders from Cyprus (researchers, students, practitioners etc. in the area of agriculture and agricultural research) in order to create and support a network, as well as to present the tools and services developed by related EU projects, like VOA3R and agINFRA, that could be used in order to facilitate the daily research work of the participants. It was rather successful, as it was attended by about 10 Cypriot stakeholders, mainly (if not all) researchers. I was facilitating the Workshop, making an introductory presentation and introducing each presenter before his presentation, which was really nice since all speakers were colleagues and friends of mine.
Imma Subirats from FAO/AIMS made a long but really interesting presentation about Open Access, which was followed by two case studies of Open Access repositories: The SLU Epsilon repository (presented by Urban Ericsson from SLU) and Organic Eprints (presented by Ilse Rasmussen from ICROFS), both based on Eprints software. Then there was a presentation of the repository tools used in Open Access repositories, like the AgriOcean DSpace (by Dirk Leinders from University of Hasselt) and Eprints (by Alejandro Engelmann from SLU). The following session was a hands-on session on the VOA3R portal, as a networking platform for researchers, practitioners and students in the agricultural context. For collecting the feedback we used both the online questionnaire as well as some additional focused ones provided by the UAH team. After a really interesting lunch break (I really loved the buffet lunch at Atlantica Miramare Hotel!), it was time for another interactive session, supported by the agINFRA project, which included a short presentation of the project and its expected outcomes as well as a discussion during which we tried to identify the needs of the participants as regards the tools, services and infrastructure used, barriers they face regarding the open access to content and other aspects. You may find additional information about the Workshop in my post in the FAO/AIMS website.

In general it was a fruitful workshop and I feel really grateful to the people who got involved in it and dedicated their time in order to prepare and present their presentations. I felt really glad that we had the opportunity to engage some stakeholders from Cyprus in such a discussion about Open Access and repositories and I really enjoyed the related discussions that we had with the brave ones who stayed until the end of the Workshop. I also hope that I will have the opportunity to visit Cyprus again in the near future, as due to the lack of time I did not have the opportunity to go around and see things!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Open Access Week @ AIMS: AK's contribution

I have to admit that this was a really nice surprise: I can see myself at the FAO AIMS (Agricultural Information Management Standards) portal! This is due to a work on our collaboration with ISKME on the Green OER Commons microsite and collection, in the context of the Open Access Week @ AIMS that my colleague Madalina Ungur and me submitted some time ago and was accepted for presentation through a webinar that will take place on 25/10/2012.

Even though I will not be able to attend the webinar (as I will be facilitating the Workshop on Agricultural Education, Methods, Practices and Technologies" (AgEdWS12) on the same day), it was still really nice for me to see my name featured at the FAO AIMS portal. As I am an agronomist myself, I know what FAO means in my research area and I could never even imagine that some years ago, while I was still studying. For us, FAO was something bigger than life, with its huge organization and publications/courses/materials etc. that could be used as a basis for our own assignments & research.

The full description of our work, titled "OER Commons Green: Aggregating Best-in-Class Green Open Educational Resources" can be found here.