The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Lands and Ecosystems (WLE) recently hosted a training workshop on blogging for scientists and science communicators in Nairobi. Beyond the general training, Abby Waldorf aimed to expand participation, readership and writing opportunities for WLE’s Agriculture and Ecosystems Blog.
The Agriculture and Ecosystems blog has grown into a platform for discussion and networking among development professionals, academics and researchers. In 2013, the blog received over 100,000 page views and over 50,000 visitors. Discussions on this blog and LinkedIn have generated over 1,000 comments.
The workshop attracted 51 participants from ILRI, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), African Agriculture Technology Foundation (AATF), International Centre for Tropical Agriculture(CIAT), African Women in Agricultural Research and Development Program(AWARD),African Center for Technology Studies(ACTS), Burness Communications, Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), Impact Africa, Futures Agricultures, Biovision, UNHCR, Somalia, Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture Association in Kenya (MESHA), the Scinnovent Center, the University of Nairobi and freelance science writers.
Abby Waldorf, Agriculture and Ecosystems Blog Coordinator, talked about how blogs can improve access to information, extend the reach of scientific publications, spark discussions and increase dialogue and feedback. She also detailed how to write blog posts, how blogs are used in Africa and how social media can be used to promote blogs.
Paul Karaimu (ILRI) shared some experiences from ILRI scientist Jo Cadilhon whose blog post ‘How blogging about work can improve your professional influence’ shows how blogging positively influences a scientist’s professional career.
Susan Macmillan (ILRI) discussed how to design and extend great content experience while blogging. This was complemented by Tezira Lore who explained how social media can be used to promote blogs. She focused on how readers and bloggers can extend conversations by sharing their thoughts on the social media tools embedded in blog posts. As a writer you have an obligation to respond and continue conversations created by your readers, said Tezira.
The half day meeting was well-received with participants eager to learn more about using social media for impact, managing comments and how to write a blog. Participants also expressed their interest in further networking to share experiences and challenges related to scientific communication.
Resources shared during this workshop include:
- Guidelines for the Agriculture and Ecosystems (AgEco Blog
- Tips for Writing Successful Blog Posts (Burness Institute),
- Writing tips for blockheads (Susan MacMillan/ILRI),
- Powerful presentations: 10 commandments for communications (Susan MacMillan / ILRI),
- How blogging about work can improve your professional influence (Jo Cadilhon / ILRI)
All these materials are available on the ILRIcomms wiki
A similar session was also held at the ILRI campus in Addis Ababa.