Guidelines for Effective Writing
A trainer is a good communicator. To be effective he/she should write effectively. The guidelines for effective writing are summarised as follows:
- Use of good illustrations
- Active verbs should be used
- Writing should be clear
- Usage of simple language/terms
- emphasise essential points
- Redundancy and repetitions should be avoided
- Terminologies used must be consistent and meaningful
- Unfamiliar words need explanations
- Short words and sentences should be used
- Logical arrangement of points is essential
- It is necessary to use short paragraphs. 3.2 Reasons for Editing a Training Manuscript Among literate people, the trainer needs to review/edit his papers/books. The reasons are to ensure that: • all the facts are correct • there are no grammatical errors or spelling mistakes • the overall message of the text is clear • punctuation marks are used properly • appropriate examples and exercises are used • copyright laws are respected • the design suits the subject, suits the budget and is appealing • there is consistency in the use of various elements of the text • illustrations are suitable, of good quality and relevant to the text • the text is well structured, well written, covers the subject and is of an appropriate length • the information in tables, charts and graphs agrees with the text.
THE INTERNET IN EXTENSION WORK
Meaning and Uses of Internet
Internet refers to Inter-network system. It is a network of networks, linking millions of computers worldwide for communication purposes (Sampath et al., 1998). Internet is a global pool of information and services accessible by means of locally executed interface software. It connects many smaller networks together and allows all the computers to exchange information with each other. To accomplish this, all the computers have to use a common set of rules for communication. These rules are protocols and the internet uses a set of protocols called Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP).
Usefulness of the Internet
(a) Helps browse, through resources of private or public information services that are on the internet.
(b) Communicate in real time with others connected in the Internet.
(c) Exchange of e-mail with millions of people with e-mail addresses.
(d) Search for, retrieve and read literally millions of files stored on computers throughout the world.
(e) Send or receive sound, animation and picture files to and from very distant places.
How the Internet Works
According to Sampath et al. (1998), the content of internet is held by computers known as the “servers”, which are owned by organisations and companies. If a request is made of these servers for the information, they bundle the requested information in small packets with the address where it is to be sent and send them to the nearest connection to the internet. When they arrive at the point, the packets are read by the router and sent down to the address.
The internet is probably the most open network in the world and many internet services are free. Thousands of computers provide facilities that are available to anyone who has Net access. Sometimes, the networks are very restrictive in their service to users and require specific arrangements and passwords for each service. The internet can effectively support extension education systems. It is only required that the learner (the farmer) should develop the following skills and abilities to gather information from internet, synthesise them and draw inferences.
i Basic knowledge of computer
ii Familiarity with multimedia software
iii Familiarity with internet and net surfing software
iv Communication with the resource person
v Storing and retrieving information from internet.
The learning process on internet is interactive and interesting. It is a kind of tele-teaching.
Information and communication technology, national and international information networks, internet expert systems and multimedia learning systems are now used to improve information access to the farmer and extension workers.
Access to information and improved communication is a crucial requirement for sustainable agricultural development (Idu and Obinne, 2009). A timely and systematic transmission of relevant agricultural information from the source via appropriate communication media (channel) to the intended audience (receiver) is important. It is expected that the client’s reactions to the message be passed back to the source for the communication process to be complete.
ICT can achieve information dissemination more effectively than other communication methods in extension. ICT has played a major role in diffusing information to rural communities. Computerised information management can be used to improve the sharing of information. Community-based organisations such as farmer organisations can help facilitate their members’ acquisition of relevant information and skills on application of appropriate technologies using ICT.
In Nigeria today, cellular telephony, satellite connectivity and the internet services as well as cyber cafes are common. These services provide avenues for building on their intrinsic capacity for immediacy and sharing of large volume of information at a minimal cost. A study on University-Based Extension Web Project for Agricultural Research Output, also called Cyber Extension (Idu and Obinne, 2009) has shown how the Web could be utilised to provide research output that can serve the needs of farmers as well as domestic and international extensionists and agroindustrialists. The internet is recommended as the appropriate forum for the educational outreach as a way to cost-effectively reach extension agents, educators and opinion leaders who could then download fact sheets for their clientele (Idu and Obinne, 2009).
Benefits of using ICT include:
a faster and easier access to records and accounts
b help with complex decisions through decision support system
c cheaper running costs in communication and
d rapid access to vast stores of information through the World- Wide Web.
Publications from the Internet can be produced in a downloadable electronic form instead of paper format, allowing access to information, which before now involved a trip to a specialist library in some distant, often inaccessible location.
The application of ICTs in rural areas can help to improve communication, increase active participation in development programming and further the dissemination of information and sharing of knowledge and skills. The impact of modern communication technologies can be found in:
i Capacity to reach a large audience with the use of the Internet.
ii Effective use of training and demonstrations, for community mobilisation, learning and action. Some farmers can connect directly to agricultural research stations through the Internet, by-passing extension agents, while the jobs and roles of extension workers/change agents would be that of facilitation and consultation. Even if every farmer does not have a computer terminal, there are commercial cyber cafes where extension agents would help farmers to make decisions (Idu and Obinne, 2009).
iii ICT can be used for networking among and between key stakeholders.
Using Web-Based Portal to Optimise the Linkage System
A research portal (called Web-Based Online Extension System) is proposed as a bridge between research stations, extensionists and end-users of agrotechnologies. The portal will have a Front-End comprising all the consumers of research results, while the Back-End comprises a database of researches from the research stations, centrally hosted by Agricultural Extension Departments/Units of each Faculty of Agriculture/Research Institute. The agricultural extension units of research institutes would serve as a pivot of research information. The results would be posted to the extension web site. Farmers, extension agents and agro-industrialists would view the net at any local resource centre. The job of the conventional extension agent would be to concentrate on tasks and services where human interaction is essential in helping farmers, individually and in small groups, to diagnose problems, interpret data, and apply knowledge in farm activities. Extension workers will engage farmers (especially illiterate farmers) in the search and packaging of information on demand and interpreting research results. Apart from posting research results to the farmers, the portal has a portfolio that would enable the consumers of research results post their contemporary problems to the research stations through the central database of the web (Idu and Obinne, 2009)
source: NATIONAL OPEN UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA