Community Video Can Build Capacity in Extension

This article was written by Jennifer Cook, Digital Green fellow for eXtension

Digital Green is a global non-profit development organization that empowers smallholder farmers to lift themselves out of poverty by harnessing the collective power of technology and grassroots-level partnerships. They partner with extension actors in developing countries to solve problems like market access, farmer training, and rural nutrition education using digital technology. Digital Green developers build cutting-edge software, such as mobile apps and online data collection and analysis, to benefit farmers worldwide.

Community video approach

One solution offered by Digital Green is the community video approach, using peer learning and human-mediated discussion to help disseminate farming or other skills. In this approach, a community member is trained in video production and facilitation skills. Once trained, videos are produced staring local farmers, on topics needed in the community.

The magic of this approach happens in the dissemination. Local farmers or others come together to watch the video. The new practice or idea is more accepted because it is explained by their peer in the video. The video is paused frequently and a facilitated discussion engages the group, allowing time for the idea to become clear. This solution enables consistent and quality information to reach farmers, many of whom are illiterate, in a cost-effective and scalable manner.

Finally knowledge gained and behavioral changes are collected and maintained on a database called CoCo (Connect online Connect offline). CoCo works well in areas where internet connectivity is a challenge, and enables near real-time data analytics on farmer behavior.

Where might this solution work in the US?

Videos and YouTube are plentiful in the US. The community video solution has created a formula for video production, facilitation, and dissemination of educational material. We are all so busy and many times asked to do more with less. This solution can be a tool to build capacity at scale, as the videos can also be used as training material for extension agents as well as farmers.

Digital Green’s video-enabled approach might work in places where language or cultural differences create a challenge for disseminating new ideas. For example, the community video approach has been proposed to be used to teach refugee farmers about food safety practices at an incubator farm in Northern California.

Interested in working with Digital Green on implementing this solution in your area? Contact Digital Green eXtension fellow Jennifer Cook