Training Course on Marshlands Information Network (MIN) - Summary Report
25 - 26 April 2006
The limited availability of environmental and social information about the Iraqi Marshlands poses a major barrier for those working to rehabilitate the area. Launched in March 2005, the Marshlands Information Network (MIN) seeks to address this barrier through the use of web-based technology. The system uses the EST Information System (ESTIS) framework, developed by UNEP DTIE IETC (UNEP DTIE IETC, 2003). The system, which is available in both Arabic and English, provides stakeholders a platform to share information. The MIN also provides a common point of access to tools for technical management and will allow users to identify solutions, develop common strategies, and establish partnerships.
UNEP-IETC partnered with UNEP-ROWA to organize an intensive two-day training course on ESTIS and the Marshlands Information Network (MIN). The training was held at the Arabian Gulf University (AGU) with support from the Desert and Arid Zones Science Program, AGU College of Graduate Studies. The goal of the ESTIS training was to train participants on how to use the system. The system itself is an innovative, multi-language, e-service, which facilitates the following:
1. Creating and managing websites with technology information
2. Sharing and searching for information across multiple ESTIS web sites
3. Decentralization of the management of information (content can be created and edited by the original authors, wherever their location)
4. Publishing of information by non-web designers (the ESTIS interface is simple yet powerful, similar to MS Word)
5. Consistency of design through the use of customizable templates.
6. Support for multiple languages, including all official UN languages.
7. Replication of information across multiple servers (the closer the server, the faster the information can be accessed)
8. Enhanced reliability of sites (in case of server failure, any other server can be used as a substitute)
The training activity was delivered in English with Arabic support and was designed under the "Train the Trainers" concept. Participants were taught to carry out the following:
Create and manage ESTIS websites on the Internet;
Share and search for information across multiple ESTIS websites;
Appreciate the importance of knowledge management.
By the end of the workshop, each organization had either added to or built a new web site were information related to the marshlands could be shared through the Marshlands Information Network (MIN). Accordingly, participants were required to bring real information (logos, photos, images, documents, etc) from their organization for uploading during the workshop.
Much of the training was in the form of group exercises with one group formed for each expected MIN member site. Initial group activities focused on the basic ESTIS concepts and techniques through instructor-lead exercises. Once mastered, groups then focused on the design and construction of their MIN sites with instructors moving between groups to offer individual advice and assistance.
Participants all largely had some background in information technology and were able to grasp the ESTIS concept easily and either update or add content to their MIN sites. At the end of the training, two new MIN sites had also been created and will be added to the MIN once further content has been added to these sites.