The CGIAR was created in 1971. Today more than 8,500 CGIAR scientists and staff are working in over 100 countries, addressing every critical component of the agricultural sector including agroforestry, biodiversity, food, forage and tree crops, pro-environment farming techniques, fisheries, forestry, livestock, food policies, and agricultural research services. Thirteen of the Centres are headquartered in developing countries.
The Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is a strategic alliance of countries, international and regional organizations, and private foundations supporting fifteen international agricultural Centres that work with national agricultural research systems and civil society organizations, including the private sector. The alliance mobilizes agricultural science to reduce poverty, foster human well being, promote agricultural growth, and protect the environment. The CGIAR generates global public goods that are available to all. Its mission is to achieve sustainable food security and reduce poverty in developing countries through scientific research and research-related activities in the fields of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, policy, and environment.
Building and strengthening capacity through training and education activities as implemented by the fifteen CGIAR Centres make an important contribution towards achieving this mission. Most Centres organize short in-service learning events supported by learning resources and also offer individual degree or non-degree learning opportunities. The learning resources developed by the Centres are international public goods and they are available from the individual Centres to a global teaching and learning community interested in agriculture and natural resources management.
Advances in information and communications technology and in distance learning nowadays allow broader access to such dispersed learning resources and in 2004 the CGIAR training community of practice collaborated in a project aimed at sharing their learning resources through the development of a CGIAR learning objects repository. This was done in conjunction with ARIADNE – the Foundation of the European Knowledge Pool and the Commonwealth of Learning (COL). The project is coordinated by three CGIAR Centres: the World Agroforestry Centre (Nairobi, Kenya), the International Potato Centre (CIP, Lima, Peru) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI, Los Baños, Philippines).
The repository, called CG On-line Learning Resources, contains the training and learning resources of the CGIAR in a single searchable environment. The CGIAR replaced the existing ARIADNE metadata with its own application profile that employs the IEEE standard 1484.12.1-2002 for learning object metadata, called CG LOM Core. This application profile incorporates a subset of elements of the IEEE LOM and is mapped to the CGIAR Application Profile for document- objects. This, in turn, is an adaptation of AGRIS of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); it was established in order to ensure the greatest interoperability among organizations that use learning objects. Yet another goal was to produce information about agriculture and natural resources management. Further, the system supports the federated search feature (GLOBE), which integrates federated searches on CGIAR materials into several other repositories, such as Merlot, EdNet, and others. Finally, the SILO implementation of the CGIAR is integrated with an open source learning management system called Moodle. Course developers can easily retrieve materials from the SILO into their courses without leaving the user environment.
To date the majority of the CGIAR Centres have uploaded a number of their training materials and developed some test eLearning events using Moodle. Now that the pilot sites for the repository and learning management system have been developed and can be accessed globally, present and future work focuses on the creation of quality, reusable learning objects that can be used by a global teaching and learning community.