These people are benefiting from a new approach to sustainable development education that reaches a much larger audience than traditional methods – and at a fraction of the cost. The initiative, led by a team of extension educators and faculty at the University of Illinois, produces animated educational videos that people around the world can watch at home, over and over again, on their cell phones.
“This is a very different paradigm from some other current development projects, where U.S.-based educators are flown to another part of the world, interact with people in the field for a few weeks to several months, and leave,” said University of Illinois entomology professor Barry Pittendrigh, a member of the team that is developing the animations. “From a financial perspective, this is a much cheaper way to do international development.” (Watch a video about the project.)
The initiative, Scientific Animations Without Borders, takes advantage of the widespread availability of cell phones in the developing world. According to recent research, nearly 60 percent of the 2.4 billion cell phone users in the world live in developing countries.
As of 2006, more than 150 million cell phone users lived in Africa, for example, with cell phone technology spreading faster there than anywhere else in the world.
Animation reduces the costs associated with making a video on a particular topic, and allows the videos themselves to have near-universal appeal. The videos are narrated, and the narration can be recorded in any language with any dialect or accent.
“The way these animated videos are designed, they can be easily adapted to other cultures,” said Julia Bello-Bravo, a University of Illinois field extension specialist and leader of the project. “We are also capturing indigenous knowledge and putting it into the video, so when they see the video it is familiar to them.”
The first animated videos developed by the Illinois team (with funding from the Dry Grain Pulses CRSP - U.S. Agency for International Development and created in collaboration with aid workers and farmers in West Africa) demonstrate safe insect-control methods that are already in use in some regions. The scientifically validated techniques make use of local plants or widely available materials – such as black plastic sheets, ashes, or plastic bags – to control or eradicate insect pests from cowpeas, a staple in many parts of Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.
In one video, a farmer processes the fruits of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) to make a liquid insecticide that he sprays on his cowpea crop. The neem is a drought-tolerant tree found in Southeast Asia and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Farmers working with extension educators in West Africa developed the methods depicted in the video, Bello-Bravo said. Scientific studies had validated the methods and the materials needed were cheap and widely available, she said. But explaining the technique to large numbers of people would be difficult and costly.
“In Mali they are using this technique and it’s very effective, but in Burkina Faso, for example, there are not many people using this technique,” she said. “If we can show these animated videos in different parts of West Africa where this tree grows, we can get the information to many, many more people.”
A newer video demonstrates how to boil or treat water to avoid exposure to cholera. This video is available in English, French, Haitian Creole and other languages.
The process of producing the videos is fairly fast and cheap. Communicating primarily via e-mail, aid workers, farmers, entrepreneurs and an animator collaborate on the videos with the Illinois team. Once the content is approved, the collaborators produce two scripts: one to be read by a narrator and the other describing the actions the animated character is to perform. The animator builds the animation in stages with input from the collaborative team. Once a video is complete, the voice-over narration can be swapped out to match that of a particular country or region.
In this way, the team is building a library of educational videos that can be distributed around the world via e-mail or through the sustainable development website, SusDeViki.
(For more information about SusDeViki, see: “From Llama Herders to Chai Wallas: New Website Will Engage the World.”)
Future videos will touch on other agricultural or health issues, such as bed bugs, lice or malaria, and will target viewers in the developed and developing world.
The team at Illinois also includes extension educator Francisco Seufferheld and entomology department graduate students Tolulope Agunbiade and Laura Steele, with technical assistance from Martin Booth Hodges. The group collaborates most closely with on-site field educators in Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria. The team works with an international cell phone deployment network through Kathleen Robbins. They are also collaborating with Dr. Madhu Viswanathan on animations for marketplace literacy. Daniel Guillot heads the animation team.
Diana Yates | University of Illinois
Equipping form with function
23.06.2017 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria
Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity
23.06.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Life Sciences
23.06.2017 | Information Technology