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IMARK is an e-learning initiative in agricultural information management developed by FAO and partner organizations.
photo Communities offer us the power of learning and working together.
By taking this course you will learn about building an online community and:
  • how to assess community member’s needs
  • issues to consider when designing your online community, including required skills, privacy, security and usability, multilingual computing, marketing and training
  • the wide range of technical options and tools
  • tasks, methods and techniques for online facilitation

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Target Audience

This module is targeted at coordinators and facilitators of established or incipient communities, as well as groups of individuals with shared interests in agricultural and rural development. A wide range of potential beneficiaries in both existing communities and potential new communities include:
  • network and community users;
  • moderators of groups and communities;
  • managers, policy makers and decision makers;
  • academic, educational and training centres; and
  • public and private sector agricultural extensionists and rural development facilitators.

Module Content

Unit 1 - Online communities - new opportunities
This unit covers the benefits and opportunities offered by online communities to facilitate knowledge and information exchange, and describes the key factors for a successful online community.

Unit 2 - Understanding needs and assessing opportunities
This unit explains how to conduct a needs analysis for an online community, how to develop a team and define goals, and looks at the technical, financial, institutional and social issues involved in designing an online community.

Unit 3 - Options, choices, tools and applications
This unit illustrates a wide range of interactive tools and applications for building an online community, their strengths and weaknesses, and how they affect and the nature of the community.

Unit 4 - Designing an online community
This unit provides guidelines for the design of an online community including introducing online communication in your organization, the professional roles required, the technical choices to be made, and how to plan for marketing, training and evaluation activities.

Unit 5 - Online facilitation
This unit provides guidelines on how to facilitate an online community and introduces the basic concepts of facilitation, compares traditional and online facilitation, and illustrates a wide range of facilitation tasks and techniques.


Each lesson includes a list of job aids, online resources and additional reading. Learners can consult a glossary specific to the module, and search within the course materials for specific terms. A series of non-proprietary methodological guides are also provided.


The Module curriculum was designed and developed by experts and institutions from an internationally widespread community.

The main contributors and authors are from the following Organizations:
Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Association for Progressive Communications (APC) International Development Research Centre (IDRC) International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
Bellanet International Secretariat Bellanet International Secretariat Summit Collaborative Summit Collaborative
Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) Rockefeller Foundation Rockefeller Foundation
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Full Circle Associates Full Circle Associates

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