Leveraging Investments in the Electronic Commons Project


Project started on Aug. 29, 2007 (Completed)

“The Electronic Commons: a community led natural resource knowledge portal” is a project of the Wood Education and Resource Center of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry program. The USDA Forest Service is working with grantees of this program to support the use of advanced communications technologies (e.g. Web pages, videoconferencing, video streaming, chat rooms, etc) to share information and solutions on topics of concern to national forests and their neighboring communities. Of particular interest are projects that link geographically disparate national forest communities in the 32-state eastern hardwood region. The Center for Technology in Government will work with the grantees and the USDA Forest Service to leverage their investment by capturing key lessons learned from the projects funded by this program.

The project activities are designed to both provide guidance to grantees in information technology innovation and to capture the lessons learned by grantees through these projects,. Lessons learned will be presented in a Web-based report..

Scope of Work

The project has three phases. The first is focused on knowledge sharing with the Electronic Commons (EC) grantees. This first phase involves two 2-hour conference call consultations between each project team and CTG staff. Discussions will be used to orient grantees to the lessons learned activity and to sharing information about information technology innovations through the use of CTG’s toolkits and handbooks. In particular, Making Smart IT Choices and Opening Gateways will be shared with grantees during these calls. The second phase will bring members from each of the EC teams together at CTG for a 1.5 day workshop. The primary goal of the workshop will be to identify a set of key lessons learned to share with colleagues engaging in similar efforts. The third phase is the development of a lessons learned document for distribution to relevant communities.

Brief Project Summaries

The objective of this project is to develop an interactive website to educate visitors of the Augusta Springs center. The website will facilitate on-line scheduling and communication with local school groups and enable school groups to prepare volunteers who lead groups through the site. The site also allows approved users (educators, teachers, etc.) to add their own content to the website.

Demonstration of a Community of Practice to Enhance Economic Development
The objective is to develop a community of practice for the NE MN Forest Products Action Team and the regional wood products industry using web-pages, on-line plant visit reporting forms, web-based seminars, chat rooms, e-newsletters, and archives as tools to accomplish sustainable economic development of the wood products industry in NE MN.

Web-based Learning and Technology Transfer of Inspection Methods for Historic Wood Structures
The objective of this project is to develop a community of practice for the historic inspection of wood structures using web pages, web-based seminars, video-streaming, chat rooms, e-newsletters, a marketplace and archives to provide direct assistance to owners of historic wood structures enabling better inspections, maintenance and safety of these structures.

Native Plants Learning Network: Propagating restoration through technology
The objective of this project is to develop a multimedia online learning network focused on native plant conservation and restoration. The goal is to maximize relevant information sharing while minimizing time and travel by using interactive information technology such as video-conferences, web sites and web chats.

Cooperative Weed Management Area Training for Eastern United States Midwest Invasive Plant Network
The objective of this project is to develop informational and training materials to be used for remote CWMA training workshops in Eastern US through 2 on-line training sessions and one teleconference.

Promise of Place Interactive Website
The objective of this project is to develop an interactive website, Promise of Place, that will serve as a forum for sharing curriculum, best practices and other information regarding place-based education models that address natural resource related issues in the northeast.

Forest Resources and Ecology: A Distance Education Network Model
The primary objective of this project is to develop an interactive educational program using the ITV technology for 7 Nicolet Distance Education Network (NDEN) school districts to inform teachers, students and parents about the issues facing the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Its goal is to prepare students and teachers for hands-on conservation education projects that will develop their skills to address forest issues and to allow them to share their knowledge and lessons learned through ITV and NDEN website.

Sustaining White-tailed Deer and Forests: An Electronic Resource Center
A year-long effort to develop and market a single web site that would help communities around national forests facing deer overabundance to carry on informed dialog and develop solutions.

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Funding Sources

This project is funded by the Northern Initiatives on behalf of the United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.