Cutting-edge Learning Resources

CEC member Andrea Deri, an independent consultant, recommends two cutting-edge learning resources that are free of charge and directly relevant to IUCN goals. See the Ecosystem-based Management Tools Network and a knowledge management and communication software tool called Compendium.

EBM Tool Network Photo: EBM

CEC Members are known for their passion for learning and their dedication to making sense of complex conservation issues. This commitment is apparent by their constant scanning the proverbial horizon for three kinds of resources: 

  • emerging new content
  • user-friendly tools to make sense of fast accumulating diverse set of data, notes, files, etc.
  • creative approaches to communicate the resulting ideas

I recommend here two cutting-edge free of charge learning resources that would appeal to this quest: (i) the Ecosystem-based Management (EBM) Tools Network, an unfailing source of new content, and (ii) the ‘Compendium’, a knowledge management and communication software tool.  Both are designed to help finding connections among often far-fetched ideas, issues and observations; both inspire critical thinking, experimentation and both have the quality of giving learners the ‘buzz’ of discovery, being at cutting-edge.

Ecosystem-Based Management Tools Network

Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) Tools Network is a global alliance of some 50 organisations - EBM tool researchers, providers, and users - to develop and raise awareness about EBM tools and facilitate their use. The EBM Tools Network is a good example of a ‘boundary organization’: it works at the boundary of science, policy-making and practice and facilitates the communication among them. Boundary organizations play significant role in providing adaptive solutions for complex problems, like most of the problems we face in conservation, biodiversity or other natural resource management or increasing the resilience of stressed social-ecological systems.

The EBM Tools Network offers an impressive searchable tools database, case studies, news, and trainings. It is, however the regular webinars that would be most attractive to CEC Members. These one-hour webinars demonstrate selected EBM tools employing cutting edge technology. The webinars are divided into two parts. The first part gives learners the chance to listen to the presenters, follow the slides, animations, screen-casts, etc. and drop questions for the discussion in the second part.  Mirroring the ‘boundary’ nature of EBM Tools Network, learners – and their questions - represent a diverse group of stakeholders ranging from research students, educators to protected area managers from all over the world.

Even if your work is not directly related to EBM, these webinars give you the sense of the latest and greatest approaches tested in real conservation projects, and offer you the opportunity of exploring the role of educators, sensu lato, in contributing to the successful implementation of EBM tools.

You can view past demonstrations and register for upcoming webinars including: 

  • 10 March: Marine Integrated Decision Analysis System (MIDAS)
  • 25 March: Coastal Web Atlas Interoperability Prototype
  • 6 April: Making Maps with Google Earth and Google Maps
  • 3 May: Marine Map Decision Support Tool 


Compendium is a knowledge management software tool. Like other mind- (or concept-) mapping tools it helps learners visualise the relationship among ideas and related information with the conscious intention to create new knowledge. This sense-making process helps clarifying ideas, analyse and solve problems in individual and/or team setting. Compendium is a hypermedia tool: you can create a multi-media map by dragging and dropping information created in other software (e.g. .xls; .doc; .ppt; .html etc) into your Compendium-map, as well as you can use hyper-text (e.g. tagging, hyperlinking) for quick analysis and navigation.

The key advantages of Compendium compared to other mind-mapping tools are its ‘transclusion’ and ‘affordance’ (Selvin, Shum 2005). ‘Transclusion’ means that you can include an idea in many maps (‘trans’: crossing the boundaries between maps) and if you make any changes to that idea in any of those maps, the idea will be modified synchronously in all maps.  Affordance refers to its ‘intuitiveness’, to the extent of how easy it is to figure out the possible actions the learner can use in the interaction with this software.

CEC Members may want to use Compendium for creating learning journeys; non-linear note taking; processing ideas during literature review which often requires bringing together ideas from various sources; documenting an argumentative or creative process (e.g. argument – and dialogue maps); designing new processes and products; or use Compendium as a presentation or web-publishing tool among many other applications EpoCH is an example of using Compendium for designing learning materials.

Compendium is an open source software developed by Verizon and The Open University. Download >


Selvin, A.M. and Buckingham Shum, S.J. (2005). Hypermedia as a Productivity Tool for Doctoral Research. New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, 11 (1), 91-101

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