weADAPT visits the Environmental Change Institute (ECI) at the University of Oxford

Submitted by Michael Rastall | published 12th Jun 2013 | last updated 2nd Sep 2013
51bf09d680d95oxford-skyline 1 - climate adaptation.

On Wednesday 22nd May, 2013, SEI Oxford visited the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford to train the next generation of climate leaders on how to use the weADAPT portal and the MEDIATION Platform for climate change adaptation methods and tools

Following the workshop, I interviewed the facilitators....

Q: Why do you think it is important to participate in events like these?

A: Opportunities to meet with our users face-to-face are highly valued and happen far too rarely! They help us to better visualise our audience, and help the users to better articulate what their needs are. The feedback they provide can help us to improve usability as well as address any functionality requests that they might have. 

For the Mediation Platform in particular, getting feedback at that point in time was hugely important because the system was in its final stages of development, and feedback could be easily implemented. 


Q: What is the Mediation platform and how did the students use the site?

A: An increasing number of methods and tools are being developed to provide answers to adaptation-related questions. The Mediation platform helps to specify the tasks that have to be performed to address climate hazards effectively. It provides access to a Toolbox with methods and tools that are suitable to inform decision-making, dependent on the situation. It does this through the MEDIATION Adaptation Pathfinder. The decision trees in this Task Navigator have been derived from a number of diverse case studies in different parts of Europe.

Some of the rationale for creating this platform was to respond to a perceived tendency for a researcher to pick tools or methods that they were most accustomed to rather than those that are the most suitable. This solution encourages users to think logically and navigate each decision process step by step thus improving the chances of choosing the most suitable tool or method. In summary, the platform allows users to access to information on tools and methods for impacts, vulnerability and adaptation assessment in a systematised way.

It seems that for some of the students, the Mediation Common Platform tool couldn't come soon enough.

We provided case studies for the students to work through, and using the Task Navigator, they chose to assess the same part of the 'adaptation challenge' in the case study and followed the same path to appropriate methods and tools which hopefully gives some insight into the robustness of the system. The students really seemed to enjoy the research activity we set, and presented their findings to us at the end of the day. 

Q: What aspects of weADAPT did the students find exciting?

A: They liked the participatory aspect of weADAPT - the fact that they could quickly register and start sharing some content, which we did hands-on for an hour at the end of the morning session. Above all, I think they valued the opportunity that they may be able to use it as a resource for their dissertation work.

They navigated through the aspects of the site that have been integrated with the Climate Information Portal. In particular they saw huge potential in being able to access historical climate data from stations close to projects the were interested in. 

It was also useful for some of the students who were looking for ways to share their work after the course had finished. weADAPT offers a quick and easy way for that to happen, and I think they were really excited about engaging with the adaptation community in this manner. 

Q: What kind of feedback did you get from the students?

A:  Some users initially felt overwhelmed when presented with the Mediation platform and accordingly some of the feedback that was suggested was to simplify the orientation. However once the students become more accustomed with the case study, and the general concept of the platform, the system felt more intuitive, and in the end it was agreed that the platform was useful for both new and more experienced practitioners and researchers. 

The linked resources from the Mediation platform to weADAPT (e.g. case studies and training modules) were also considered valuable.

The students have created placeholder articles and placemarks for their dissertations which they can return to and complete once they have finished their research.

Q: Will you be doing any more of these hands-on training sessions?

A: We would love to do more hands-on sessions similar to this and plan more next year.

Photo © John Woodworth