Lessons Learned: ICT4D

I think one of the most important issues in development is creating projects with realistic and attainable goals that target the root of a problem, rather than providing a temporary solution.  Projects often fail because they propose solutions that are not sustainable and they have unrealistic expectations of the local population’s ability to participate in the program.  Take for example, the different types of cell phones and cell phones chargers that we worked with in class.  The designs didn’t take into account the lifestSchedyles of the audience they were targeting and broke easily.  While in the US we are always developing innovative technology to solve problems, but the newest technologies are often not what is most needed in developing countries. I think understanding the breadth of the Digital Divide is one of the most important concepts in ITC4D because it forces us to focus on attainable technology goals for people who may have never even seen a computer. Programs like One Laptop per Child provide children with laptops that may help them with school work or learning to use computers, but wouldn’t a program that taught people how to use computers or  expanded dependable internet networks across Africa have a more far-reaching and long-lasting impact?

For a development project to be truly sustainable, it needs to solve a problem from its source, and I think that establishing accesible and affordable computer and internet access in a town increases that town’s participation in the global communication more than giving children laptops that may not even connect to the internet. At the same time, it is important to asses the needs of each target population individually and understand that what works for one town may not work for the next. I think that in working with the source of a problem, you are forced to asses focus primarily on the needs of the target population above any other factor because you are attempting to build a foundation for all other development projects.  In working with a target population, recognizing their interests is often the same as looking for a solution to the cause of a problem.

In working on my case study project, I encountered an organization whose mission targets the source of a problem rather than providing a temporary solution. I’ve been working with Schedulist, a company tackling the root of an issue in the heathcare industry in the U.S.  Schedulist is a scheduling and networking platform that increases nurse satisfaction in the workplace by allowing for more flexibility and creating an enviornment of mutual respect in the healthcare industry.  Nurse satisfaction determines nurse turnover rates, which in turn determines quality of health care. Hospitals that are constantly forced to hire and train new nurses are draining their resources and have less experienced staff.  Schedulist is helping to improve the quality of healthcare in the U.S. by targeting a root of the problem- employee morale.  This program is an example of development efforts that create an attainable goal by targeting the source of a problem.

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