When I initially signed up for this class, I had no idea what to expect. I had never viewed development in the context of technology. I did not dismiss the significance technology could play in everything-“development,” from building resilient communities to poverty alleviation, I just tended to divorce technology from the underlying solutions to many of the world’s problems or put it on the so-called “back-burner.”
It also seemed to me that Information and Communication Technology for Development or as we labeled it ICT4D is such a broad topic that it would be impossible to cover it over the course of one semester. And it was. What I gained, however, was a well-designed and concise overlook at all the most prominent topics in the field and the most popular models and approaches. I learned the indispensable use of radio in the most remote of places, and I learned the step-by-step of designing the most human-sensitive models to development (AKA Human-Centered Design model). Surely, this knowledge will help me in any development project I tend to pursue in the future.
I was introduced to technology that I was not well versed in before such as Open Street Mapping and Twitter (and in terms of JOSM or crowd sourced mapping, not well-versed is putting it lightly. I had absolutely NO idea what I was doing.” I realized that a non-proficient use of many of the technology we were introduced to including simply maintaining a blog would inhibit any progress in becoming development professionals or working in most development situations.
Information and Communication technology are becoming every-increasingly integrated into our society. Put it simply, it has undeniably become the lifeline of our society, the fabric that connects all the sectors and all the individuals working within them. It is no longer a question whether we should employ it, but rather how can we most effectively do so? And in this class, the notion I already held for a long time, was constantly reenforced. It could only be done in a manner that is very sensitive to and well–informed about the communities for which the technology is introduced.
I learned that ICTs have the power to spark revolutions, promote the most basic human dignities, empower a wide range of individuals from women to farmers, and mitigate the most devastating of disasters. I also learned that they have the power to rapidly spread false information or be dangerously misused in many ways. The most important thing I learned was that I know nothing close to all I should know in the field, and that I have to orient myself with all the countless emerging technologies and applications being created every day.