ICT4D Lessons Spring 2013

One of the most important lessons that I learned in ICT4D was the need for varied approaches to development. Introduction to technology alone is not enough to spur development, nor should technology simply be an add-on to other development initiatives. Rather, technology needs to be incorporated in a way that makes it a tool to achieve the desired development goal. In order to make this possible, a project team needs people from different perspectives of development (tech, human rights, economics, etc.) to be able to produce a well-rounded and feasible result. In his talk, Wayan Vota said that ICT is ceasing to be its own department in many development agencies. Instead, ICT4D professionals are incorporated into teams with people from other fields as well.  He also said one of the absolute keys to working in the development field is having an open mind. You need to be willing to sacrifice whatever specific ideas you might have for a project if the target community wants to go in a different direction. This, in my opinion, is perhaps the most important thing to remember as someone in the development field. The work is not about the success of a specific personal project, but rather the betterment of lives in the way that the community feels would best achieve their development goals.

Being fairly technologically unconnected for my generation, the use of social media is something that I believe will benefit me later down the road as a development professional. I did not have a Twitter account prior to this class (I made one during the semester), and I believe that knowing how to effectively and appropriately use Twitter, especially in relation to natural disasters and big news stories, is an essential new skill. I had also never blogged before, and frankly didn’t trust blogs as a source of information, but using WordPress has educated me on the world of blogs, which might come in handy again someday. Finally, the OSM crowdsourced mapping exercise equipped me with a very useful knowledge and skill. Learning how to operate JOSM and deal with both software and conflict related troubleshooting was a good experience, and with crowdsourced mapping is on the rise, knowing how it operates is key in the development field.

For me the Human Centered Design was the most useful framework that we discussed this semester. It is specific, so I felt that I gained some real guidelines for actual implementation. It also reiterates the point I made above, that development professionals need to be open-minded and allow the communities ideas shape their own.

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