Lessons from ICT: Guidance, not Prescriptions

In development, nothing is clear-cut. Theories and concepts attempt to explain ideal development techniques, but when it comes to implementing a project every decision is situational. With ICT in particular, projects must be tailored for the community where the project will be implemented, but there are lessons to be learned from recurring problems faced by ICT projects. Two of the most notable lessons to be learned in ICT are the choice of appropriate technology and the incorporation of physical community.

Choosing appropriate technology for a project deserves a considerable amount of research and deliberation. The choice will be a significant determinant for whether a project will be successful or not. Often projects will create flashy apps or devices to attract donors, but the practicality of the technology is lacking. We learned that radio is one of the most widely used technologies. However, radio isn’t incorporated in ICT projects as often as newer ICTs. Introducing new technology requires training and funding to provide the new devices. If a community is already familiar with an ICT, then it is best to adapt your project to incorporate that ICT.

Secondly, incorporating physical community is vital. ICT provides an efficient way to share information, but physical community is needed to ensure that the information is used. Support groups should be encouraged so communities can share their experiences with each other and learn together. ICTs should not encourage isolation of individuals, but provide information that communities can use to work and learn together.

Overall, there are many lessons to be learned from previous case studies and these lessons should help make, but not dictate, decisions for future projects.

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