I think one of the most salient lessons I learned from ICT4D is that information and communication technology can be used as a tool to expedite process from developing nation to developed, when implemented properly. It is also important to remember that ICT is not necessarily complex, expensive software and programs but can be as basic as a mobile phone. ICTs that provide access to the internet hold vast knowledge and information that, when available to developing nations, holds the potential to educate those that lacks alternative, feasible access to education. ICTs can not only provide knowledge and information, but can be used as a tool for harnessing the knowledge of individuals through crowdsourcing.
Because of this, I think the most useful theoretical framework in ICT4D is the people-centered approach. I’ve discussed this approach in several blog posts and don’t think its importance can be stressed enough. In development, we deal with these complex, vast issues that face such large numbers of people. It is easy to get wrapped up in the statistics and logistics and forget that it is the people we are trying to serve. ICTs can be used to empower individuals and increase their capacity for economic and personal growth. While it is nice to consider the large-scale effects of programs, it important to remember that one empowered individual will create a positive rippling effect throughout the community.
For me, this class reinforced the importance of addressing the needs of a community and their cultural context in IDEV initiatives. The instillation of thousands of laptops to a community is meaningless if the people do not have the knowledge to utilize them or if there exists a cultural blockade that would hinder use. This applies to all development programs. Access, supplies, tools, and money are not enough on their own. At the beginning of the semester, I was a bit scared to take an ICT4D class when I’m technologically stunted. Being forced to use new platforms such as WordPress and Twitter empowered me, in a sense, to begin becoming familiar and utilizing other available platforms.