Lessons Learned: Conscious Considerations and Data

The biggest takeaway from our ICT4D class this semester is that contemplating the various outcomes of an initial development idea is crucial. I hate to quote one laptop per child because this is an overused case, but my understanding of how one should approach ICT4D really came out of our class regarding this policy. It is easy to come up with a seemingly positive project that involves ICT but when it is put into practice many complications arise that should have been considered in the early development phase. First of all, you need to examine who is implementing the plan. Just because ICT projects truly do need computer science professionals in the development phase does not mean that we should discount the necessity of development professionals in similar if not more represented numbers. We also must continuously consider all the possible problems that could arise by giving populations access to technology. This is most specifically linked to hardware. We really touched on many of these problems such as waste, charging availability, and repairs. By giving developing countries this hardware, myriad potential problems come along. I am not arguing that we should therefore abandon any projecting involving ICT (that would be impossible in our current climate) but that we put a lot more focus into developing these projects that address these sometimes forgotten aspects. Once we come up with reasonable solutions to these problems then bigger projects can have more success. You can’t jump all in without paying attention to these small but necessary factors.

Another important lesson I learned relates to data. This has been something interesting to me for years considering my Political Science background. Data is taken for word way too often. In order to understand whether the information we are relying on is actually useful or correct we need to examine the sources, dates, motivations, etc. (the list goes on). Data drives the need for development projects, so shouldn’t we know exactly what we are relying on? This is something we covered right off the bat in our ICT4D course. We looked through various reports and broke them down to see what might be missing or how it might just not hit the mark. i think this is critical before exalting some opinion or diving into a project without fully understanding the foundation.

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