Author Archives: iiupe

Lessons Learned: ICT4D

There are numerous lessons that I have learned this semester in our ICT4D class. Yet, the most outstanding lesson for me was the importance of creating an ICT4D tool that is tailored specifically for the community it is working with. I noticed over the semester that there were a number of great ideas for development tools that ultimately failed due to some divide/ miscommunication with the targeted community. I found that when the ICT4D tools were created with a specific group of people or community, there was often a lasting positive outcome. I think that understanding the importance of developing different or altered ICT4D tools for different communities is extremely important for my future international development work. It is easy to believe that one tool will provide aid to a large variety of people, but this does not often hold true in reality. There have been many good attempts at the implementation of various ICT4D tools in many nations, but without the right connection with the community and the people, the development tools are essentially worthless because the people will not continue to adapt and use the tools provided. If developers do not fully understand the community, then how can they really provide a technology that the people will understand, use and enjoy?

I still think the example in the video we watched in class about the various things villagers can do with a tomato is a wonderful depiction of the many different issues in the realm of development. A single tomato can be used in many ways – sold at the market, turned into tomato paste, dried out – and it is important for development groups to look at examples like this and see how to alter development tools in accordance with the community that they are targeting. A village close to the market could sell fresh produce at the market much easier than a village far away. The far away village, however, could be taught how to turn the tomato into tomato paste which would travel easier and provide a variation of the tomato so they would not have to compete with the fresher produce of the close village. Altering development programs is imperative to providing the community with tools that could ultimately produce a lasting change.

I also found certain development programs we studied in class extremely interesting. I really enjoyed looking into the use of ICTs in programs like Ushahidi and ICT4Peace. I think that there should continue to be a strong emphasis on Social Media and the way it can alter the course of an entire nation. This semester the country I researched  was Tunisia. During my research, I came across numerous articles about the use of technology and the progression of the Arab Spring. Technology played an extremely large role in the complete turmoil and reformation of entire nations. I think it would be interesting if the class spent time on modern examples like the Arab Spring that clearly demonstrate the positive and negative aspects of the rapid spread of technology. With a large amount of help from Social Media, countries like Tunisia are becoming democratic after multiple decades under dictatorship.

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ICT4Peace and Humanitarian Aid

ICT4Peace is a humanitarian organization that began in Switzerland. The ICT for Peace Foundation aims to “enhance the performance of the international community in crisis management through the application of Information Communications Technology – technologies that can facilitate effective and sustained communication between peoples, communities and stakeholders involved in crisis management, humanitarian aid and peace-building”. The use of ICT for humanitarian aid is not a new approach, but should be examined more carefully. There are countless benefits that can come from the use of ICT in disaster response, humanitarian aid and peace-building. ICT4Peace has worked with the Ushahidi foundation in the past (http://www.ushahidi.com). One of the more recent projects that the ICT4Peace foundation took part in was in the recent elections in Tunisia. The Arab Spring destroyed the political structure of Tunisia and other Arab nations. Tunisia, like many of these nations, are currently trying to rebuild their government based on a democracy. For a nation that had been under control of a dictatorship for decades, democratic elections are an extremely new concept and can sometimes be scary. The people do not know what to expect; however, in order for a new political body to be formed, the elections must be carried out successfully. The first ever democratic elections for Tunisia took place on October 23, 2011. Wtih the invitation of the Tunisian “Higher Independent Election Committee” and aid from Ushahidi, ICT4Peace created an online monitoring platform for the election called “Carte de Controle du Processus Electorale”. The program used 850 trained reporters throughout Tunisia that reported back to the headquarters giving updates, reports and observations of the progress of the election. The information was verified and placed on a map that all people could access and track the election progress in their area and in the nation as a whole. This program is only one of the many humanitarian projects ICT4Peace has contributed to. The use of ICTs can make the people of a nation feel more comfortable and at ease about change after disaster. The ICT4Peace Foundation is one good example of the proper use of ICTs for humanitarian aid and the impact they can have on the peace-making and rebuilding of a nation.

 

http://ict4peace.org

Election Day Map: http://ict4peace.org/updates/monitoring-tunisias-first-election-ict4peace-foundation-instance-superieure-independante-pour-les-elections


YourTopia

When looking at the development and progress of a nation, it is often difficult to find locate the indicators you are looking for. The Millennium Development Goals has numerous indicators and indices to choose from when measuring the development of a country. The YourTopia application uses a short quiz to assess the development indicators important to you and creates a summary of human development according to your criteria. This application takes away many of the confusing and sometimes unnecessary indicators that take away from the data you are examining. YourTopia uses your criteria to calculate the development of various countries and organizes them according to your standards. The greatest part about YourTopia is that it takes information from numerous sources and removes excess information, allowing the person to focus on exactly what they are looking for. This tool is especially important in the education of development. Students and teachers can more easily focus on the information that they are looking for, which would allow them to gain a good understanding of the issue at hand instead of being distracted by numerous other indicators. The YourTopia application also takes into account that it is becoming vital to look at development on more levels than just economics; rather, all of the sectors contribute to the growth and development of a nation.

Create your own YourTopia, click here.


Social Media: Rebellion, Reform and Conflict Resolution

The Arab Spring began in Tunisia in December 2010. The wave of demonstrations and protests spread quickly throughout the Arab world with the aid of Social Media. Social media became a vehicle for change in the nation led by a dictator. The spread of knowledge through social media, created a wave in which all people of Tunisia began to demand freedom and democracy. The use of social media caused the rebellion to spread rapidly. However, an importance use of social media is for the promotion of peace and crisis management in developing nations. One organization that uses social media as a means of creating peace is the ICT for Peace Foundation. ICT4Peace foundation seeks to use ICTs to bridge the gaps embedded in Tunisian society. The foundation attempts to work in accordance with the WSIS Tunis Declaration, which outlines methods to promote peace and to prevent conflicts by using ICTs for identifying conflict situations by early-warning systems, promoting peaceful resolution, supporting humanitarian action, and assisting post conflict peace-building and reconstruction (http://www.itu.int). During the recent democratic elections in Tunisia – the first in the history of their independence – ICT4Peace worked in accordance with Ushahidi to create a mapping program that followed the progress of the election on Election Day. This use of social media promoted more people to participate in the elections since they could track the participation of other citizens in their area. Additionally, Ushahidi is another good example of an organization that uses social media to promote peace and crisis management. Ushahidi is “a non-profit tech company that develops free and open software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping.”  Providing access of an immense amount of information to the citizens of Tunisia, allows the people to better understand the events taking place in their nation. One Ushahidi user stated that the program has “dramatically changed the face of how individuals and communities can influence democracy and economic development around the world”. Social media plays a large role in the spread of rebellion as well as using it to promote peace, reform and conflict resolution. The use of social media is a powerful method to rapidly spread knowledge to a large group of people.


ICT Education in Rwanda

ICT implementation in schools has the possibility of greatly increasing the educational development of the students. However, the impact of ICT implementation is largely based on the use and participation of the teachers. A program, which builds on the InterActive Education project and works in conjunction with DFID-funded project, aims to develop and evaluate strategies for effective implementation and introduction of ICT support in education. The main focus is on mathematics and science based learning. The program focuses on the building the teachers capacity on the possible uses of ICTs in the classroom. In May 2006, various schools in both rural and urban areas of Rwanda were studied in order to examine the teachers knowledge of ICTs. The study found that in some schools the computers were being used by the students and the teachers were staying after to learn more themselves; however, in many schools the computers were very old and barely ever used. The program created an “interactive and iterative model of teacher development [that] involves a partnership of teachers, teacher educators and researchers working together to evaluate and develop ICT-based scenarios for learning science and mathematics” (Sutherland, 229). By instructing the teachers on how to use spreadsheets, simulations and other teaching tools, they became more equipped at being able to teach the students more in the future. The program seems to provide a successful way of using teachers as a method of ICT introduction into the classroom. It is important to remember that the teachers will not always use the skills they learned in the seminars and that constant communication with the teachers is vital in order for the success of the program. Integrating ICTs in the classroom by educating teachers is one of the best and most efficient ways of guaranteeing the success of ICTs in education. A lot of focus must be placed on the educational development of the teachers so they in turn can teach their students.

For more on the ways the InterActive Education project is helping nations worldwide, click here.


Hole-in-the-Wall Project

Originally posted on Blackboard by Isabella Iupe

http://www.hole-in-the-wall.com/

I found this project extremely interesting because the findings can now be used to change technology development projects in many underdeveloped nations. The project focused on bringing computers to schools and measuring the progress of the children who used computers compared to those who did not use computers. The findings showed that all children can actually learn how to use computers by themselves, independent of their educational background, literacy levels, gender or socio-economic level. They also found that since the learning is not necessarily forced, the children are much more likely to accept it and work collaboratively with one another to learn as much as they can. The study showed that the addition of a computer, without any lessons on how to use them, can improve the educational development of children. Since the study in India in 1999, the findings have been put in use in various developing countries, especially in South Africa.

The website for the says the Hole-in-the-Wall project is lighting the spark of learning. The mission also states “Today’s children need not only basic education, but also the ability to deal with an increasingly complex and connected world. We need to create inclusive educational solutions that address all sections of society and help transform them.”


WHO INARI Research Initiative

I found the WHO program Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI) an extremely interesting approach at dealing with developing ICTs for health. The program was started in 2002 and it provides free or very low-cost online access to numerous major journals in biomedical and related social sciences to institutions in developing countries. The program provides one of the world’s largest collections of biomedical and health initiatives. The fact that this large collection of medical information is available to developing nations is vital for their development in the health sector. Spread of knowledge about health issues and treatments is an important step toward improving the health of an entire country. With access to medical journals sick people are able to attempt to diagnosis themselves and look up possible treatments. This is very important especially in countries that do not have accessible or a large number of doctors or health professionals. With appropriate use, access to medical journals could help cause rapid advances in the health sector of developing nations.

Original Post by Isabella Iupe