Author Archives: paigewolff

ICT4D Professional Profile: Noble Kelly

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“You don’t need our permission to make a difference. It’s up to you!” -EBB

Noble Kelly is a thought leader in the ICT4D sector of education who has done extensive work in Canada and Africa.  Kelly entered the education field in 1991 as a high school teacher and later earned a post-baccalaureate degree in Education Technology.  Over time, he has become increasingly involved in advocacy, policy development and capacity-building, which is reflected in his non-profit NGO called Education Beyond Borders (EBB).

EBB, founded in 2007, sets out to close the achievement gap “…through teacher professional development and community education,” focusing on “…self-reliance, health, and capacity.”  According to EBB, “If the key to economic development and our young people’s future is education, then teachers should have resources, tools, and access to the Internet, as well as each other.”  Well aware that “Information and communication technologies are drivers of globalization and hold enormous potential for access to free content and the training of in-demand skills, but their rapid development runs the risk of further widening the digital divide as developing regions struggle to get connected,” Kelly ensures that his organization strives to avoid the latter situation.  Kelly’s appreciation for ICTs is also evidenced by his praise of the use of mobile technologies “…to support the work that we are doing in the field,” as “Isolation can be a huge detriment, or a huge obstacle, to much of our work.”

Though Kelly is busy with EBB, he has also been a teacher trainer and mentor through the Teaching and Learning in an Information Technological Environment Post Baccalaureate Program at Simon Fraser University.  Additionally, as a “….member of the Peace and Global Education action group for the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation…” he has been active in policy development, workshop leadership and advocacy for universal safe and inclusive schools.  Internationally, Kelly has worked on capacity-building and development initiatives in South Africa, as well as on “…education reform, teacher professional development and appropriate use and integration of ICT to engage learners within a cultural/local context,” in Ethiopia, Guyana, Tanzania, and Kenya.

To learn more about Kelly, follow him!

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Cyber Invasion

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0GmwMl8FIY (VIDEO REMOVED)

Any fan of The Office is familiar with Michael Scott’s pollyanna demeanor, as evidenced in the first 15 seconds of this clip pertaining to e-mail scamming. A major discomfort with modern cyber-hacking is that people are often unaware that their information is shared and exposed to others whom they did not directly designate access. While e-mail scams have been around for years, and many people have learned to “know one when they see one,” today’s information sharing through ICTs is increasingly less obvious–and thus more alarming. As reported by the New York Times, companies that fall victim to a hack are hesitant to report the situation out of fear of losing face. Check out the following article to see how several nations have addressed cyber-crime and why extensive awareness is necessary. As Chief Inspector Eric Loermans asserted, “There’s no crime anymore where there are no digital components built in.”


Uganda’s Needs Today


As we’ve been following up on the KONY 2012 campaign, we’ve learned that the extreme violence portrayed in Invisible Children’s YouTube video has not been a reality in Uganda for over half of a decade. This afternoon, somebody made the point that such portrayal dilutes the public image of a country that is, indeed, enjoying relative peace and growth. By the same token, it was also noted that the people of Uganda are facing true difficulties and that attention should be paid to current issues rather than issues of the past.

One issue highlighted on ugandaspeaks.com is nodding disease, a neurological disorder that causes consistent and debilitating seizures. One woman whose children have been afflicted with this illness explained that they are not only stigmatized in the community and unable to care for themselves, but that “When I go off to farm I tie them to the tree so they don’t get injured. If they walk off they don’t know where they are going they just keep walking and get lost.” There have been many cases of children seizing near cooking fires and becoming horridly burned because they cannot get themselves out of the fire.

While there is no known cure for this disorder, medical treatment is in its early stages and widespread coverage of this issue through social media & the Internet could just bring the necessary pieces of the puzzle together; “We see many people coming now to try to investigate,” said the mother, “So we have a little bit of hope. We are praying that these children will be cured.” Rather than KONY 2012, why not spread the BBC report on nodding syndrome through this site?


Checking the Checklist

ImagePlan International’s checklist for ICT usage in development programs and projects is as follows:

  1. Analyze Context
  2. Define Need
  3. Choose Strategy
  4. Assess Beneficiary Profiles (Undertake Participatory Communications Assessment)
  5. Choose Technology
  6. Adjust Content
  7. Build & Use Capacity
  8. Monitor Progress
  9. Maintain Sustainability
  10. Learn From Others’ Experiences & Disseminate Acquired Knowledge

While I agree that all of the steps are vital to the success of a program or project, I question their given sequence.  Typically, a need is identified before its context is understood.  (After Hurricane Katrina, I’m quite sure that the founders of lowernine identified the need for home reconstruction before anyone fully understood the context in which that would take place.)

Secondly, is it wise to decide on a strategy before assessing the way in which it may impact the community?  While the text does note that the assessment may, indeed, occur earlier in the process, I would find it illogical and inefficient to do it as step #4.

Lastly, why is learning from the experiences of others placed at the bottom of the list?!  Should that not be one of the preliminary steps?  One of the greatest issues with ICT4D projects and programs is that collaboration between projects and programs is so limited that inefficiency–and sometimes harm–is incurred in the process.

In short, my greatest issue with the checklist is the apparent lack of planning before implementation.  Call me crazy but I think it’s ridiculous to pick a place on the map –> learn all about the area –> figure out some issue –> come up with a plan of attack before considering intended impact –> consider intended impact –> throw in some technology –> decide whether or not that technology is actually helpful –> grow capacity –> see how things are going –> ensure that the project or program is maintained –> check out what others are doing in the field & let them know what you’ve been up to!


“Gender equality and empowerment of women through ICT”

Though several years old, the UN’s “Gender equality and empowerment of women through ICT” clearly explains the issues that women all over the world face today in regards to ICT. As the article very clearly states, “While there is recognition of the potential of ICT as a tool for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women, a “gender divide” has also been identified, reflected in the lower numbers of women accessing and using ICT compared with men. Unless this gender divide is specifically addressed, there is a risk that ICT may exacerbate existing inequalities between women and men and create new forms of inequality,” (3). Nevertheless, what I prefer to share in this post is an example of how ICT has been used to benefit the position of women in a LDC.

As a preface, this article highlights real examples from Brazil, Senegal, India, Malaysia, Korea, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Ghana, Fiji, Slovakia, Malawi, etc., which I urge you to look at for ideas. The case that I will highlight is this one: In Costa Rica, there is a feminist program called FIRE, which is transmitted both through the radio and the Internet. Through FIRE, women can access vital support regarding “…sensitive issues, such as violence against women, women in conflict areas and child abuse,” (11). Additionally, “…the website contains written information and a photo gallery of events where women are key actors,” (11). I’ve also hyper-linked FIRE’s website, so check it out; there are some articles available in English for those of you que no hablan español. =]


“Video-Mediated Farmer-to-Farmer Learning for Sustainable Agriculture”

In October of 2011, the organization Agro-Insight conducted a study prompted by The Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS), the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, & the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) to identify the recipe for success in common or open exchange video platforms for farmers in developing countries. The study found that 8 in 10 respondents had, indeed, used the Internet to find and learn from agricultural videos. The 2 in 10 that had not done so struggled with A) successfully navigating the WWW, B) finding videos pertaining to relevant information, or B) finding videos in the appropriate language. Thus, 85% of the respondents asserted that accessibility of videos in local languages is “very important.” Beyond that, videos in local languages, but of poor quality, were not preferred to high quality videos made in foreign languages & translated into local languages. Farmers indicated the need for information regarding “crops and trees, water management, plant health, soil health, and farmers’ organizations.” If anything can be said for these results, it is that ICT4D must be pertinent to local needs and customs in order to be successful.


MOBILE PHONES: WHAT FOR?

In this TED presentation, a researcher from Nokia touches on a common use of mobile phones in Uganda–a use that is essentially unheard of in the United States. This is exemplary of the manner in which ICT has a multitude of potential functions that designers or original users may never have thought of or believed to be pertinent. If ICT is to be implemented truly 4D, the potential benefits of the consumers in developing regions must be considered, regardless of the utility of a given application in external contexts. Take a look at the video and see one way in which mobile phones are used in Uganda–I think you will be surprised!