In February 2001 I officially began by journey in the field of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D). First, as a practitioner, leading the Development Cooperation programme at the Open University of Catalonia, running projects focused in e-learning for development. Then, as a scholar, as a lecturer at the School of Law and Political Science at the same university.
These eight years have been roughly condensed in an interview that Martin Konzett, Florian Sturm and Anders Bolin (all of them from ICT4D.at) made to me during the Cooperation 2.0 event in Gijón this month.
Not much effort to set up, enhanced reach of information, easy approach to a large user base, reused content (CC-licensed)… though not everythign works.
Q & A
Q: what are the criteria to choose one social networking site or another one? A: Already existing networks is a good place to start.
CEDUCAR network, a horizontal cooperation model through ICTs Fernando Fajardo, AECID/CECC-SICA
To leverage the Central America education system.
By using Joomla, virtual communities have been built for educators to network and meet each other. A Moodle paltform has also been set up to train trainers/educators in ICTs for education.
Besides technology (FLOSS), all content is also licensed freely (CC). This way, there’s not only a platform but a course bank to be used in any educational initiative.
One of the strengths of this project is that is regional: there’s eight countries (+ Spain) in Central America and the Caribbean taking part in it. It’s also multi-stakeholder: NGOs, universities, enterprises, national agencies…
Digital Democratization in Guatemala Ramon Bartomeus, Iwith.org
It’s a coordination project: each organization does their own projects, but in the same place (i.e. Guatemala) so it makes a lot of sense to coordinate some resources, findings, problems…
Communities do not come after technology, but the opposite
Find who the early adopters are and rely on them
Begin with simple, successful things. Do not deploy the whole set of things
Public radio, set on telecenters, and used by citizens to ask their governments for several civic issues.
Telecenters are placed in several places, including jails, where they have weekly broadcasts.
But the problem of the digital divide remains. Why did not the project improved this issue? You don’t teach guitar without the instrument. If people just have computers an hour a day (or an hour a week), people are not empowered at all. So, the project succeeded in digital literacy, but not in bridging the digital divide.
But, notwithstanding, it is a seed for a change of reality.