10 years of ICT4D.at – how it all got started

As we had our 10 years anniversary last year – the NGO was officially formed on 8 November 2008 – I spent some time reflecting how this whole thing came to be and how it all developed. And I’m happy to share these thoughts with you in this blog post.

The reason why I got interested into the field of ICT4D is connected to my year of Erasmus student exchange during my Master studies in “Wirtschaftsinformatik” (management information systems). I went to Sweden from August 2006 to July 2007 and attended several courses at the Department of Computer and System Sciences of the University of Stockholm. At that time they had a Master course in ICT for Development with several courses which I got interested in. Nowadays, there’s no Master course anymore but still a research focus on ICT4D (https://dsv.su.se/en/research/research-areas/ict4d). There were hardly any “Westerners” doing the course, but a lot of people from Bangladesh, Iran or Pakistan. The courses were rather theoretical in nature, but still it got me hooked – I always wanted to do “something good” with my studies.

So after this year in Sweden I wanted to pursue my interest in ICT4D further, but there was nothing similar like these courses at any university in Vienna. But still I made the topic ICT4D one focus of my Master thesis which I started in 2008 (- can still be downloaded here by the way: http://othes.univie.ac.at/3571/). In the course of writing it I was pointed by a common acquaintance to Martin Konzett who had also a big interest in ICTs connected to Africa. He is a coder himself and has personal ties to Zanzibar. We met at a cafe in Vienna and he was super enthusiastic about starting an organisation in Austria, doing a movie, a blog, going to conferences and starting projects. He had also the concrete idea to develop the organisation to run as a business – e.g. through outsourcing programming or web design to Africans we had educated in a project. I found all this very exciting and we decided to join forces.

Our first concrete activites were the movie Hello Africa and this website and blog.

For the movie Martin went with Martin Tomitisch (lecturer in Human Computer Interaction – he became the third co-founder) and Anders Bolin (film maker) to South Africa and Tanzania to document how everyday life in these countries was connected to mobile phones even then already. At that time people in Austria hardly thought of Africans as mobile phone users. The movie – called “Hello Africa” – got great feedback, was shown on festival and watched by many people. It was released under CC-license, so it can still be watched on Vimeo for free under https://vimeo.com/4664795.

The blog started on 28 April 2008 with a definition of the term “ICT4D” as the first post. In the beginning Martin and me published a blog post almost every day. We referred to all sorts of ICT4D projects, news articles and documented our own activities. To gather content and to document the whole ICT4D research scene we also went to several conferences and ICT4D-related events around Europe. There we interviewed researchers, activists and policy makers and put the videos on our Youtube channel and blog. My “highlight” was the ICTD2010 conference in London (http://www.ictd2010.org/), where we interviewed Tim Berners-Lee, Geoff Walsham, Ineke Buskens or Tim Unwin among others. I still remember the interview with Tim Berners-Lee, because I was super nervous and the questions I asked him weren’t very smart. All the videos are still up on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/user/ict4dat/videos.

We also formed a partnership with the e-Development group of the World Bank to cover their events and webcasts on social media, mostly via our Twitter account (https://twitter.com/ict4ddotat). However, we also weren’t so avid Twitterers and the eDev group didn’t really have an enthusiastic online crowd to watch their streams, so that was most times rather redundant

Several people joined at this time. Worlali Senyo, a Ghanian ICT research analyst became interested in our NGO and became a member. He has been supporting our efforts in Ghana ever since. Also Isabella Wagner (then – student of the master course “Society, Technology, Science”) joined the NGO.

Through the movie project and Martin’s ties to Zanzibar we started our first project there in 2009. It was called “Zanzicode” (http://zanzicode.ict4d.at/) – inspired by the project “Zanzibits” which also took place there at that time. (http://zanzibits.blogspot.com/) The aim of Zanzicode was to “help build the personal careers of our graduates as well as to kickstart a local web development community”. To achieve this, we “provided free education in the field of Web Development to a small number of talented and motivated students of poor background in Zanzibar, Tanzania”. We got a little funding from the Austrian Development Agency for this project and also the NGO “Leos” from St. Pölten gave us a donation. The courses ran for around two years in total and we had different people teaching programming on the spot – first Martin himself, Dan Hamm and Fritz Grabo (then informatics student at TU Vienna) who joined the NGO afterwards. All in all the project was ambitious but rather small and worked quite well. After two years we didn’t have anyone on the spot any more who was willing to organise the courses in a way we thought made sense, with a strong focus on Open Source. So we terminated the courses around 2011.

Afterwards it became a bit more quiet, also due to Martin Konzett moving away from Vienna and investing less time in the NGO. We experimented with ICT4D “Stammtisch” in Vienna where several people attended over the years – for example Christoph Derndorfer from OLPC News. We also had guest lectures at the university from time to time. We also worked on the book “Social Business Forge” – focusing on tax and business issues around the field in which our NGO was active. This project was spearheaded by Paul Pöltner (then – student at TU Wien and aspiring tax consultant), who also initiated our next big “development”-project.

This next big project was called “ICT4DMZ – Information and Communication Technology for Development in Mozambique” (http://www.ict4dmz.org/). Its objective was to “to strengthen universities’ capacities for improved access, use and application of ICT for social development and economic growth in Mozambique.” The framework for this was a collaboration of Vienna University of Technology – more specifically the Research Group for Industrial Software (INSO) – and the faculty of Informatics at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane. ICT4D.at was facilitating the collaboration and many members were involved and made trips to Mozambique to teach, learn, connect and support – including the new member Paul Spiesberger (then student of informatics at TU Wien). I was also there myself in 2013 for three weeks, teaching a course in software development – here’s two blog posts about that:

The valuable lessons learned from this project were, that although there’s huge potential in the motivated students and teaching personnel at this particular university, it’s hard to create a sustainable impact, even though the project budget was fairly large compared to our other projects. We educated personnel which would eventually leave the university and work in the private sector, funded unnecessary hardware and had a hard time wrestling with university bureaucracy on the Mozambiquan side. We applied for follow up of this project – as this would have made it possible to profit from these experiences, but funding was denied although we handed in the application three times. We still have ties to the university, with Paul supporting some students in their app-programming efforts (see e.g. this blog post: https://www.ict4d.at/2015/09/06/ourmoz-wins-world-banks-apps4maputo-contest-in-mozambique/) and also with our project partners, but no other funding opportunity has come up in the mean time.

Another project which started at about the same time, in 2012 also had a big impact, even though it relied almost exclusively on voluntary work. Our member Margarete Grimus initiated and carried out this project in partnership with several students and staff of the Keta Technical High School in Keta, Ghana. The project focus was on using available technology, such as the mobile phones of students to create teaching materials from the internet. For this, she spent some time in Keta for three consecutive years, one time joined by another new member – Michael Pollak – to teach staff and students about difference ways to use the internet for teaching. Here’s a post of her stay there in 2014: https://www.ict4d.at/2014/06/20/news-from-ketascomobile/.

One of the students who took part in this project is Noah Alorwu, who has been active since, launching programming initiatives and workshops. Here’s some blog posts about that:

Through the project in Mozambique and other small activities, Paul Spiesberger became more and more involved in the NGO. In 2015, when I felt that I had led the NGO long enough, he decided to take over the role of chair person and has acted in this role since. I’m grateful to have been able to pass over this role to him, as since then new energy has come and we have become more active again.

The first signs of this new activities were the involvement of Georg Steinfelder (graphic designer & artist) and Chloe Zimmermann (architect), who joined together with Paul, in the Nimble Building Days, improving refugee housing in Austria – https://www.ict4d.at/2017/04/10/nimble-building-days-3-integration-through-collaborative-work/.

Also Alvaro Valverde, development professional at CABI has become engaged in the NGO in 2017 and is supporting us since with his experience.

Paul himself has made ICT4D a part of his work at TU Wien and through this has built ties with SSE Puttaprthi in India (http://sseptp.org/). He is also doing research in ICT4D, which allows him to attend a lot of exciting events:

Right after our 10 years anniversary party in November 2018 we had at our annual “vision meeting”, several new possibilities emerged for the NGO. One is the Erasmus+ project “Yes We Care 2”, which allows us to network with NGOs from Macedonia, Romania, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe around the topics of Social Entrepreneurship. Another is the project TEQtogether, which is committed to changing men’s attitudes and behaviours towards women and technology – https://www.ict4d.at/2019/02/25/teqtogether-teams-up-with-ict4d-at/.

More projects are in store and potential new members are motivated to get more active. You’ll hear about that on this blog for sure!

I’m looking forward to 10 more exciting years!

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10 years of ICT4D.at – how it all got started
was published on 15.03.2019 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week? Actually Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development

Source: UNESCO MLW

Today I had the pleasure to be part of the first day of the Mobile Learning Week (MLW) in Paris with its keynotes and discussion rounds. Last year the conference was focused on education in a mobile context with the focus on Skills for a connected world, as the MLW title implies. It seems, that this year it was hijacked by the trending ICT topic Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the education part was left out a bit. I can only assume why, but it seems that the UNESCO is shifting its focus and tries to spicy up their events with more buzzwords. AI is a trending topic and, besides its real significance, used most of the time to sell/promote things to people who have no glue about it. A couple of years ago it was the buzzword Blockchain Technologies to trigger interest and as far as I can remember, before that it was Cloud Computing. Yes, all of these technologies did or are changing the way we use and live with technology, but as before, most people are using the term AI more like this wonderful meme:



To be fair, AI and Machine Learning are much more than just statistics, read more here.

I am reporting from the MLW only from the first day, which is called “Principals for AI: Towards a Humanistic Approach” and the discussed AI topic fits more into this definition. To be fair, the next upcoming days will apparently stronger focus on education in combination with with AI and will have sessions such as “How can AI improve learning?”, “How can AI boost education and learning management systems?”, “How can AI be harnessed to reduce the learning inequitability?”, or “Will AI promote equity and gender equality?”.
Therefore, this blog post is not about Mobile Learning, but rather AI itself and summarizes some of the statements. I am pleased that at least some of the speakers were asking questions in the right direction and I hope this will continue in the upcoming AI-Education sessions. AI is happening and used world-wide, but as it is with every technology, it is just a tool and only gets a meaning or purpose when used by us. The question is not for what we should use AI and what it can do. This will be figured out anyway by the private and public sector due to demands by the market and the people. The real questions are:

  • Who is creating the AI, in which context was it created and what are their biases?
  • How transparent is it?
  • Who owns the AI and who has access to its tools?
  • Is it inclusive? Does it really mirror the society and context it is used in? (minorities, gender, sexual preferences, etc.)
  • How can we test and verify the decisions an AI takes for us?
  • Who is responsible for errors and accidents because of AI?
  • How democratic is the use of the AI? Who decided what we ask and for what we use it?

I am sure this list can be extended, feel free to do so, the more discussion the better. Please do not get me wrong, I favour AI and I am exited about the new possibilities AI offers, but I miss often a real discussion about pressing issues and questions. The buzzword topics Blockchain Technologies and Cloud Computing did not have the same impact capabilities as AI has. As a society we need to discuss how we would like to use AI in a democratic way. If we do not, then we will end up like China, where AI is used to control people in an unprecedented way. I personally want to live in a world were AI is enriching my freedom, not used to limit it or just to display me more fitting advertisement on Google or Facebook.

Furthermore, these questions are seldom asked for people in low-income countries. They are excluded from potential benefits of AIs already straight from the beginning. Our main goal must be to use AI to improve the lives of those who need it the most. For me, this would be a real intelligent use of Artificial Intelligence.

Here are some key statements I favoured during the key note and discussion rounds:

“Artificial intelligence is a false term, it’s neither artificial nor intelligent. It is created by us and it is our responsibility.“

“I work in many African countries and some of them have no freedom of press, no mandatory primary schools and a weak economy, but they develop an industry 4.0 and AI strategy for their countries. They don’t want to fall behind, but lack of the basics.”

“IEEE is currently working on Ethical Aligned Design for all who design technology and for the users as well. We work on how to put principal into practice, e.g. use standards to be implemented by the industry which have ethics at the core.”

“Behind every data point are actual people and we should not forget that.”

“Solidarity should be a core principal of AI.“

“African questions have to be taken into the context of an African problem. The design of an AI must take the people and their context into consideration”

“Many people say, that we need more women in AI”

“The current AI situation is reflecting the unfair distribution of wealth in the world. Definition, access and implementation are key.”

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UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week? Actually Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development
was published on 04.03.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe, global
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TEQtogether teams up with ICT4D.at

TEQtogether is committed to changing men’s attitudes and behaviours towards women and technology.

Digital Technologies can bring great benefits to individuals and communities. However, they also have a darker side, increasing inequalities and being widely used for abuse and harassment. This is especially true at the interface between women and technology. Women are not only often marginalised in the tech sector, but they are also frequently violated through technology. TEQtogether fights to change men’s attitudes and behaviours towards gender equality and women’s rights in the technology sector.

We are proud to partner up with TEQtogether. ICT4D.at will fight with them for an equal world and women rights in the technology sector. We will contribute with our experience and expertise from the ICT field, create awareness for this essential issue and carry our shared vision in every project we implement. Paul is an official member of the team lead by Elizabeth Quaglia and Tim Unwin.

As a start, we contributed in the creation of a Guidance Note: Convening a computer programming workshop. Women and girls need to be able to receive appropriate and relevant training in computer programming at all levels, or they will miss out on numerous employment opportunities across the technology sector. You can find our contribution and all of the other TEQTogether’s Guidance notes here.

Six things to do if you are convening a computer programming workshop

  1. As far as possible ensure an equal balance between men and women as invited trainers and speakers.
  2. If it is intended to be a mixed gender workshop, seek to ensure an equal balance between women and men as participants.
  3. Ensure equal access for women and men to all shared material and equipment, before, during and after the workshop.
  4. Ensure that all sub-groups within the workshop have mixed genders within them and every member has equal rights to speak up and participate.
  5. Ensure that there are guidelines on expected behaviour that specifically address sexual harassment.
  6. Be pro-active if you see inappropriate behaviour.

Six things to avoid if you are convening a computer programming workshop

  1. Permitting or condoning inappropriate sexual behaviour by participants, trainers, speakers, or sponsors during the workshop.
  2. Only inviting men to be speakers or trainers.
  3. Only choosing men to participate in the workshop if it is intended to be open to all genders.
  4. Only granting male participants access to shared materials and equipment during the workshop.
  5. Separating men and women into two groups with unequal access to resources during the workshop.
  6. Doing nothing if you see inappropriate behaviour.

You can download the PDF Version from here.


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TEQtogether teams up with ICT4D.at
was published on 25.02.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under global
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ICT4D.at 10-Year Party

Last week on Wednesday, 31.10. we had a little party in Vienna to celebrate the NGO’s 10 year anniversary. We tried to think of every current and former members to invite – and also all Austria-based supporters, partners and friends (I hope we didn’t forget anybody).

It was nice to get in touch again with some people we haven’t seen for a while – like Christoph, who used to work for OLPC and is now busy with teaching computer basics to kids with his NGO TechnikBasteln or Paul who coordinated the ICT4DMZ project for us and is now super busy in his crowd investment company CONDA. And it was also great to get to know new people interested in the ICT4D field.

The setting was rather informal. Paul and me did a short intro speech and then we had two bands playing – the band I’m in and Georg’s band. Chloe, Georg and Paul had made an effort to create a poster for every project we did so far before and we decorated the party venue with these posters. Thanks a lot for that! You can download the project posters under this link.

Thanks a lot also to Margarete and her friend Sarah who prepared a buffet for us!

We collected some donations from our guests and will give them to Noah to support his efforts in spreading progamming skills with Python and Django in Ghana.

Thinking of our activities in the past 10 years brought back a lot of memories. It’s amazing that we still have our blog after all this time and that all the old posts are still available – a great resource to see how we and maybe also the ICT4D field have changed in these years. It made we want to write another blog post looking back these 10 years, but that will take some time.

On the weekend following the party we had another vision meeting with several members and this brought a lot of energy and insights – but we will write about that also in another post.

For now I’d just like to express my thankfullness to everybody who every contributed to our NGO and helped shape our path in the past 10 years. Happy birthday ICT4D.at!





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ICT4D.at 10-Year Party
was published on 06.11.2018 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Much more than an app developers camp…

Ohrid is located on the shore of a big lake with crystal clear water in the south west of Macedonia. It bears a diverse ecological system and is millions of years old. The UNESCO accepted Lake Ohrid as Natural World Heritage Site. Tiny fish tickle your body when you keep still for a while. It is a holiday paradise and i wonder why i’ve never heard of it before.

There we met last weekend to choose the 3 winning projects of an international app development project called mYouth 2.0 which provides space for youth that is already in the field of new technologies in order to develop further their potentials and ideas.

4 participants from Asia, 4 from Africa and 4 from Europe pitched in front of a 12 member expert jury.
The jury chose one winner of each continent.
The 3 winners are invited to the European Youth Award festival in Graz in November 2018.

 

photo (c) Mladiinfo

It took me several days to write this recap. Why? Cause it was such a valuable experience that i didn’t want to cut it down to a few words. Nor would some pictures show what really fascinated me about this event. I’ll give it a shot…

We spent 5 days together. More than 30 people from 3 different continents: East African Region (Kenya and Tanzania), West African Region (Senegal and Ghana), North Asian Region (Vietnam and Hong Kong) and South Asian Region (Singapore and Philippines) as well as the European Region that involves Poland, Germany, Austria, Macedonia and Romania  – I thought of justing naming a few exemplary countries but it is so impressive if you make yourself aware of this diversity. Just being in the middle of this vibrant community was already worth travelling to Ohrid. I felt an excitement that i experience seldomly these days. A feeling that there is a vibrant and positive world beneath frightening news and fascist governments. That there are people who are actually making a change by helping their local communities and therefore bringing valuable ideas to the global society.

And the contestants do exactly that. Some of them experienced hard times in their young lifes and decided to protect people in the future from those experiences. Some of them observe problems in their communites and decide to do something about it. Some have a smart idea and want to develop it further. They get creative and use mobile technologies to help for example pupils who want to learn more about the world but simply don’t have learning material. Or to make dental service affordable for people who can’t rely on a health care system. Or to give an effective tool to people who want to make music but have no idea where to start – Spoiler: Those are the winners 😉

Jurying and choosing those 3 winning projects was tough. Many of the presentations where very convincing, several of the pitches where brillant, all of the projects are worth to be supported. It took us hours to discuss and decide. Sometimes i ask myself if competitions like this one are just wrong when all of them deserve to win. But then again it is a big boost for your motivation if you strive towards a goal.

The competion itself tough was just one aspect of the whole event. We coached the contestants and their projects and we learned a lot from them as well. So it was in fact a win-win situation. And we had time to spare. Some of the most interesting and deepest conversations emerge while you have lunch together or enjoy the sunset on a hill in Ohrid.

There would be so much more to say about the event, about technological aspects, about how important a proper design process is for an app project and so on but i think i already implied what was most important for me:
People from different cultures, of various ages, with different backgrounds came together in a peaceful, respectful and joyful way. We worked together, supported each other and simply had fun. It was organised by a careful and dedicated team (thanks so much Mladiinfo!). Jumping into this intercultural experience was one of the best things i did recently.

To be fair: It was an almost perfect setting and it is not easy to organise such intercultural events. But i think you can scale it down to your daily life as well. Even short contacts between persons with different cultural backgrounds can be interesting and authentic if you kick yourself in the butt and step our of your comfort zone. Give it a try! You won’t be disappointed. And it doen’t matter if you speak the same language or not.






Much more than an app developers camp…
was published on 30.09.2018 by Georg Steinfelder. It files under east africa, east asia, eastern and central europe, Europe, global, middle east and north africa, south asia
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Lend a support to enable smallholder farmers in rural Ghana access IT & financial services

Farmerline recently launched a 30-day Kiva campaign to raise a $100,000 loan to connect 6,000 smallholder farmers in Ghana to financial services, market information, weather forecasts and quality inputs. We need your help to reach our goal today July 18 in a few hours!

In 2016, we launched our first campaign with Kiva and were able to raise $50,000 to connect 1,000 smallholder farmers to high quality and affordable farm inputs at 20 – 30% below market price. We want to extend our reach!

As a supporter and friend of Farmerline, your contribution would go a long way! As little as $25 would ensure a supply of farmer inputs for a month at a 1 – 2 acre farm, while a $75 loan would ensure a rice or vegetable farmer has input supply for four months and is able to focus on ensuring consistent quality yield.

To learn more about our Kiva campaign and become a lender, visit Farmerline Kiva campaign.

Click the video below to hear from a few of the farmers we serve!

 





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Lend a support to enable smallholder farmers in rural Ghana access IT & financial services
was published on 18.07.2018 by Worlali Senyo. It files under global, sub saharan africa
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2018 IFIP WG 9.4 and an Interactive Workshop about Sexual Harassment via Mobile Phones

In the heart of the beautiful Tirana, the capital of the surprising modern and dynamic Albania, the IFIP WG 9.4 conference took place. I was invited to present my work and also co-chair with Tim Unwin a paper and demo session regarding Equality and Safety issues with Digital Innovations. Tim and I wanted to mix up the session a bit to try out something unusual.

Before the conference, we started to discuss the issue of sexual harassment via mobile phones, after I read his blog post concerning the findings of their research. I proposed a, as we call it now, flawed solution to the problem. I designed a simple mobile application to register sexual harassers and warn victims. I wanted to start a discussion. Quite quickly all the drawbacks of potential abuse, legal implications, data management/ownership, etc arose. So, we got stuck in finding a good solution to empower victims of sexual harassment (via mobile phones) in developing countries.

We then decided to bring the topic to the table of the conference and use the participants to brainstorm for other and foremost better solutions. The goal was to break my programmed engineering thinking and use the diverse minds of our demo and paper session track to come up with something much better. The goal was not a technology, but anything which could empower the victims. The topic was intentionally set very broad to not limit the flow of ideas. This was also challenging, since there were no boundaries and many questions arose during the brainstorming. Furthermore, solving this complex in just workshop is unrealistic, but we were willing to try our best.
We formed groups, I introduced the concept of the Brainwriting-Pool (see our IFIP workshop slides for an explanation) and we tried to generate as many ideas as possible. We only had 45 minutes to discuss and brainstorm together. While some groups kept stuck in great discussions, others were quite productive and proposed many ideas of what we could do. One of the participants opened her heart and shared her story of harassment via mobile phones, which gave us a much better understanding of the topic. This once more showed the importance of including the targeted user group in the design process. Of course, we did not solve the issue in the 45 minutes, but many key points and ideas were stated. Ideas were put out to

  • create an anonyms social network for victims to connect with others and find help.
  • To visualize the harassment to show that this is a big issue and to illustrate that victims are not alone.
  • Make it easier for victims to defend themselves by offering information material on how to legally fight back. Illustrate the rights of every person.
  • When harassed by mobile phones, then the harassment is actually documented by call logs and text messages. This offers a new way of using this as a prove of harassment against the harasser and visualize the attack.
  • Translate sexual rights and women rights into pictograms and make them accessible to everyone.
  • Better illustrate that sexual harassment is not the fault of the victim and that they have a right to dignity.
  • Create mobile awareness campaigns.
  • Provide a quick help by offering options to victims to protect themselves.
  • A place where victims can share their story anonymously. To make it first possible to talk about the incident in a safe environment and also help others to understand that they are not the only ones going through such a difficult time.
  • Provide call centres with no charges and ensure anonymity.
  • A self-defence Drone you can launch to film your harasser and document the incident.
  • Better offer statistics about incidents to trigger a discussion and create awareness.
  • A “one button click” to connect one victim to another to reach out for help and understanding.
  • Create a SMS based one/two-way communication with empowering and motivating messages. Also offer a smart phone application.
  • Implement a general filter to block harassment content entirely form your platform. Have a “Right to delete” content on the Internet.

Many more issues, problems and ideas were discussed and mentioned. The possibilities and challenges are there, the sensitive topic of sexual harassment is too often ignored and our workshop underlined that we need to put a spotlight on this issue. ICT can do good, but also too often bad. It is our responsibility to also discuss the dark side of the technologies we promote and to be aware that ICTs are not always shiny and golden.

All of this was possible due to Kutoma Wakunuma and Sirkku Männikkö Barbutiu who also presented their profound work in our track. They agreed beforehand to shorten their presentations to give us the stage to carry out our workshop. I would like to again express my gratitude and recommend reading their valuable contributions:

Kutoma Wakunuma: Hey women can play dirty too! Social media Building and Construction – A tale of empowerment in the developing world

Sirkku Männikkö Barbutiu: A Facebook Account of Ones Own

I would also like to thank Endrit, the conference chair, who gave us the opportunity and a big thank you to Tim, for supporting me in my work.





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2018 IFIP WG 9.4 and an Interactive Workshop about Sexual Harassment via Mobile Phones
was published on 09.07.2018 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under eastern and central europe, global
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Learning to code: Programming with Pocket Code

Margarete is in close contact with our friends at the TU Graz who work on several tools for students. They developed Pocket Code, a mobile Android application to teach programming on the phone itself. You can create Android apps on an Android Device by simply putting blocks of code together. The principle is similar to Scratch, which in contrary only works on desktop devices. Wonderful concept and definitely worth to check out! They also develop iMoox a MOOC software and recently started to offer their content in English language. They offer now a new course where you can learn more about Pocket Code, check it out here.

The target group are children aged from 12-14 years, but also for teachers who would like to introduce programming in their classrooms.

Course content

With the help of Pocket Code, particularly children will gain initial experience with programming. A simple and visual user interface enables a playful implementation of your own ideas.
The course is designed for children and young people (age group 10-14 years) as well as teachers of all subjects.
The main content includes creating your own games, interactive animations and apps with Pocket Code.
It is up to the children whether they take the course on their own or together with their parents.

Learning goals

Participants of the course are able to implement their own ideas with the help of Pocket Code. At the end of the course the following objectives should be achieved:• I can handle objects
• I can work with the different commands of Pocket Code
• I can solve problems using Pocket Code
• I can create my own program and save it as an app
• I can download and modify another program

Prerequisites

As it is a course for beginners, no special previous knowledge is required.
• Start date 04.06.2018
• 5 week(s)3 hour(s)/week

Register Now!





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Learning to code: Programming with Pocket Code
was published on 26.05.2018 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe, global
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Mobile Learning Week 2018

Mobile Learning Week is UNESCO’s flagship ICT in education event. Digital skills are critical for jobs and social inclusion in a universality connected world – an estimated 95% of the global population living in an area covered by at least a basic 2 G mobile cellular network [MLW Concept Note].

MLWs provide a platform to share and expand knowledge, innovations and good practices in mobile learning on an international base. It is an excellent event for exchanging knowledge about achievements in skills targeted to Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4). The conference is co-organized by UNESCO and International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialized agency for ICT.
Topic of the 8th MLW, scheduled from 26-30 March 2018 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris was “Skills for a connected world”, focussing on digital skills and competencies for a connected economy and society.

Presenters for the 17 workshops were selected from a wide range of international organizations, NGOs, governmental agencies, research, projects and digital skills development programmes. While Margarete participated in former MLWs, this year she was accompanied by Paul Spiesberger. Furthermore, Margarete was invited to participate in workshop-presentation together with Prof. Mohamed Ally from Athabasca University, topic: “Developing Females and Teachers’ Digital Skills in Ghana”. She reported our project implemented from 2012 -2014, pointing out the very successful follow up developments organised by students participated in our workshops. It is important to note that girls represented quite often the majority of participants in our workshops. This can also be observed when looking at their blogs, videos and photos. The outcome of our engagement in Ghana shows that inequalities and gender divides can decreased with similar activities in digital skills programs.

Download Margarete’s presentation here.

Included in Margarete’s presentation was also a follow up project of former participants. In cooperation with Django Girls ICT4D.at’s former workshop participants organize workshops on programming in Python, especially tailored for women. Attendees don’t need any previous knowledge about programming and there is no age limitation. Coaches, speakers or organizers are volunteers; one female and one male tutor are former participants in the project presented. Additional activities were organized as Barcamps, workshops for students of nearby schools etc. Read more here.

Margarete and Paul took their chance to discuss possibilities with experts from UNESCO (Steve Vosloo) and representatives from all over the world for future projects in partnership with ICT4d.at. They gained insights in outstanding projects and programs in various countries. Discussions about successful and independent activities of students brought up new visions and ideas, how the group in Ghana could be encouraged for further developments on a larger scale.

Next to Margarete also other outstanding project were presented eKitabu which “Delivers accessible digital content for quality education” and Room7 – a network for coding schools, are two great examples. We also discovered a very successful project from Brazil, Laboratoria, which trains “Female tech talent from Latin America to the world”.

Adapting MOOCs for local demands seems to be a promising option. ICT4D.at will continue with cooperation and work on this issue to increase the chance for youth in Ghana to develop digital skills independently. Visions are continuously discussed via Skype with of the Mobile learning Society. Together we continue to inform our readers about further activities in Ghana.





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Mobile Learning Week 2018
was published on 08.05.2018 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe, global
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Holistic development and multi-stakeholder engagement with a pinch of systems theory; a recipe for acknowledging complexity

 

A day like today 10 years ago I decided to quit my job in IBM. I no longer wanted to wake up every morning and work 10 hours to make someone in the US richer and richer. I had volunteered in Peru and Mozambique during the summer holidays and I knew I wanted to work in development. I had however witnessed how private companies can influence policies, move governments and transform the lives of people in developed and developing countries, and it was that sweet spot between development and the private sector that was most appealing to me.

Luckily for me, the development industry has undergone a profound change over the last decade and has moved closer to that sweet spot. Old funding models and narrow focused interventions are no longer the norm. Donors are increasingly requesting Public Private Partnerships where private companies need to provide co-funding for the implementation of a program. Nowadays development objectives (including a theory of change) and business model design (including pricing) are two sections of the same project proposal. An agricultural program now needs to put women equity at its heart, focus on nutrition and food security while achieving economic, social, technological and environmental sustainability. This holistic approach can promote transformational and long lasting change, but it is also much more complex to develop, manage and evaluate than “old school” donor funded programs.

Having managed a small component of a multi-country (14) multi-million (24) multi-partner (40) program that aimed to integrate agriculture and nutrition goals using mobile phones, while attempting to demonstrate ‘impacts at scale’ and value for money, I can tell you: getting to the end goal is not a walk in the park. While I was still involved in the program I was approached by a researcher from Ottawa University, interested in analyzing this complex program using a systems approach to understand the relationship between its numerous sub-components and its different development goals. The result was an academic paper that has recently been published in Food Security (Springer), which will hopefully influence donors and academia to revisit their approach to complex development programs and to ensure that the sweet spot between development and businesses becomes sweeter in the years to come.

 

Here I leave you the abstract and a link to the paper.

International development programming is increasingly integrating agriculture and nutrition goals, while attempting to demonstrate ‘impacts at scale’ and value for money. These multiple goals create complexities, both from a conceptual viewpoint and a more operational perspective. This article uses systems theory to examine the mobile Nutrition program (mNutrition), which aims to improve nutrition, food security and livelihoods for rural women and children, through mobile phone-based information services.  The paper specifically uses mNutrition’s work in Malawi as a case study. The systems approach reveals that, as a complex system with numerous sub-components and tensions among different goals, the mNutrition program tended to minimize connections between its sub-systems (such as content development and mobile service development processes) in order to speed up movement towards the global planned outcomes. We argue that this is likely to have multiple impacts on outcomes, including on overall effectiveness and the relevance and sustainability of the mobile message content.





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Holistic development and multi-stakeholder engagement with a pinch of systems theory; a recipe for acknowledging complexity
was published on 27.02.2018 by Alvaro Valverde. It files under global, sub saharan africa
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