Insights and Impressions of the IFIP 9.4 Conference 2022

You know, I could have been in Lima (Peru). Slurping my fruit smoothie while relaxing on a sun bed. But due to the pandemic, travelling was and is still restricted. Therefore the IFIP 9.4 Conference was first postponed from 2021 until this year with the hopes of a face to face meeting. Different variants of the virus and uncertain developments led to it being held online and I managed to still slurp on my fruit smoothie in my own beach chair but in my not air-conditioned flat in Vienna while enjoying the keynotes, contributions, speeches and presentations of this year’s virtual conference.

The International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) has several technical committees. The working group 9.4 on the implications of information and digital technologies for development is dedicated to research and action on the social issues of sustainable development. This year’s conference topic was “Freedom and Social Inclusion in a Connected World”. 

Introduction and keynote speech

Professor Tim Unwin, with whom we at ICT4D.at had the pleasure to collaborate on various projects such as TEQtogether and DESC, gave the keynote speech. While warning the attendees that he might stir up some thought-provoking discussions, he intended to encourage us to think about the big issues and especially how we understand freedom, rights and responsibilities. His central argument was that we are all in danger of becoming enslaved by the digital barons and their knights. Our responsibility is to work to create ways through which people can break free from the “digital shackles with which they are bound.” Various forms of digital enslavement involve:

– Leasure time being exploited through the extension of the duration of labour

– addiction to the internet and especially social media

– gathering and analytics of user data

– governments enforcing the use of digital systems for government services, disregarding the population that is not connected and/or able to use digital media

– opportunities for mass-surveillance

Digital tech is now used primarily for economic growth. Those in power always used technology to their advantage to maintain their positions of power – why should now be different? Tim Unwin claims that digital barons maximise the exploitation of users of digital media and that freedom in the digital world is an illusion. You can find his insights here and the slides here

Global, local and everything in between

The programme of the conference contained various tracks – from digital platforms to government corruption, artificial intelligence, feminist and queer approaches, entrepreneurship for development etc. Besides the vast topic areas, the event was truly global, with participants from New Zealand, Nigeria, China, USA, Norway, Peru all continents were covered. 

The discourse focussing on inequalities and complexities of the digital world was already given by the circumstances of the conference itself. You were only able to participate if you had a working internet connection, which failed in several cases. Some of the presentations had to be postponed or held by other members of the team that were connected from a different place and device. My impression was also that the common finding of the research was that there are several approaches, but you have to be careful not to impose inputs from eurocentric contexts and to align with the life of those living in developing countries and/or communities. 37% of the world population never used the internet, while 96% of those reside in a so-called developing world. Data are never just a set of facts, but always very political. Governments and institutions make decisions and raise restrictions on what and how should something be done based on them. The technical aspects and the conceptualising are subject to the political and social environment, depending on factors such as morality, the point of power, interconnectivity, dependence… 

Personal impression

A very interesting topic for me personally was Katherine Wyers’ proposal to introduce a queer, trans-feminist, intersectional perspective in ICT4D research and practice. The phrase “to queer up the research” is forever embedded in my mind from now on. The ways how the binary system of software engineering can be disrupted are various.

The idea of “leaving no one behind” contains also the idea of economic inclusion. Hereby the focus of digital entrepreneurship moved away from just profit and shifted more to other values like the desire to promote local knowledge, the wish to become independent from external sources and strengthen local communities. There are different approaches to inclusion and some tensions arise when negotiations are necessary to balance the expectations of the funders (often international organisations with Eurocentric views) and the local ambitions, needs and preferences. To quote Andrea Jimenez and Christopher Fosters’ contribution loosely – inclusion needs a holistic way as a digital turn represents a continuation of some power and privilege structures, mirroring colonial histories and unbalanced representation in decision making.

Besides the interesting presentations, there was enough room to socialise due to round tables dedicated to certain topics and to speed networking, where you were connected to other people for a few minutes and then got switched to a new dialogue partner. All in all, it was a very informative conference for anyone interested in the topic of ICT4D.

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Insights and Impressions of the IFIP 9.4 Conference 2022
was published on 10.06.2022 by Sanja Cancar. It files under global
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One month teaching in India

A south Indian thali.
My first south Indian thali

Background

The Idea: From Vienna to Andhra Pradesh

I study business informatics at the TU Wien (Vienna University of Technology). For my bachelor thesis with the working title “Enhancing the Resilience of Software Engineering Courses by Implementing Continuous Education using Smartphones exemplified by rural India” I created and taught a course for software engineering at a rural college in Andhra Pradesh, India in 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the safety measures – like college closures – the whole setting for the course was entirely remote.

So I was sitting at home in Vienna while the students joined from their homes in (mostly) Andhra Pradesh. The main challenge was to include all students as only half of them own a personal device like a laptop or desktop computer. Out of those, half had to share their devices with family members or friends. The rest of the students had only a smartphone available for learning, practising, and joining classes.

The goal to include everyone required the software engineering course to be created in a way that also the participants with only a smartphone can join in all activities like learning, practising, attending classes, and reviewing submissions.

Course overview: Modules and used Tools

The software engineering course currently consists of four modules for each year: We designed module 1 for students of the first year, the second for students of the second year and so on. They begin with learning how to use the keyboard properly using TypingClub and about concepts of computer programming using Scratch.

In the second module students start with basic concepts of Java programming using practical assignments, where they for example also have to solve tasks of the Java course on Sololearn. During the third module, they will learn concepts about object-oriented programming in Java and create their first bigger Java application during three iterations one a month each.

Additionally, they will get to know the basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript by applying them to practical assignments and courses from Khan Academy. In the fourth module, students gain an understanding of the basics of software architecture and how to use a SQL database to store and retrieve data in Java. During this module, they have to work together in a two to three person team and use git together with GitHub to share their code.

Conducting the course: Adapting to connectivity issues and various devices

In order to make the teaching material available and to enable students to enter submissions, we used the learning platform Moodle. Moodle is responsive and adapts to the screen size of the students’ devices. For the Java assignments students used the Android application Java N-IDE. For the HTML, CSS and JavaScript tasks they used the Android application Spck Code Editor. Since internet connectivity is also an obstacle, both applications work entirely without any active internet connection.

After completing the exercises, students submitted the Java files to Moodle. For the HTML, CSS and JavaScript assignments, they used the web application trinket.io. An alternative to trinket.io was Spck Code Editor. Since Spck Code Editor did not require any active internet connection, students preferred Spck Code EditorZoom was used to conduct online classes and also for submission reviews with the students, which were about their submitted Java, HTML, CSS and Javascript code.

Sometimes technical issues like powercuts, bad or no internet connection at all, or other unrelated personal issues, prevented the students from attending online classes. Therefore the classes were recorded and uploaded to YouTube. Also most mobile internet data subscriptions of the students are limited to about 2GB per day, and they have to participate in online classes nearly all day long. Additional videos in which concepts of Java programming was explained were also recorded using OBS and uploaded to YouTube.

Currently: First experiences, challenges and festivities

I arrived at the Bengaluru International Airport in India on the 23rd of March 2022. The first experiences in India were a three hours long journey through the outskirts of Andhra Pradesh in the middle of the night to the place of the college and a really nice and heartly welcoming ceremony where I had the chance to meet and talk to the students for the first time, which I only met during remote sessions last year.

Candle lightning at the welcoming ceremony.
Candle lightning (this time with shoes) during the welcoming ceremony.

After a long time struggling to adjust to the new environment, especially wearing formal clothes during the hot Indian summer and being so far away from home for the first time, finally the classes started. Right now, I am teaching two classes of students, who are currently doing their BTech in Computer Science and Engineering at a college in rural Andhra Pradesh in their third and fourth year. During my first week teaching, Paul visited and helped me to prepare everything, to introduce me to everybody, and to kickstart the new semester.

Students of the third and fourth year.
Students of the 3rd and 4th year

Since there was a break for new students to join the software engineering course due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we planned to continue the course with students of the first year. During Pauls visit, we also conducted the entry assignment for the first year students of the college. Out of 66 students, we will start the first module of the software engineering course with 16 students.

Conducting the entry assignment for students of the first year
Conducting the entry assignment for students of the 1st year.

Besides that, currently classes for module 3 and module 4 are conducted once a week with three hours each. Due to the multicultural nature of India students often miss classes because they are involved in helping to organise and prepare various festivities that are currently going on. Sometimes students also have to leave to participate in interviews with companies for internships. Luckily for now there are no school closures and we can use the computer lab during the classes.

As mentioned above, another challenge is internet connectivity. Most of the time it is available, but sometimes there the connection is very, very, very… slow or there is no internet connection at all. Powercuts happen as well, but are very rare at the moment. The locals told me during the rainy season it will get worse, but I hope for the best. Another big hurdle for students without a personal laptop or desktop computer is that the internet in the computer lab is only available during the classes. When there are no classes, the internet for the computer lab is being turned off.

A possible solution could be to show students how to use USB tethering to access the internet on the computer, but then again they have to use data of their own mobile data subscription. Nevertheless, the classes are going on and I as well as the students are really motivated to continue teaching and learning with or without those challenges. I will keep you up to date in the next blog post in about a month.

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One month teaching in India
was published on 19.05.2022 by Raimund Rittnauer. It files under south asia
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Introduction to ICT4D – Online Guest Lecture at the TU Wien 2022

As a member of the research group INSO at the TU Wien (Vienna University of Technologies) I am once a year invited to give an introduction to ICT4D. The research group for Industrial Software (INSO) deals with the study of development and maintenance of software systems in practice. The presentation will be a part of their Beyond the Desktop lecture.
I will introduce participants to ICT4D, discuss projects & past research and I will give an overview of our activities at ICT4D.at. We are currently looking for students who are interested in participating in our projects or to start writing a thesis in the field of ICT4D.

For the third time due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the lecture will be online. Everyone is welcome to tune in:

Thursday, 24th March 2022, 17:05 – 19:00 (CET Vienna time zone)
Join via Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88911941592

The lecture will be in English language. See you there!

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Introduction to ICT4D – Online Guest Lecture at the TU Wien 2022
was published on 22.03.2022 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe, global
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Introduction to ICT4D – Online Guest Lecture at the TU Wien 2021

As a member of the research group INSO at the TU Wien (Vienna University of Technologies) I am once a year invited to give an introduction to ICT4D. The research group for Industrial Software (INSO) deals with the study of development and maintenance of software systems in practice. The presentation will be a part of their Beyond the Desktop lecture.
I will introduce participants to ICT4D, discuss projects & past research and I will give an overview of our activities at ICT4D.at. We are currently looking for students who are interested in participating in our projects or to start writing a thesis in the field of ICT4D.

For the second time due to the Covid-19 outbreak will the lecture be available via an online conference. Everyone is welcome to tune in:

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 17:05 – 19:00 (CET Vienna time zone)
Join via Zoom by clicking here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85874819852

The lecture will be in English language. See you there!

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Introduction to ICT4D – Online Guest Lecture at the TU Wien 2021
was published on 22.03.2021 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under global
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ICT4D Online Guest Lecture at the TU Wien

As a member of the research group INSO at the TU Wien (Vienna University of Technologies) I am once a year invited to give an introduction to ICT4D. The research group for Industrial Software (INSO) deals with the study of development and maintenance of software systems in practice. The presentation will be a part of their Beyond the Desktop lecture.
I will give an introduction to ICT4D, discuss projects & past research with the students and I will give them an overview of our activities & projects at ICT4D.at. We are currently looking for students who are interested in participating in our projects or to start writing a thesis in the field of ICT4D.

For the first time due to the Covid-19 outbreak will the lecture be available via an online stream. Everyone is welcome to tune in:

Thursday, 23th April 2020, 17:00 – 19:00 (Vienna time zone)
Join via Zoom by clicking here: https://zoom.us/j/541201875

The lecture will be in English language.

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ICT4D Online Guest Lecture at the TU Wien
was published on 21.04.2020 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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ICT4D Guest Lecture at TU Wien

I am a member of the research group INSO at the TU Wien (Vienna University of Technologies). The research group for Industrial Software (INSO) deals with the study of development and maintenance of software systems in practice. I got invited as a guest lecturer next week as part of their Beyond the Desktop lecture. I will give an introduction to ICT4D, discuss projects and past research with the students and I will give them an overview of our activities and projects at ICT4D.at. We are currently looking for students who are interested in participating in our projects or start writing a thesis in the field of ICT4D at the TU Wien. Everyone is welcome to pass by and join in:

Thursday, 13th June 2019, 16:00 – 18:00 at GM 4 Knoller Hörsaal (1060 Wien, Getreidemarkt 9, Hoftrakt, Stiege IV, 2. Obergeschoß).

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ICT4D Guest Lecture at TU Wien
was published on 07.06.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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ICT4D Introduction Lecture at TU Vienna

I was invited by the Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation from the Vienna University of Technology to give a guest lecture regarding ICT4D. I will give a short overview, talk about the history and where the ICT4D community is currently heading. There will be a focus on practical projects from our past, since they lecture titles Projects in Development Aid.

Aim of course

Goal of the lecture is showing the participants the challenges of development aid projects. The participants will see that skills like social competence and flexibility are essential for success.

Subject of course

The focus of the course is the development aid program Appear (Austrian Partnership Program in Higher Education and Research for Development). After a general introduction, five speakers will present their respective projects. An essential aspect of the lectures are, in addition to the problem definition and the (technical) solution, the challenges of working in developing countries, dealing with inadequacies of the infrastructure, political developments, social challenges, economic conditions, etc.

You can find more detailed information here.

Pass by if you find the time, anyone is welcome:
Fri, 16.11.2018, 17:00 – 18:45
Address: Gußhausstraße 27-29, 1040 Vienna,
Neues EI, Stiege I, 3. Stock

 

ICT4D Lecture at TU Vienna





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ICT4D Introduction Lecture at TU Vienna
was published on 11.11.2018 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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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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Junior Camp Zion College – Anloga

The Junior Camp Ghana Program is a career mentoring series in high schools in Ghana. It is run by the GhanaThink Foundation.

The program allows industries and persons to share their stories, experiences and knowledge with students in second cycle institutions i.e. Senior High Schools (SHS).

It also connects students with mentors who provide their wisdom about their areas of expertise, management, leadership skills, career success factors, industry insights, communication skills. Through the program students are inspired to match similar career goals, concentration, career fields etc.

Junior Camp Zion College was held on the 30th of June 2018 and started with an opening prayer lead by one of the students.

Harry Akligoh, the Volta lead for Junior Camp Ghana took over to talk about the program and the purpose of our gathering.
The mentors then introduced themselves and what they do.

I was opportuned to lead a session on:

1. Why learn programming
2. Opportunities available
3. How to become a successful developer
4. Why acquiring a digital skill is essential in today’s era.
5. My experience / story

Noah introducing himself at #JCZionCollege

Other sessions lead by mentors includes:

1. Techpreneur – Dakey James Sewornu

2. Education and Entrepreneurship – Courage Christson Tetteh

3. Legal Education – Elorm Ashiagbor

4. Finance and Accounting – Cryspin Kavaarpuo

5. Sexual and reproductive health and volunteerism – Ekissi Victor

6. Creativity and Innovative thinking – Harry Akligoh

7. Healthcare and Sciences – Precious Adade

Mentors at Junior Camp Zion College

The assistant headmaster was pleased to have us around impact the students.

At the end of it all, we proposed to the school that we want to set-up an ICT club/society to equip the students with digital skills.

During our mentoring session we realized a lot of students are having interest in programming, IOT, animations, graphic designing etc but don’t have the exposé hence the need to have a community to spark that interest.

The mind blowing ideas from the students needs support to make them a reality.

In the years to come great developers will start coming up from Zion College in Angloga and also partaking in competitions.

Upcoming female developers

The assistant headmaster was so excited to hear this laudable idea and can’t wait to have this club on campus.

Our hope is to commence the club when school resumes next academic year.

It’s my dream to also see other High schools in Ghana exposing their students to technology.

The program ended with both participants sharing what they’ve learnt and also the mentors sharing their experiences with the students.

Indeed, Living Tomorrow’s Career Today.





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Junior Camp Zion College – Anloga
was published on 01.07.2018 by Noah Alorwu. It files under sub saharan africa
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ICT4D Lecture at Vienna University of Technology

I got invited to give a talk about ICT4D in a lecture called Beyond the Desktop due to my affiliation to the Vienna University of Technology. The lecture covers a broad spectrum of technology applications and aims at design thinking. It targets Master students who combine in their studies software engineering, user interface design and user experience design. The goal of the lecture is to also look beyond the usual software applications and illustrate other exiting fields such as wearable technologies, ambiguous computing and also this semester for the first time ICT4D. Beyond the Desktop aims at:

  • Employing and acquiring skills in user interfaces beyond the traditional Desktop.
  • Getting to know various technologies to solve problems in this field.
  • To be able to understand and apply principles in design and evaluation according to HCI fundamentals for future mobile applications.
  • Prototyping new kinds of actions between humans and computers

In my guest lecture I will give a broad overview of what ICT4D is and where it originates. I will illustrate some ICT4D projects in the field and also focus on past failed projects to show the misperception of ICT4D. Followed then by a presentation of our ICT4DMZ project and my experience form India, since both projects were implemented in cooperation with INSO and DECO, the hosting research groups.

If you are interested in a dialogue about ICT4D, then feel free to join me:

Venue
GM4 Knoller
Hoftrakt, Stiege IV, 2. Obergeschoß
Getreidemarkt 9, 1060 Wien
Directions in German

Time: 14.06.2018, 16:00 – 17:30

Language: English

See you there!

Lecture at TU Vienna





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ICT4D Lecture at Vienna University of Technology
was published on 07.06.2018 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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