Communication & dissemination: the place of ICT

By Perez-Uribe Andres
20 November 2014

Within the framework of this workshop, we had two main presentations: Viola Krebs, Director of ICVolunteers, presented a short talk about Cybervolunteering as a new paradigm, and Prof. UrsGröhbiel from the Institute for Information Systems, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW), presented a talk about Mobile Phones as potent facilitators for competence development.

Viola Krebs introduced Cybervolunteering showing us that volunteers have played a major role in the development of information technologies (e.g., open source development and the World Wide Web itself). Via icvolunteers.org, people can get involved into different programs, and for instance, create websites, coding solutions, teaching the use of information technologies. Examples include: a) the ETIC project, which aims at providing tools to allow small farmers and herders to better sell their products in Senegal and West Africa, and b) Agriguide.org and agriwiki.org, which provide useful information for farmers. It is worth noting that information is not only provided as a text, but in particular illustrations are very welcome, given the high rate of illiteracy in certain regions of Africa. Thus, these platforms provide a multimedia toolbox for providing pictures and videos to the end-users. We had a cybervolunteer in the room, who could share with us his long-term experience.

Urs Gröhbiel presented the use of mobile phones and social networks for sharing valuable information and experience in a medical education setup. There was some discussion about using Facebook as a means for communication. On the one hand, it is widely used and well known, but on the other hand, it does not provide the more adequate means for searching information. Anyway, it was argued that the use of informal ICT technologies in the developing countries has to be encouraged, and young people can help use and disseminate their use. For instance, the use of Whatsapp has been quite successful for sharing information. Moreover, mobile phone tools have appeared to contribute to literacy. Prof. Gröhbiel has conducted studies to analyze how these people use those technologies, even if it has been observed that once a technology is available, people adopt it and makes use of it, sometimes in an original way. The result is that, they (in Africa) become innovators, as has been the case of mobile payment in Africa.

Even if the core of the discussion was ICT in developing countries, the need for solving very basic problems, like the lack of water and energy supply came to the fore. Solar energy was mentioned as a key technology to develop. Last but not least, the problem of recycling of mobile and electronic devices was mentioned. It appears that a large volume of cell phone garbage, which is considered hazardous waste, is being recycled without any security measures.

Animation: Andres Perez Uribe, Haute Ecoled'Ingénierie et de Gestion du Canton de Vaud (HEIG-VD)

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