Monday, November 15, 2004

Re: [bytesforall_readers] Business Models, ICT & developing countries

This is a post I sent to the bytesforall_readers@yahoogroups.com

To Joyojeet and all involved in this current discussion. As an academic and practitioner I am inspired to hear of the interest in developing resources for educating students in this field.

The concerns about what is appropriate content for courses on ICT and Development are valid but it is only through discussions such as these that we can start to develop a body of research and resources for such courses. Some thoughts I'd like to add include:

- the level of study (undergrad/postgrad/short course)
- whether the class is in a developed or developing country
- which faculty is the course located: IT, development studies, eBusiness, etc.
- possible ways to network students from both sides of the digital divide to foster research links (group projects/exchange programmes/email buddies)
- encouraging cross disciplinary approach to ensure vibrant, challenging research (as seen in the field of community informatics)
- ways of generating new case studies that reflect both ground-up and donor-driven experiences (see www.egov4dev.org for some excellent material by Richard Heeks)
- generating links between educational institutions and ICT enterprises in developing countries to develop research and employment opportunities.

For example the last point drives my current work in Cambodia. Its commonly accepted that the focus of ICT in developing countries is twofold: as an enabler for development or as a sector which provides employment and economic growth. Increasingly they feed each other as capacity builds local ICT service providers deliver ICT enabled development projects.

To this end our company has an internship program so graduate can put their skills into practice, some become programmers and others work in our IT-enabler call center. Our clients are both public and private sector. So whether we are developing a monitoring system for an NGO or conducting a customer satisfaction survey for a commercial client, we are using ICT in a developing county.

My PhD research is on SMEs use of ICT in Cambodia and is informed through my work as a consultant as well as my colleagues in the ICT services sector. I believe this melding of academic, commercial and development reflects the changing role ICTs play in developing countries. It is this mix of theory and practice that all educational programs need to balance which I support.

You may also be interested in Barbara Fillip's online 'ICTs for Developing Countries' which she runs as a USDA Graduate School e-learning class. Barbara uses a yahoo groups email as the discussion list for the course and it has been a useful foundation and forum for keeping abreast of issues in the field. The class participants have been from both developed and developing countries and I'm sure Barbara has some relevant feedback on her courses as to how these different students find the course.

cheers

Kelly Hutchinson
RMIT University, Australia
SilkRoad Cambodia
www.silkroadcambodia.com
www.communication4dev.blogspot.com

Original Post from Joyojeet

Partha>
I am co-teaching a course on ICT for Development / Digital Divide>issues, here in Berkeley, California. I'd be willing to share my>syllabus / class plans and throw it out for criticism (plenty!) if>anyone is interested. Please send me a personal email if interested and>I will attach the req. file. Here's the course description:
>>Thanks, Joyojeet