Mobile Learning for Development: Current Key Challenges for the Research Community. A presentation delivered by Professor John Traxler, University of Wolverhampton, at the London International Development Centre, on 9 October 2009.
What do we know, what do we know about what we know
PILOTS PILOTSPILOTSCertainly implies something about funding and also about sustainability Maybe the funding issue is a challenge to us to set a more ‘appropriate’ agenda for fundersThe sustainability issue is more complex & clearly a research challengeDefinitions – m4d the mobile vs fixed distinction is a lot less rigid or stable and a lot more pragmatic than in Europe or presumably North America‘Development’ part of the definition much more challenging and a prerequisite to defining ‘development’ research challenges.
First m4d conference – Karlstadt Sweden December ‘09 Activists, researchers; Emergent community; Maturity of the community in terms of cohesion, homogeneity & sophisticationDiscussion of defining ‘development’; Need to refer back to ICT4D to get a more mature (?) perspective Component disciplines not defined Much technology push ‘development’ without reference to geography – see ICT4D collective vision statementM4d often seen as ‘service delivery’ – technology as conduit/receptaclewhat is development modernist & moral (Unwin) economic plus empowerment/capability (Kleine) (how to measure, for funders?) ethical component of ‘development’– pro-poor/per-poor (Heeks) consequences for researcher ethics – evaluator ethics ‘scientific’ research vs ‘development research’ – Heeks, Unwin, Kleine ICTD insufficiently informed by ‘development studies’Identity/role vague - research vs aid vs consultancy vs touristsConfusion of good guys & bad guys corporates & social responsibility universities, vendors, foundationsProblems for researcher ethics, corporate & govt research is often below radar of ethics proceduresNext billion / BOTP / emergent markets vs universality of mobiles is major motivation for corporate interest
2nd ICTD December BangaloreSustainability understanding how to transfer/scale/replicatedefining ‘african-ness’ role of evidence & lack of ‘big’ govt role of evaluation ‘top-down’ vs ‘’bottom-up’ working with mavericks, either at top or bottomEngagement technology-push Living Labs as a possible partial solution non-participative societies (Hofstede) vs participative (western) methods paradox of participative design (‘traditional’ in the community) vs top-down (‘progressive’)eg Nokia in India more authentic/less fundable
3rd ICTD 2009 Doha, QatarGates depiction of ICTD and m4d - Magic bullet, hero individual, classic american free market philanthropist, solve it & move onSocial enterprises – another part of the ethical dimension (but not one understood by Bill Gates)Evaluation, research & theory-building – People (educationalists, technologists, anthropologists) make the sense of it that they bring to it
What makes good ICTD research (or good m4d research)? - Paper from Kentaro ToyamaWorkshop at ICTD2009 – David Hollow, Rowena Luk, Transferability & generalisability came up – modernist, challenging & problematic but nevertheless we need to say something about the significance of our work eg to funders, policymakers
eLearning Africa was & is also a platform for global & Western technology vendors (VLEs, infrastructure, IWB). Simple indignation at unaffordable, sophisticated and grotesquely inappropriate technologies into communities unable to afford clean drinking water – presumably this takes place in more subtle and ambiguous ways in which we may all be complicitSubsequently the phrase ‘ideology (including pedagogy) embedded (or perhaps embodied) within technology’ drew my attention to a tacit component of our designs, our projects, our systems presumably even of participative and collaborative modes, namely our ideologies however benign or participativeAlso ‘design4dev’ especially in the context ICT4D research must recognise that ‘development’, however defined, operates alongside/amongst global corporates seeking to opening ‘emerging markets’ and to access the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ another uncomfortable boundary perhaps especially as much corporate activity takes place under the ‘corporate social responsibility’ banner
Stories & narratives as a form of expressing values, requirement, preferences and needsEvaluation workshop – Objectively verifiable indicators, causality, log frames, problem-solvingOne epiphany was eLearning Africa 2008 Accra - Much talk of ‘unexpected consequences’. One issue for us is ‘How to be ethical or moral in the face of such uncertainty?’ Also much talk of ‘objectively verifiable indicators’ , ‘problem-solving’, ‘multiple causes’ ......I wondered if perhaps the idea of ‘development’ (and newer disciplines such as UCSD, design4dev ...) may be flawed modernist project. If ‘development’ is better characterised as postmodernist or non-modernist then perhaps a different ethic is needed.Modernism postmodernism, mobility, non-modernity western science vs development science
Mobile Learning for Development: Current Key Challenges for the Research Community
Current Key Challenges for the Research Community<br />John Traxler<br />