After a whirlwind four days, the 4th ICTD conference, held in Atlanta, Georgia, was concluded. The event, which brought together the most passionate thinkers, researchers, and some practitioners, was a learning event for all. The event was well run and kept to the schedule (uncommon in most conferences!) thanks in large part to the planning of the conference organizers, especially the co-Chairs from Georgia Tech’s Michael Best and Ellen Zegura.
The last day of the conference was in break-out style again – making it difficult to choose which sessions to attend (so many interesting-sounding ones going on at the same time!). In the morning, iHub Research attended a session considering the added value of the capabilities approach for ICTD research and practice. One interesting point mentioned there was that “Many people think that technology is neutral but others argue that tech is not neutral and has hegemonic means. That debate is very important to keep in mind.” The session chair also advocated for more theory at the next ICTD 2013 conference.
Following the first session, we joined the “Educating Technologists for Development in Africa” session which brought together many of the Africa-based scholars to discuss how to include ICT for D in education. Some of the questions discussed included: Is the D implicitly there or explicitly there?; How do you spread the good results from places where things are going well to places where there are gaps?; How do you make the D happen?; What discipline does ICTD fall under in the university setting?. Some points raised included the need to teach people to think critically because any ICTD program builds on top of existing an education system. Did you know that Liberia does not have any Computer Science program at the university level? How can you talk about ICTD without a CS Department? The session finished with a call to arms: “What are YOU doing in your little way to change the issues you see? We can’t wait for government or this or that NGO…”
After lunch, Heather Leson, Ushahidi’s Director of Community Engagement, was on a panel run by infoDev, about the Role of ICTs in Post-Conflict Situations. iHub Research attended a session on “Utilization-focused Evaluation” framework research on research funded by the IDRC. At the core of the evaluation framework was the notion that the evaluation should be judged by their utility and actual use (Patton 2008).
Overall, the conference seemed to be a big hit with most in the crowd. iHub Research looks forward to ICTD 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa and aims to have an active role in the next conference!
people’s comments: twitter.com/#!/ictd2012
photos from the conference: flickr.com/photos/ictd2012