About this paper

Appears in:
Page: 6553 (abstract only)
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.2491

Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain

APPS DEVELOPMENT AS A CATALYZER OF MOBILE LITERACY: BRIDGING ACADEMIA AND RURAL COMMUNITIES IN SOUTH AFRICA

L. Dalvit

Rhodes University (SOUTH AFRICA)
South Africa is a very unequal society and a rift exists between academia and the lived reality of most population. Besides teaching and research, South African universities are encouraged to redress the legacy of Apartheid through engagement with previously marginalized members of rural and peri-urban communities. The goal of this paper is to show how this was achieved through an intervention focusing on the development of context-responsive mobile apps as catalyzers of mobile literacy.

Dwesa is a marginalized rural community on the Wild Coast of the former homeland of Transkei. Since 2005 it is the site of the Siyakhula Living Lab. The living lab approach emphasizes collaboration and participation of target users in the development of local solutions to local problems. Postgraduate students in the school of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University engaged with members of the local community in a series of workshops. These involved the transfer of skills on how to create and edit videos using a mobile phone and on the development of mobile apps using an off-the-shelf visual programming tool. These initiatives served as opportunities for mobile literacy training, local empowerment and data collection. Community members learned to use their mobile phones to record self-directed narratives highlighting actual and potential uses of mobile phones to address local challenges (e.g. managing micro-credit groups, selling local products locally and organizing transport to the nearest town).

A set of local issues were identified, formalized and proposed as possible topics in a software development marathon by volunteer programmers. This event, also known as a hackathon, was organized in collaboration with the Bruno Kessler Foundation in Italy as part of an international collaboration. Rhodes students and members of the Dwesa community participated in the event as mentors and judges respectively. The success of this initiative is evidenced by the enthusiastic feedback from participants as well as by the relevance of the winning solution (a Web application to offer/request lifts and highlight obstacles on the road).

Key lessons learnt are the need for:
1) a more formal and structured process for issue identification and community members’ involvement;
2) A concrete implementation path to sustain the involvement of all stakeholders. A bridge between the Dwesa community, Rhodes University and the Bruno Kessler Foundation was consolidated through integration of collaborative app development into the curriculum of a professional development course for local teachers.
@InProceedings{DALVIT2017APP,
author = {Dalvit, L.},
title = {APPS DEVELOPMENT AS A CATALYZER OF MOBILE LITERACY: BRIDGING ACADEMIA AND RURAL COMMUNITIES IN SOUTH AFRICA},
series = {9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN17 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-697-3777-4},
issn = {2340-1117},
doi = {10.21125/edulearn.2017.2491},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2017.2491},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {3-5 July, 2017},
year = {2017},
pages = {6553}}
TY - CONF
AU - L. Dalvit
TI - APPS DEVELOPMENT AS A CATALYZER OF MOBILE LITERACY: BRIDGING ACADEMIA AND RURAL COMMUNITIES IN SOUTH AFRICA
SN - 978-84-697-3777-4/2340-1117
DO - 10.21125/edulearn.2017.2491
PY - 2017
Y1 - 3-5 July, 2017
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN17 Proceedings
SP - 6553
EP - 6553
ER -
L. Dalvit (2017) APPS DEVELOPMENT AS A CATALYZER OF MOBILE LITERACY: BRIDGING ACADEMIA AND RURAL COMMUNITIES IN SOUTH AFRICA, EDULEARN17 Proceedings, p. 6553.
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