About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 7736-7745
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-84-617-8491-2
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2017.1791

Conference name: 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2017
Location: Valencia, Spain

BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE THROUGH PARTICIPATORY ACTION RESEARCH AND INCLUSIVE COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS

S. Pailla1, K. Venter2

1University of Virginia (UNITED STATES)
2University of Free State (SOUTH AFRICA)
World leaders drafted a new vision for sustainable access to essential human services in 2015, as a follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals laid in 2000. Emerging in this new list is an increased focus on information and communication technology (ICT). Over the last decade ICT has undeniably accelerated the ability of service providers, governments, and non-governmental organizations in delivering critical services such as water and education. However, according to the Pew Research Center, one out of three people still do not have access to the internet or a smartphone – a digital divide that is further pronounced when comparing between advanced and developing economies.

Given this broader context, our research explores a new service and technology methodology through which solutions may be brought to address digital divides. We propose “inclusive communication systems methodology” (ICSM) to guide the recommendation of building or selecting technological solutions to solve communication problems caused by digital divides. ICSM is motivated by three main principles: multi-directional stakeholder dialogue, affordability to end-user, and accessibility to end-user.

We present an international, interdisciplinary application of our methodology in the domain of health and education. The collaboration took place in rural South Africa, where only 42% of the population have access to internet or have a smartphone. We use a mixed methods research approach that employs participatory action research on the backbones of service learning and systems engineering disciplines. Three projects were conducted with specific use cases with an intentionally economically and geographically diverse user base. The use cases included: multi-user reflection before, during, and after a nursing project with a rural clinic; multi-user coordination of logistics with stakeholder leaders from the clinic; and informal question and answer engagement with stakeholders in an urban shelter. Our initial observations include increased and new types of participation, particularly from rural-based stakeholders. Research leaders noted an increased enthusiasm during in-person visits, as well as new sources of frustration from application failings. Image-based training manuals were identified as a means of bridging user errors. The content of the dialogue demonstrated a positive, appreciative tone with all stakeholders. In coherence with the principle of reciprocity in service learning, we shared our findings on content. We were also transparent about the application’s failings to encourage stakeholder participation in redesign and iterative improvements. Future plans include longer-term engagements and impact-level outcome observations, such as improved information sharing from stakeholders and correlated healthcare visits.
@InProceedings{PAILLA2017BRI,
author = {Pailla, S. and Venter, K.},
title = {BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE THROUGH PARTICIPATORY ACTION RESEARCH AND INCLUSIVE COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS},
series = {11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2017 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-617-8491-2},
issn = {2340-1079},
doi = {10.21125/inted.2017.1791},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/inted.2017.1791},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {6-8 March, 2017},
year = {2017},
pages = {7736-7745}}
TY - CONF
AU - S. Pailla AU - K. Venter
TI - BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE THROUGH PARTICIPATORY ACTION RESEARCH AND INCLUSIVE COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS
SN - 978-84-617-8491-2/2340-1079
DO - 10.21125/inted.2017.1791
PY - 2017
Y1 - 6-8 March, 2017
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2017 Proceedings
SP - 7736
EP - 7745
ER -
S. Pailla, K. Venter (2017) BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE THROUGH PARTICIPATORY ACTION RESEARCH AND INCLUSIVE COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS, INTED2017 Proceedings, pp. 7736-7745.
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