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Article cross-posted on the TechChange Blog

TechChange is excited to announce a new partnership with Transitions (TOL), a Prague-based journalism and media training organization with a focus on the post-communist countries of Europe and the former Soviet Union. Running a variety of programs – from the publication of one of the first online magazines to cover political, social, economic and cultural issues in the region since 1999, to providing young reporters with intensive training on best journalistic practices  – TOL has been a regional leader on media and democracy building efforts.

Bringing their expertise on media and journalism development to their target region through our eLearning environment, TOL will be running their course: “Reporting on Education,”  adapting a course that the Guardian Foundation originally created for TOL and the BBC’s iLearn platform. And though journalist training is a broad endeavor, even when focusing on a particular region, we’re hoping that this course will help to not only train journalists, but also to elevate national and regional policy dialogue on the issues of educational reform, open governance and democratic accountability. ...continue reading "A New Partnership to Provide Online Training for Media Professionals in E. Europe"

Article cross-posted on the TechChange Blog

Best practices conferences are critical to the growth of any community. The sharing of ideas and capturing of collective lessons-learned allows for those both in attendance, and those reading any after-action report, to proceed with their respective related projects having gained new insight, or having made new partnerships with other like-minded individuals and organizations. However, just as websites are now building responsive design as “mobile first” and desktop second, it’s time to start thinking about these events differently. No longer should we think only about planning offline events that “we webcast,” but rather about global conversations facilitated by online engagement that have an in-person conversation or presentation at its core. ...continue reading "Online-first event planning: Leave the bagels, keep the connectivity"

Author: Dumisani Moyo

Dumisani Moyo examines the role that mobile phones played in the 2008 elections in Zimbabwe. Comparing this election to previous elections in the region, the article looks at the role that organizations such as Kubatana, Sangonet, and Fahamu utilized mass SMS systems such as FrontlineSMS to communicate breaking news in a timely fashion to wide audiences. Ultimately, Moyo makes the argument that mobile phones have the power to shift election monitoring responsibilities from observer missions, which are increasingly political institutions over time, to citizen monitors, which he sees as the most impartial and effective form of election observer.

In comparison to other studies that largely focus on cellphone diffusion rates, this article examines the specific ways in which SMS systems were used during elections, and argues that these communication tools have changed the level of agency in the individual. Also taking an institutional approach to his analysis, Moyo notes that traditional, in-person election monitoring, is greatly hindered by the inability of international observers to be physically present at all voting sights both because of a shortage of staff relative to voting sites, but as well as because of the potential for violence in the region.  Often “political tensions are high, certain areas are declared ‘no-go areas’, where observers are discouraged to visit.” Again, by being empowered to communicate messages to wide audiences, individuals are not only able to exercise their own voice, but also play a critical role in improving mass efforts at electoral oversight and good governance.

Just as a final, and somewhat integral point made in the article: Having a phone doesn’t necessarily make one a citizen journalist. In countries where cell phone diffusion is the highest (eg. South Africa), there is some of the least amount of civic activism/citizen journalism. Rather, it takes “knowledge about the capacity of the technology, an organising force at the centre and often some funding to provide the necessary equipment or software that makes distribution of bulk messages possible”

Article Reviewed: Moyo, Dumisani, The New Media as Monitors of Democracy: Mobile Phones and Zimbabwe’s 2008 Election, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, Paper presented at the Conference on Election Processes, Liberation Movements and Democratic Change in Africa, Organized by IESE and CMI, Maputo, 8-11 April 2010

 

This past May we published a blog piece outlining some of the basic lessons learned from TechWeek at Korbel. One of the main takeaways was that technology solutions, though a potentially powerful set of tools, are only 10% tech and 90% people power. This includes not only putting people in the drivers seat for the use of these tools over time, but also when considering the design of systems at the onset of any project, and the need, or gap, they are intended to fill. A few months later, these lessons have become ever more salient as my team from the University of Denver works on the design of a maternal and child health monitoring system for the community of Josola – a high risk population that borders the Yamuna river in New Delhi, India, and consequently suffers from high child and maternal mortality rates. ...continue reading "Field Update: Lessons Learned from Designing Community Based M&E Systems in Jasola"

Alrighty. The project has started to take shape over the past few days, and it has become clear that there is a bit of mapping work to do in order to streamline the information flow between health providers and patients. To start, the region of Jasola has different road systems if you look at google and bing, and doesn't really exist on Open Street Map. Google is actually pretty good.... though I think a team will be going through and checking on the roads with GPS units this coming week. We can then compare Googlemaps to OSM and see what looks right.

The reason we need the maps to be right is so that we can work to create an information system that provides up-to-date information on the availability of health clinics in the region to supply services and medicine to those who need it most, and hopefully in a timely fashion. A number of surveys have been conducted in the past on what health centers are currently available, though much of that information doesn't make it to the child or mother simply due to information sharing problems. As such, we figured it would be great if we could find a way to keep this information regularly updated on a system that all can access. ...continue reading "Pilot Testing Online Mapping Systems for Health Provider Analysis and Response"

As we weaved through the rush hour traffic, heading east from the airport in a small four-door vehicle, I was immediately taken aback by the apparent Nascar-esque aspirations of the taxi driver. You know that turn toward the end of the race where the one guy pulls around the outer edge of the lane, speeding towards the finish line as the rest of his opponents gun for second, third, and fourth? Yep. That was us.

Then I realized that everyone was gunning for first place…. Yikes… ...continue reading "Hello Delhi"

TC105: Thoughts on Mobile Money for Development.

Great recap of TC105 by Chrissy Martin

"A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of supporting the TechChange Mobiles for Development (TC105) course as a moderator. I was interviewed for the course by co-founder Nick Martin, which stimulated a interesting conversation with many of the highly experienced and knowledgeable course participants. Excerpts from that interviews are below."

I've had my Apogee Duet 2 for about a year now, but it was until recently that I really had the chance to test out its abilities as a preamp for tracking multiple instruments and layering them together in a DAW. That said - here are my thoughts on this amazing little device:

The Duet 2, for those of you who haven't had the chance to use one, is a two line in four line out box with one button on it - that uses a set of breakout cables to handle the ins and outs. Kind of like an iPad or iPhone: it's incredibly minimal. One big knob that functions as a controller for a variety of purposes - from switching between sources, to controlling the volume - it's a very intuitive design. ...continue reading "Review: Apogee Duet 2"


Originally Posted on the TechChange Blogroll

Anyone who has planned a conference knows that they’re a lot of work. Lining up speakers. Coordinating room schedules. Coming up with discussion topics. Promoting the event so that people show up. And, oh yeah... learning stuff! That’s important too.

The event we’re talking about here is TechWeek@DU, which ran from April 16th - 19th at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies in Denver, Colorado, and was brought together by the school's Global Health Affairs Program, Humanitarian Assistance Program, and the Center for Sustainable Development and International Peace. Five events in four days involving experts from Denver, Washington DC, and the greater Boston area, and discussing some of the most pressing issues in and around ICT4D. From crisis mapping to mHealth - for a week the Korbel School had tech on its mind. ...continue reading "Lessons Learned from TechWeek@DU"