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AFRIK-IT  February 2006

AFRIK-IT February 2006

Subject:

Re: MSc ICTs for Development - Seeking Feedback

From:

"Donald Z. Osborn" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Sat, 11 Feb 2006 02:39:40 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (114 lines)

Richard, This sounds like an interesting program concept. I agree with Akwasi
that it could appeal mainly to students from the South (given sufficient
scholarship opportunities) but have some other comments.

First, your question (a) ("whether you see there would be a demand for such a
qualification") could be read two ways. First as Akwasi does and I did at
first, thinking about interest among potential students. In addition to
Southern students, I think there might also be some significant interest among
mostly Northern people who do volunteer development work relating to
ICT (Peace Corps, with which I was recently on the staff in Niger, VSO, other
national services, and also Geekcorps). Many of these volunteers get interested
in careers in development and/or graduate study in an area related to the work
they did (or in another area that were inspired by their experience to strive
for).

The other kind of demand of course is from international NGOs, donors, etc. who
might hire the products of such a program (which I realize is probably the main
thrust of this question). My guess is yes there would be a demand, especially as
ICT in development is only likely to increase in importance, even as it
diversifies and becomes more complex. You may want to pose this question on
lists such as DigitalDivide (DDN) and Telecentres to get reaction there.

A lot depends of course on how the program is designed, which is what your
question (b) - the proposed content of such a programme - seeks advice on.
Personally I think that the "C" in ICT looms large. Communications as a
discipline and a practical aspect of development work could in some
institutions be the academic home for such a degree and provide methodology
etc. It's not my field so others may have more to say on this aspect.

In any event, returning to the potential employers and what they seek, I think
that this degree has the advantage of combining in one person the skills of
someone more technically qualified with those of one more knowledgeable on
diverse aspects of development work. That may or may not be a big advantage -
often I think that organizations at some point seek people of complementary
specializations to work together. SOmeone who is kind of expert in two related
areas for a project may not fit in a program where a manager (used to a range
of issues related to the project) needs a high technical skills expert and high
development methods expert. The strength of this degree might have to be in that
it imparts a real theoretical and practical understanding of how a range of ICTs
can be appropriately used to enhance communication and information flows in a
development context.

I hope this makes some sense, as I'm thinking as I go here.

One additional point on program content - in addition to what you mention and
Akwasi's list I would add localization as an essential part of the curriculum.
It is becoming more of a concern in business as well as development and
products of your program should have at least an idea of what it is as well as
perhaps an option to specialize in localization of ICTs in a development
context.

All the best.

Don


Don Osborn, Ph.D.         [log in to unmask]
*Bisharat! A language, technology & development initiative
*Bisharat! Initiative langues - technologie - dveloppement
http://www.bisharat.net



Quoting akwasi adjei <[log in to unmask]>:

> Hi Richard,
>  Such a program will be beneficial to students coming from third
> world countries including myself. Unfortunately, third world students
> are still traditional. However they will find it difficult to place
> it under any of the traditional mainstream courses. Doing that will
> help them identify their career choice after school
>  What "traditional" department does this course relate to. Business?
> Sociology?
>  I am not an expert on the subject but it might be difficult
> attracting students from third world countries with the current
> title. I would propose that the course be labelled Msc Development
> informatics .
>  I would like to see the course content involve
>  1. Management INformaition Systems
>  2. Economics
>  3. International Information Technology Law
>  4. Databases
>  5. Organizational Change
>  6. Topics and Issues in Offshoring.
>  7. Telecommunications Mangement
>
>
> Dr Richard Heeks <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>  Here at the University of Manchester, we have a proposal to
> launch a one-year, UK-based MSc programme in ICTs for
> Development. This would combine skills in management of IT
> projects, and information systems, with understanding of the
> development context, and the role of ICTs in the development
> process.
>
> I would be grateful for any feedback on:
>
> a) whether you see there would be a demand for such a
> qualification.
>
> b) the proposed content of such a programme.
>
> With thanks
> Richard Heeks
> Development Informatics Group
> University of Manchester, UK
> [log in to unmask]
>
>
>
> ---------------------------------
> Yahoo! Mail
> Use Photomail to share photos without annoying attachments.

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