Author Archives: ICTworks

How To Beautifully Visualize M&E Results in Microsoft Excel

Excel gets a bad rap for data visualization. I get it. I can barely stand to look at these ugly charts. Can you imagine sending a client something like this? To be honest, I can barely see the patterns that are supposed to be highlighted in these charts

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7 Aspirations for Better ICT4D in 2015

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Technology Salon NYC had another banner year of great discussions. To cap it off and start the 2015 series of events, we had a unique Salon. We shared our hopes and fears for 2015, with three amazing lead discussants to guide the conversation: Felicity Ruby, long-time activist and currently ThoughtWorks’ Director of Global Internet Policy; Abi Weaver, Director of the Global Technology Program at the American Red Cross; and Laura Walker Hudson, CEO of Social Impact Lab (SIMLab). Below I’ve organized the Tech Salon discussion into 7 aspirations for our sector in 2015. Keep an eye on these themes, and if you have ideas that weren’t mentioned at the Salon, go ahead and add them to the comments section!

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Why Good Geo-Mapping is Worth a Thousand Words

There’s no denying the importance of having the right information and data when it comes to planning, informing, analyzing, and monitoring and evaluating. How that information is displayed can have a surprising influence on the ease of understanding and interpreting the data. At the M&E Tech Conference I had the opportunity to talk about the strengths of using maps as a data visualization tool and shared some of the things we at Development Gateway and AidData have learned when integrating mapping into Aid Management Platforms around the world. The images below show two different ways to display funding information about projects taking place throughout Timor-Leste: a tabular report and a line graph. While they show the same information, they each have their own limitations: the report makes you dig for information, while the graph can’t show country context or other data layers

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The 5 Most Effective Educational Technology Interventions in LMICs

laptop child africa classroom technology wiki

There is enormous interest and investment in the potential of educational technology (edtech) to improve the quality of teaching and learning in low and lower-middle income countries. The primary aim of the DfID-funded Educational Technology Topic Guide is to contribute to what we know about the relationship between edtech and educational outcomes. Taking evidence from over 80 studies, the guide addresses the overarching question: What is the evidence that the use of edtech, by teachers or students, impacts teaching and learning practices, or learning outcomes? It also offers recommendations to support advisors to strengthen the design, implementation and evaluation of programmes that use edtech. Educational technology was defined as the use of digital or electronic technologies and materials to support teaching and learning.

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Monitoring and Evaluation vs. Good Management in Development

Last week, I was at the M&E Tech conference in Washington, DC. It was two days of discussion on how to better use technology for monitoring and evaluation of development projects, and how to monitor and evaluate the use of technology for development projects. So ICT4M&E as well as M&E for ICT4D. Got it?

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4 Ways to Properly Include Women in Your mHealth Initiative


Social norms and stigmas often lead to men owning mobile phones more often than women in many parts of the developing world. Sometimes when a woman does happen to acquire a phone, she even faces threats of violence because of her ownership. These unfortunate findings show that gender is one of the biggest issues in mHealth and ICT for Development in general. Unfortunately, according to a 2013 literature review, there has not been substantial research about gender relations in mHealth interventions. My name is Jack O’Rourke and I am a student at Fordham University.

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Accept the Smartphone Reality in Development


Recently, Elvis Mushi of Twaweza, shared with me interesting mobile phone survey results from his Sauti za Wananchi program. I find them remarkable in two ways. First, he found that 80% of Tanzanian households own at least 1 mobile phone. Then he found that mobile phone coverage reached 88% of the population. One of the largest and poorest populations now has near-ubiquitous mobile phone access.

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Drones for Development: Humanitarian Use Cases

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Satellite images have been used to support humanitarian efforts for decades. Why? A bird’s eye view of a disaster-affected area simply captures far more information than most Earth-based data-collection technologies can. In short, birds have more situational awareness than we do. In contrast to satellites, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAV) offer significantly higher-resolution imagery, are unobstructed by clouds, can be captured more quickly, by more groups and more often at a fraction of the cost with far fewer licensing and data-sharing restrictions than satellite imagery

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Please RSVP: If Mobile Phones Killed the Telecentre, What is Next for Public Internet Access?

IREX Tech Deep Dive – RSVP Now Back at the dawn of the digital divide conversation, leading organizations invested in telecentres — public spaces where people could access computers and learn about the Internet. Fast forward to today, where billions have a personal Internet in their pocket and use Facebook daily, and there is a real question if we still need public access Internet services in the age of the mobile phone. The conclusion of TASCHA’s report on “Why public access ICTs matter” is that we do, in fact, still need public access venues for the millions of people around the world who lack private access to the Internet’s ever-increasing cornucopia of vital information and services. For many, digital inclusion is found at their local public access ICT venue — a school, a library, a cybercafé, or yes, a telecentre.

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1st Toronto Tech Salon: How Can Technology Improve International Development?

May 21st Toronto Salon – RSVP Now We have all seen the pretty pictures of children playing with fancy new gadgets, and while the photos are uplifting, do they really signify progress? Does the introduction of new technology, specifically information and communication technologies like mobile phones, computers, and the Internet really accelerate the social and economic advancement of the developing world? Will Asian Tigers and African Lions use wireless communications and new big and open data systems to leapfrog legacy infrastructure and reap digital as well as demographic dividends? Or might we be overestimating the reach of modern technology? Could new solutions and their diffusion patterns inevitably widen the digital divide?

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Why Do RCT in ICT4D When You Can A/B Test?

Recently, D. Jerome Martin tweeted that he was happy that 50% of USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures grantees were conducting randomized control trials in their interventions. He felt it was a move in the right direction, that big data drives big impact. I disagree.

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How Indonesians Are Using ICT and Social Media for Disaster Management

This is cross-posted from Discover.ISIF.Asia a new website looking at ICT use in Asia and the Pacific. Subscribe by email to get more posts like this. Indonesia’s Internet penetration isn’t impressive – only 15% of its population is online. However, Indonesia is the fourth populous country, and 95.7 of its users who are online, are on social media (IPRA, 2013). 60 million Indonesians are on Facebook, trailing only the USA and India in total number of users, (Techiasia 2012, WeareSocial 2014)

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The Best Practices in the Use of ICTs in Development Are…

How are advances in communications technologies driving transformational change in development? United Methodist Communications recently published a discussion paper to help answer this question and to give ICT practitioners a list of the best practices in the use of ICTs for development. You can download the paper for free here. First, rising access to modern technologies is for the first time connecting millions of people around the world. In many parts of the world, access to a mobile phone is the first connection to a modern communications technology, leapfrogging over landlines, computers, and other technologies that preceded mobile phone access in the developed world.

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How to Ensure Long-Term Sustainability for a Computer Lab

Thanks to funding from the Internet Society Community Grant Program as well as from the Information Society Innovation Fund ( a computer learning lab has been established at the Chuuk Women’s Council! Our goal in establishing a computer lab in the Chuuk Women’s Council (CWC) is with the aim of empowering and connecting, with ICT, the women of Chuuk State, in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). The Chuuk Women’s Council is an established umbrella organization for the different women’s organizations across Chuuk State, which promotes women’s leadership, education on health and gender issues, environmental conservation, practical skills-building for employment opportunities, and the preservation of traditional and cultural crafts. Given the existing strengths of the center and the breadth of the programs already on offer, we believe that the technology of this computer lab will serve to complement and enable this organization that is already extremely successful in its non-technical endeavors. In planning the computer lab, we looked at five key ways to assure long-term sustainability: Computer Hardware (Rugged, Portable, Low Energy Usage, Good Performance & a Webcam) Software (Office Software, Typing Aid, Basic ICT Skill Modules, & Virus Protection) Internet Access (WiFi, Bandwidth) Training (Basic ICT, Email, Web Searching, Office Software) Support and Maintenance (Shares, Onsite, Software/Hardware Repair  & Remote Troubleshooting) With our solution requirements and guidelines, a plan was developed and agreed upon with project partners

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