Welcome to my blog!!! When thinking about the themes this blog should consider, I decided to combine my interest in reflecting on the triumphs, debates, and follies of ICT4D with my passion for all aspects of the increasingly important and emerging area of gender, learning and mobiles (what I will hereafter refer to by the acronym of “G.L.a.M.”).
I know there are a number of voices out there already talking about the first of these two themes, but where I hope to be different is by considering the gendered dimensions and implications of ICT4D since so often this component of an intervention is merely a box to be checked on the way to having a project completed. The importance of gender and ICT4D has been written about since at least the 1970s, yet we still see that discussions about gender in ICT4D are often essentialized to how many women and girls have taken part in an intervention.
For the second theme, G.L.a.M. is an idea that I have been passionate about since taking a course titled “Technology in Education” in my Master’s program in Applied Linguistics. It was during this course that I first became aware of mobile learning, and I was stunned I had never thought of this possible use of technology before! This course made me think back to my time spent in Equatorial Guinea and Madagascar, where resources in schools were short but mobile phones were increasingly ubiquitous, even among people of the female gender. Yet use of mobiles as a learning tool cannot be imagined in a vacuum; indeed, like all technology, mobiles also have gendered dimensions and implications of use. So what relationships might gender, learning, and mobiles have with each other? This is an area this blog hopes to contribute the most to.
The idea to explore G.L.a.M. in-depth solidified for me after attending the 2012 eLearning Africa conference in Benin. During a session chaired by Shafika Isaacs (an eLearning extraordinaire!) on the various stakeholder views on mobile learning, a topic of discussion that arose was the need to speak more about the gendered dimensions and implications of use of mobile phones in learning contexts: An attendee mentioned how in all the excitement for gender and mobile learning, no one seemed to be talking about things like an incident in South Africa where mobile phones were used by boys (many of whom were students) to film the gang rape of a school girl. There are also the stories of school girls obtaining mobile phones through “sugar daddies,” where payments for the purchase of the phones often have dubious origins. At times, G.L.a.M. may touch on subjects that are uncomfortable yet absolutely necessary to talk about if some of the more grandiose visions in this field are to be realized. However, gendered discussions of technology do not all have to be “doom and gloom”, and in this blog I will strive to highlight both the positive and negative aspects of two very complex, intertwining topics.
This blog will discuss G.L.a.M. initiatives around the world, and special attention will be given to my own PhD research in this area. This work is constantly evolving but at the moment the conceptual framework will focus on learner-initiated (and teacher-supported) mobile-based communities of practice and gender, technology, and equity with the specific lens of groups of secondary school girls in Kenya. More on how this topic came to be of interest to me, and the need for research in this area, will be explored in future blog postings.
For now, I reiterate my warm welcome and hope that you will enjoy taking this blog journey with me. If so inclined, please follow me on Twitter @GLaM_mobileLeo, where I most frequently share ICT4D news.