Monday, March 16, 2015

Digital Technology for Community Engagement: A talk at the University of Alberta Faculty of Extension

University of Alberta, Faculty of Extension, Engagement Talks

On Thursday, March 12 the project Research Team was pleased to present our preliminary findings at the University of Alberta Faculty of Extension Engagement Talks. The audience comprised researchers and students interested in the use of text messaging for mobilizing knowledge in communities of practice.

The speakers were challenged to a discussion on the choice of using text messaging over other technologies. The pre-campaign survey results on the Farmers' choice of technology use is illustrated in the bargraph in the image below. It clearly shows that voice calls and radio are the technologies used mostly for seeking agriculture information. The question was, "why did the campaigns chose FrontlineSMS to serve in the preliminary activities of the campaign?"

Ken Banks, Kiwanja Foundation, illustrates in his social mobile's long tail graph that simple + low cost implementations are probabilistically higher to replicate. Therefore, the participatory approach to the campaign design along with the rapid prototyping exercises realized that the simple to use FrontlineSMS text-messaging would foster an immediate win and confidence building for the Community, Technology Stewards, and the Sponsors. Freedom Fone Interactive Voice Response system was perceived to be relatively complex and the chances of replication proved cumbersome. However, now that the primary campaign activities are complete and have proven success, the Department of Export Agriculture and Rangiri Radio Station are moving in to IVR supported implementations.
Farmers' choice of technology and preliminary campaign's choice of technology
  Other discussions were on the stratification of gender and age in realizing the disparities in the survey results. However, out analysis shows that there were no noticeable difference between the two genders in their choice of answer. The farmers interviewed were all between the age of 35-50 and the surveys did not capture youth farmers, for example.

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