ICT4SD 2021 Conference
I had the pleasure to participate in the 6th International Conference on Information & Communication Technology for Sustainable Development (ICT4SD) 2021, that took place in a hybrid mode on 5-6th August 2021 in Goa, India. I virtually presented a research paper on exploring Digital Storytelling as an e-learning tool to foster Sustainable Development, which I co-authored with Dr Hasnain Bokhari, a lecturer at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy.
India and ICTs
When we talk about India, the numbers are usually very high because of the massive population of the country. The high numbers and diversity within the country make it almost indispensable to have local solutions which are easily adaptable and accessible to different groups of people without leaving anyone behind.
Despite the progress in technology and increase in the number of internet users (2nd in the world), almost half of India’s population does not have internet access. As globalization and advancement in technology put pressure on various sectors to continuously acquire and apply new changes, the process is failing the very people it should benefit the most.
Furthermore, the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed these inequalities in access, as nearly 375 million children are likely to face losses in education and employability. With private schools having the advantage of turning their classes to digital mode using high-tech software like Google Meet and Zoom, the government schools in low-income areas face severe disruptions in their daily operations.
Digital Storytelling and e-Learning
Digital storytelling is an innovative pedagogical approach that combines a variety of multimedia and communication elements in a narrative structure to share stories, experiences and explain a specific topic. UNESCO has acknowledged digital storytelling as a platform to enhance learning outcomes as it promotes student-centric methods of engagement.
In our paper, we discussed a case study of an Indian NGO “Going to School” (GTS) that uses design-driven stories and graphic novels. The NGO specially focuses on girls’ retention in school and their transition from school to equitable work, sustainable enterprise of their choice. The pandemic opened a new window of opportunity for GTS to come up with a holistic approach to make education available and accessible. GTS went back to the deep-rooted tradition of storytelling in India and used technology to create digital stories which were broadcasted over multiple communication channels by forming partnerships for better outreach. While concluding the paper, we recommended increasing the education budget of the country and creating an enabling environment for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to strengthen their work in supporting the government.
Research Collaboration and Experience
The impetus to write the paper for this conference stemmed from the Independent Study Unit (ISU) that I undertook within the module "International Affairs, Cooperation and Development" (winter semester 2020) under the guidance of Dr Bokhari. During the course, I studied the role of Information and Communication Technologies for Sustainable Human Development. I extensively reviewed different theoretical concepts of ICT4SD as an academic discipline. Hence, as a part of my course, I wrote a term paper focusing on ICTs and their role in access to education.
The research area of ICTs for education prompted my interest in the topic of Digital Storytelling and Tech4Good. Subsequently, along with Dr. Bokhari, I started exploring further ideas to write entirely different paper to present at the ICT4SD 2021 conference. Both of us agreed to focus on looking into a case of e-learning, especially in the given circumstances where the whole world is forced to switch to digital learning. It was important to understand within the context of countries like India where digital literacy rates are low and access to infrastructure is limited. The paper titled “Digital Storytelling and ICTs for Education to Foster Sustainable Development” went through a successful blind peer review process, and I presented it via Zoom on 5th August 2021. The paper will be published by Springer Verlag.
This is my second research paper that I co-authored with Dr. Bokhari. I am most grateful to him for giving me this opportunity to go through the process of co-authoring my second research paper with him. His insights in the subject of ICT4D were very useful to get a constructive feedback and be able to present the research paper at an international conference.
There were multiple lessons that I learned co-authoring this research paper.
- Reading an exhaustive list of literature on Tech4Good, ICT4SD have helped us channelize our ideas for this paper.
- It is very important to ask guiding questions to each other when collaborating for joint research, it helps to create a clear flow of the research paper.
- Creating a literature and data management plan, helped us outline how the literature/data etc will be shared and used in the paper.
I am extremely thankful to Dr. Bokhari for encouraging me and providing unique opportunities like these. It was an enriching experience to apply the classroom learnings to the practical world. I am also indebted to the Brandt School for supporting me to participate in the conference and always appreciating the efforts of its students.
 The Print, As digital divide widens, India risks losing a generation to pandemic disruption. [Online].Available: https://theprint.in/india/education/as-digital-divide-widens-india-risks-losing-a-generation-to-pandemic disruption/568394/, accessed 2021/03/24
 The Hindu, “India’s pandemic generation | 375 million children will suffer poor health, educational losses, says Centre for Science and Environment study - The Hindu,” 2021, last accessed 2021/03/06
About the author
Komal Ramdey is a second-year student of Master of Public Policy (2019- 2021). She was born and raised in India. She completed her graduation in Biotechnology and a Post-graduation in Environmental Sciences from Panjab University, Chandigarh. Before joining the MPP programme, Komal has worked for 5 years in the areas of WASH, rural development, sports4development with organizations like UNOPS, State Bank of India Foundation & Naz Foundation. Her broad field of interest are Finance for Sustainable Development, Social Entrepreneurship, gender inequalities, Tech4Good & Sexual & Reproductive Health.
~ The views represented in this blog post do not necessarily represent those of the Brandt School. ~