On January 11, 2011 from 11-12am, TechChange co-hosted a tweet chat with Linda Raftree (@meowtree) from Plan International to gauge interest in ICT for Development (ICT4D) distance learning and get a better sense of what would appeal most to potential students. In total, the chat included an impressive 401 tweets, with 59 people participating. Our hashtag, #ict4ddl, was even a top trending topic in Washington DC at around 11:30. Throughout the hour, we covered a lot of ground, ranging from course content to length to delivery. Here’s the archive.

Themes and Highlights:

Course Topics: Some of the most popular ideas for courses included: social media for social change, sustainability, mobiles for development, and a course on ways to create and sustain collaboration through an online community. It was pointed out that users needs would be different based on access to and familiarity with technology. @fiona_bradley mentioned the need for strategic thinking and project planning for veteran change agents, because “tools change fast”.

Delivery: There was a desire expressed for blended learning models (face-to-face and online) and a sentiment that ICT4D face-to-face training was important. (list of existing ICT4D programs). There was also a feeling that experienced practitioners should be part of the course experience and that more needs to be done to engage them (@ICT_Works). Others stressed the fact that distance learning is the only option for those working in remote areas.

Credit vs. Certification: People generally preferred courses for credit, but some acknowledged that they had neither the time nor the funding for a full university degree course. Shorter-term certificate courses on specific topics appealed to many in the group.

The feedback we received throughout the tweet chat was quite useful, and as expected there was a wide variety of opinions expressed. As TechChange moves forward, we look forward to tailoring our courses to the needs of these and other users. We’re in the process of developing a 10-week online flagship course on Technology for Social Change. Everyone will be able access Unit 1 for free. From there we will develop more specialized courses and certification programs on subjects such as Technology for crisis response, Social media for social change, mHealth, and the Future of mobile devices for development. We are also working with individual organizations such as FrontlineSMS to create learning tools tailored specifically for their applications.

Thanks again to Linda Raftree (@meowtree) for helping to organize the tweet chat and to all of the participants for your time and energy. We look forward to keeping you posted on our progress. Also, feel free to be in touch with us –- we’d love your input.