Lessons from the field: What researchers learned from evaluating ICT platforms for rural development and education
The field of information and communication technology for development is a field constantly changing as new ICT tools emerge and new knowledge gained by field researchers while performing their duties. The research problem: The field ICT field is littered with examples of failed projects because field researchers did not know the best way to carry out their work. The paper is about knowledge imparted by six monitoring and evaluation field researchers after working for almost eight years, from 2010 to 2018, in ICT platforms projects. These platforms were deployed across South Africa’s remote rural areas. The work followed interpretivism as its philosophy and was underpinned by qualitative research methods. Written projects reports, face-to-face interviews and questionnaires were used to collect data and also to triangulate the findings. The participatory evaluation formed the basis for the complete understanding of the finding. (i) Planning; (ii) Deployment; and iii) Usage were found to be critical elements for a successful implementation of ICT platform. Although well planned, numerous lessons were still learned for the benefit of future projects.