Author: Barbara Barry and Landon Newby
Year: 2012
Agency: UNESCO
Full Citation: Barry, B., & Newby, L. (2012). Use of technology in emergency and post-crisis situations. IIEP – UNESCO.
Overview: Within recent years, information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been playing an increasingly important role within the field of education in emergencies. This can be seen not only in the use of ICTs by humanitarian workers for their information, coordination and communication needs during emergency preparedness, response and recovery, but also in the increasing potential for ICTs to be used for improving education provision and access during an emergency (IIEP-UNESCO, 2010). As new technologies continue to be developed and existing technologies continue to penetrate deeper into developing and crisis affected communities, the question arises:
  • What opportunities can new technologies offer as catalysts for overcoming certain obstacles facing education in emergencies and post-crisis situations and for improving agencies’ various activities in these difficult contexts?
This report seeks to address and explore this question. This report is not intended to provide prescriptive technology approaches for global education actors to universally apply at national or local levels; rather, it is intended to provide key examples of current and potential uses of technology that could realistically be implemented within education in emergencies and post-crisis situations.
Findings: This report presents the study’s findings of examples of technology and projects which are relevant to education stakeholders in emergencies. The different examples are organized according to four major areas of activity and subdivided into several specific activities. The four major areas are:
  • Information management;
  • Coordination;
  • Capacity building and knowledge sharing;
  • Providing access to education in emergencies.
A fifth and final sub-section is also explored due to its applicability to the four areas of activity listed above:
  • ICT provision and acquisition.
One general, cross-cutting finding that was discovered during interviews, literature reviews, and conferences is the importance of letting user needs and practices drive technology choice, use, and integration. In contrast, overly focusing on the promotion of certain devices or of certain software hinders integration and effectiveness and can result in user resistance. This is compounded by the frequent lack of capacity to utilize and implement technology, especially in the heightened situation of a crisis. In addition, pushing certain devices or software can lead to a mismatch of technologies with the existing infrastructure, the culture of use, and user needs while driving up costs, particularly those associated with capacity building. This general finding is essential to education stakeholders looking to implement various technologies; attempts have been made to incorporate it throughout the recommendations presented below.
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