Technology transfer is defined as a process of changing research into economic development, it is a process where new application to improve the existing technology are introduced and licensing intellectual property to a manufacturer for production in a product is done in order to safeguard the rights of the owner of that technology. Sometime technology transfer involves making idea that is in the mind of someone to come into real practice or recording concepts of technology know-how in a professional paper or patent application Equipment, skills, abilities, knowledge, systems and processes necessary to make things happen in order to improve how a particular service is being given. The ICT transfer process is usually is cyclic in nature rather than being linear since there is always a regular introduction of new technologies into the existing projects and the process is always very different from function to another function because technology serves different needs and services.
ICT includes all the technologies which can make possible communication and transfer of information services to take place. From the late 20th century, faster advances in technology changed the traditional way of information communication and transfer. These technological advancements have changed the way business is done and the way people communicate. There has been improvement of the old services and introduction of new ones. In the 1990s the rise of the use of the internet has enabled the developing and developed world to increase the possibility of easy association; it has helped the developing countries to skip certain steps of industrial development to get earlier development (Duncombe, 2007: 1). Developing countries like India have therefore moved ahead and created investment in ICT and tried to use it into its development programs in order to obtain the fruits of developments. This report will looks at how ICTs in general and ItrainOnline which is in the United Kingdom has improved India ICT. ItrainOnline is a joint group of OneWorld, Bellanet, APC, IICD, INASP and IISD. It is an internet based company which provides computer and Internet training for improvement of development. In this case study I have selected “Indev” which is a Indian company which uses ICT and ItrainOnline to carry out training online.
Indev belongs to the British Council and it is an online training company which was established with an aim of improving development in India through providing information on development issues which could be used by the government of India, the nongovernmental organizations working in India and other development institutions working in India. Indev has utilise ItrainOnline and It is the first development portal site in India provides information and links to more than two thousands five hundreds leading organizations, which have their projects India hosted by the British council.
There are uncountable NGOs working in India and major of them have their sites and use the Internet as their publishing medium. Indev through ItrainOnline therefore has noticed this problem and has moved in to try and provide all information for these NGOs. Considering the number of NGOs working in India, Indev utilizes several criteria to carefully filter the information it receives so as to only show quality information. Only those NGOs who have fulfilled the criteria of giving quality of information have been included and all NGOs included in the online database have registered as a society (Freeman 1987: 77).
Of the total staff members of Indev, two of them are in charge of training. Theses trainers have been working for Indev from the time Indev introduced the training option. The web developments courses are always given request by the members and the members usually pay for their own accommodation and travel costs. Indev, with support forum UNICEF and other organizations and partners pays for the equipment, facilities and tuition fee. The courses are targeted at Non-governmental organizations all over India that do not have websites, but the participants need to have basic computer skills before to getting trained on how to make websites.
The course usually is a three day training which the participants are taught on how to build a website using Mozilla fire fox and other already established templates provided by Indev. Also as one of the trainer at Indev notes, the open source philosophy is very much in line with Indev's philosophy since Mozilla is simple and it's good for a first website and from there it's easy to proceed to other tools thereby enabling all the students of the three day course showing off the site they have built using an LCD projector to enable the trainer to evaluate if the students have been educated on website production. Developing software by a community of peer reviewed activists, participants and employees for the community can be extended to social and economic development
Achievements and Lessons Learnt From the Trainings
Indev has so fr from the beginning of training done fifty two training courses and been able to educate nine hundred professionals from the six hundred NGOs in India. Out of this six hundred only ninety three individuals have a website established and hosted by Indev. The number of hosted sites is one of the major indicators of success of the training, though they know that 100 more partners registered their own domain with a regular Internet service provider instead of Indev, mainly because these organizations would like to have their own domain name, but Indev only gives out sub-domains. All in all Indev counts success regardless of whether the NGOs have a domain with them or other ISPs.
One of the main reasons why a small number of the trained NGOs start their own websites is not because of lack of content, but because of the fact that all the contents have to be generated from top level that usually do not know the importance of uploading the content (Bijker & Law 1992: 32). According to Indev general manager John Borgoyary, “The challenge for the Indev team is not to train the NGOs how to build a website, but more how to convince the management of those organizations of the importance of putting development information online.”
John Borgoyary continues to say that, the only thing Indev can do to try to convince them is show success stories of NGOs that do have a website, like one of the NGOs from Kerala that wrote to Indev saying (we managed to host our site on your server few funding agencies from Europe and America showed interest and decided to support some of our projects) others get lot of requests for volunteers from Australia, Europe, America and so on.
Indev recognizes several advantages of the use of ICT for its training activities. Some of the advantages include; online courses have the advantage that they can be followed independent of place and time, online forums and discussion groups for the follow-up of the training courses, exchange with students from other countries, the availability of a wealth of resource material accessible for their students, free and downloadable software that comes with a manual and the added value which is brought about through use of ItrainOnline website has brought together all relevant material (Heap et al 1995: 192).
There are also some disadvantages which faces the problems. Some of the disadvantages includes; use of the internet and CD's for training is more easily done in the urban areas than in the rural areas where most of the NGOs and Indev mainly works, people seem to like reading texts from print outs rather that from the screens, distance learning or online learning courses are not yet easy to start, because face to face training seems to have much advantage and lastly the expensive nature of online courses makes many individuals not to apply for the course (Davidson, Harris, Quresh, Vogel and Vreede, 2005: 56).
Although there is some evidence to suggest that the globalisation of ICTs has given employment and other opportunities to women especially the educated and skilled, the general impact of ICTs on gender has been negative; it has reinforced gender inequalities and also created new ones (John and Lalita 1995: 1). There are three males and one female individual who work for Indev, but this gender insensitivity is not a true representative of the entire British Council which owns Indev where some departments consist entirely of only women. The participants of the web development courses that has been going on there is an estimated 30% female attendances (John and Lalita, 1995: 1). Although India seems to have more women working in the NGO sector than men, most of them are dominating the policy making departments (Anjali and Misra, 2004: 1). This is because women are simply not involved in building websites because of the low esteem among the women working for the NGOs (Berg 1999: 34). Fear for participation in innovation and creativity of technology among women has also played an important role in creating this inequality (Information Technologies and International Development, 2008: 1). So, because in general women are not the ones doing that work, Indev doesn't have a gender policy in its training (Berg 1999: 56).
Use of ICTs to improve the quality of the training
ICTs in the training facilitation is through the web resources, online training material, blogs or chatting, digital tools such as PowerPoint presentations and CD ROMs. For the web development courses Indev mainly uses print reference document and Mozilla manual that exists freely on the internet after installing Mozilla. The reference document usually gives an explanation of the background of the internet, the importance of using a website, how to conduct searches on the internet, what constitutes a good website and so on (Bijker & Law 1992: 62). This document is usually formulated by Indev trainers, for each course some prints are made available so that the document is up to date. Indev has also hired the servvices of an external consultant who is working on the real manuals that will be used to come up book that will be published and used by the trainees. During the course the students are shown how to search the internet for whatever subject they need information about. Indev will not inform there students a certain website rather they tell the students to feel free to find their way through various search engines themselves to get used to the whole concept (Bhatnagar and Odedra, 1992: 46). Although PowerPoint is not effective the participants are advice to use flipcharts (Tamjid, 2010: 1). Indev has plans of handing out the materials in a soft copy such as CDs instead of hard copies.
Indev conducts its training through a face to face approach and it has started plans to enable it to conduct distant learning or a combination of both the two. The only limiting factor of having an online course is because majority of their students are not yet advanced enough to be self-motivated (Tamjid, 2010: 1). Despite this fact other organizations have also found their way to online resources (Bhatnagar and Odedra, 1992: 88).
Utilization of the ItrainOnline Resources
Indev has mainly been using ItrainOnline as a reference site for the NGOs it has been training and they use its handouts. Indev estimates that about thirty percent of all their trainees have actually visited ItrainOnline after the course. Although not all sections of ItrainOnline are important for the NGOs, the chapter on design has been very important to the participants more than the other technical sections. A common problem that usually faces that user of ItrainOnline, are that, it is quit advanced for Indev's trainees because of the low computer knowledge of the participants.
On the other hand the training material on ItrainOnline is rather too simple for the Indev trainers. Instead the participants find the resources from ItrainOnline quit helpful and they always find it encouraging to have been educated on the creation of website using these materials. For the trainers ItrainOnline assists them to plan the training material and check whether everything is order. In the opinion of Indev trainer, “the perfect user for ItrainOnline would be an individual who does not have a computer background but is very keen to try with different kinds of computer programs, for instance an individual who wishes to know regarding various kinds of e-mailing programmes, different versions of browsing programmes or even a little bit about programming, then going through ItrainOnline materials can really help individuals to get to know the basics and hardcore of computer manuals" says Indev trainer.
Indev has been using ItrainOnline site because it is not a very heavy website, it is easily accessed and has a good design that makes the user to get glued to the site. Its accessing is also very good, it is not hard to do any form of search of what you are looking for; its language is quite simple and right for the trainers although for the trainees it seems to be somehow high for them (Anjali and Misra, 2004: 1). The resources which Itrainonline offers are very important and unique since none of the resources covers so many topics and is specially designed for use by the NGOs. It has saved so many NGOs and people from wasting a lot of time and struggle.
Experiences obtained from year of using ItrainOnline as expressed by the Indev trainers has revealed that ItrainOnline is really useful although there is still need for improvement. The Indev trainers indicate that the site should be updated more often so as to and it would be better if it did not just offer web resources but also give hard copies of the resources (Freeman 1987: 82). It is also indicated that ItrainOnline should also not just help individuals to use different types of software but also offer the same software online that can be downloaded.
After knowing the lack of enough information that existed in the development of India, Indev move in quickly and become the first ICT based training organization through the British Council to help solve the problem using the modern information technology techniques and training of people from various organizations such as NGOs so as to reduce the Information lack. After Indev’s move, there has been much to ensure the information presented through the Indev site. Indev’s use of Itrainonline was from its use in Britain after use of ICT in training had been seen as good and fruity and was therefore started in India and has made the same results like in Britain. The advantages of a developing country such as India using ICT transfer has been favored by factors such as increased flow of additional financial resources necessary for human capacity building, improved the physical technical resources, availability of industrial markets, transfer of environmentally sound technologies, political will from government and the availability of policies that reduce institutional constraints and market uncertainties threatening the transfer of ICTs.