Social Impact Comprising Digital Technology
“If we can extend (the internet) to more people, we increase voice… we increase economic opportunity… and we increase equality”- Sheryl Sandberg
Above lines by CEO, Facebook USA is an influential and powerful message that suggests the overwhelming impacts of technology on people. Today, digital inclusion is a necessity and can be used as a tool to generate unprecedented results. Social Impact can be referred to an action that brings significant change to people, groups, association or community. The social and physical conditions are taken in to consideration. It arises due to effectiveness of the source of impact, propinquity of the event and the number of sources exercising the impact.
Understanding the scope of digital training
It is an irrefutable fact that digital tools and its supply can leverage the learning, and educating process. Famous and dedicated philanthropists, Business or NGO’s understand the importance of digital inclusion in creating social impacts. It has been observed that effective use of technology can bridge the gap in attaining the subject and the way they are put in to practice. Digital Technology can be used in the field of education, to channelize employment opportunities, inspiring parental enthusiasm, to broadcast information or to run a health campaign, options can be unlimited. Using Information and communication Technologies (ICTs) can prove to be an advantage for any Social Impact Organization as it can provide various routes to convey the message or to achieve an objective which could be otherwise difficult to obtain. We ca see some organization like Movement 2016 perfectly using digital techniques to reach more people in US
Realistic Accounts of using ICT for Social Impact
The inclusion of digital technology can successfully enhance the purpose of a particular campaign by NGO’s and there are many credible accounts to support this argument. According to a report developed by ICF Consulting Services for Scandinavian countries, the impact of using digital tools for teaching can produce substantial results. The outcome or the soft impact includes increased confidence and identifiable advancements. For example, Emily, 18, could not go to school due to her introvert personality. An online learning center developed by the government proved to be favorable for her. With her increased self-belief and conviction, she has a complete personality transformation. It’s not difficult to enumerate the increased confidence, social contribution and improved lifestyle.
It would also be important to mention a successful educational program by UK government to include ICT on large scale to reach socially disadvantaged groups, people or community. The project ran for fifteen months during 2007-2008 and it garnered fruitful results, the highlights included the increased usage of online public services and internet that made difference to their life and almost 87% of participants progressed under additional training and employment.
Digital Storytelling or showing documentaries for social impact is also another successful version of ICT inclusion. A research article published by Stanford Social Innovation Review USA, provides an insight of the powerful impact of digital storytelling on poor and vulnerable people across the world. Today, sharing stories or projecting an idea through various technological tools can be used to educate and inspire people, and help them to improve their quality of life.
A report by School of Communication, American University Washington DC, clearly indicates the impacts of issue-focused documentaries on public. The report mentions the emotional connect of the audience through documentaries that are meant to create awareness and infuse the right amount of curiosity for a particular social cause. For example, projecting a documentary about ‘AIDS Awareness’ to a group or people who are not educated enough to read or understand the effects of this disease or how to prevent it. A film would successfully educate them as well as sensitive them towards a healthier tomorrow.
Limitations and Drawbacks
Although, inclusion of ICT is a boon for any Social Impact Organization, it also has a drawback that cannot be ignored. The implementation of new technological tools can incur large upfront cost. Since by definition NGO’s are non profits; it becomes difficult to keep up with the wages of the technicians or professionals who are responsible to use these equipment. Such barriers cannot be ignored; however there are cheaper means too. Social Networking has come out to be the most responsive means in terms of generating the right kind of awareness. However, one cannot avoid the fact that there still are communities in the world who are battling for the basic amenities and internet is still a luxury for them that they cease to afford.
To conclude, digital training is extremely important for Social Impact Organization, yet it is not the only tool that can be used to execute their key objectives.
Technology can be called a useful and strong servant but a dangerous master, and it should be used for the right intention, perfect planning and execution, as with power comes great responsibilities.