Mignon Hardie – Fundza: Getting teens and young adults reading and writing on cellphones

This month Mignon Hardie from Fundza will be speaking to us at the ICT4D Digital Participation Lab monthly seminar.

Date & time: Friday, the 17th of April from 1pm (sessions usually go on until 3pm) at the TB Davie room in the Post Grad Centre on Upper Campus, University of Cape Town.

Earlier this year Alette Schoon and I attended  a networking meeting (the mLiteracy Network Meeting) for South African organisations working in the mobile literacies space. The meeting focused on mapping work in mobile literacies in South Africa and was hosted by the Goethe-Institut Johannesburg in January 2015. The starting point was the UNESCO study Reading in the Mobile Era which presented new quantitative data around the prevalance and implications of reading on mobile devices in developing countries. I enjoyed discussing the implications of our research findings with NGOs, publishers, mobile developers, librarians, and authors working to develop  and understand literacy in the mobile space.

Mignon Hardie

Mignon heads the FunDza Literacy Trust, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to growing a culture of reading and writing among South Africa’s youth. She has been involved in the organisation since inception and has been instrumental in ensuring FunDza’s growth and success in getting young people reading for pleasure. The organisation is hailed for its innovative use of mobile technology to disseminate locally- generated, exciting content and for developing a new generation of writers. The organisation has received various accolades for its work. In 2014 it was selected as a finalist for two international awards: The WISE Awards and The Tech Awards.

In addition to her work with FunDza, Mignon is a director of Cover2Cover Books, an innovative for-profit publishing house. Previously she has been involved in the start-up and management of a number of small and medium enterprises. Mignon has a BA (English and Economics) from UCT and an MBA (distinction) from Stellenbosch University.

Mignon will be presenting on “Getting teens and young adults reading and writing on cellphones

Please RSVP to anjaventer AT gmail dot com for catering purposes. We look forward to seeing you all there!

Centre for ICT for Development

As a field of research and practice, Information and Communications Technologies for Development (ICT4D) aims to harness information and communication technologies to achieve economic, social and political goals in low-resource or low-income regions. A crucial aspect of ICT4D research involves developing ideas that can broaden access to modern communications technologies.

Digital Participation Lab

People around the world are embracing computing and digital media, using an array of devices, operating systems, local media sharing and cloud-based services. Increasingly affordable consumer electronics have expanded the number of contexts in which media, games and other software can be accessed. This technology has also improved our ability to create, share and interact with and around various forms of media. Many new voices can make themselves heard particularly through social and mobile media as they converge with mass media. Nonetheless, key voices in society are still silenced or struggle to gain attention. Digital surveillance, monetisation and algorithmic controls also threaten freedom.

By taking user-centred, ethnographic and action-research approaches our Digital Participation group studies technologies in use in field contexts such as homes, libraries, clinics, classrooms, community broadcasters, after-school and holiday programmes, as well as in controlled settings at the university. Such fieldwork allows us to understand the economic, social and power dynamics that come into play as people access, use and create digital media, in addition to highlighting areas of need and allowing a close focus on the usability, communicative value and cultural significance of specific designs and communicative strategies. Through a variety of methods, technical and creative, we explore these relationships and tensions, with a focus on implications for practical designs. This research, at the intersection of creative arts, anthropology, linguistics, information technology, and media studies, is inspired by the need to understand agency and obstacles to digital participation.

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