Publication: ICTs and Informal Learning in Developing Countries

Foster, C.G., 2011. ICTs and Informal Learning in Developing Countries, Development Informatics Working Paper No. 46. University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.


This paper presents an approach to understanding information and communication technology-for-development (ICT4D) interventions based around informal learning, where the ongoing process of using ICTs – rather than informational products – is seen as the principal development driver.

A conceptual model of informal learning in ICT4D is constructed. This model moves beyond the treatment of informal learning as a single unproblematic concept, to illustrate that there is a landscape of contrasting modes of informal learning and subsequent development outcomes that can occur within the processes of ICT4D projects.

We use this model to provide guidelines that will help practitioners to understand ICT process within their projects and how they might ‘design’ projects around informal learning; through linking actions and ICT use to desired development outcomes.

This study is supported by a review of the literature; in particular using case studies from India and Brazil to illustrate how informal learning can become the principal focus of an intervention, and potentially provide more appropriate ways to understand empowerment, social change and participatory production within ICT4D.