Determining requirements within an indigenous knowledge system of African rural communities

Chivuno-Kuria, Shilumbe; Kapuire, Gereon Koch; Bidwell, Nicola J.; Winschiers-Theophilus, Heike
Department of Computer Science

Eliciting and analyzing requirements within knowledge systems, which fundamentally differ so far from technology supported systems represent particular challenges. African rural communities’ life is deeply rooted in an African Indigenous knowledge system manifested in their practices such as Traditional Medicine. We describe our endeavors to elicit requirements to design a system to support the accumulation and sharing of traditional local knowledge within two rural Herero communities in Namibia. We show how our method addressed various challenges in eliciting and depicting intangible principles arising because African communities do not dichotomize theoretical and practical know-how or privilege a science of abstraction and generalization. Ethnography provided insights into etiology, or causal interrelationships between social values, spiritual elements and everyday life. Participatory methods, involving youth and elders, revealed nuances in social relations and pedagogy pertinent to the transfer of knowledge from generation to generation. Researcher and participant-recorded audio-visual media revealed that interactions prioritize speech, gesture and bodily interaction, above visual context. Analysis of the performed and narrated structures reveal some of the ways that people tacitly transfer bodily and felt-experiences and temporal patterns in storytelling. Experiments using digital and paperbased media, in situ rurally showed the ways that people in rural settings encounter and learn within their everyday experiences of the land. These analyses also demonstrate that own ontological and representational biases can constrain eliciting local meanings and analyzing transformations in meaning as we introduce media. Reflections on our method are of value to others who need to elicit requirements in communities whose literacy, social and spiritual logic and values profoundly differ from those in the knowledge systems that typify ICT design.

Factors contributing to technology-enabled distractions in the classrom: A case study of students at the Namibia University of Science and Technology

Muyingi, Hippolyte N

Department of Computer Science

Classroom access to computers and the Internet may be indispensable for teaching and research both for the student and the teacher. Yet, these technologies can also be an impediment to learning as students may engage in actions unrelated to classwork such as texting, web browsing, e-mailing, online gaming, online shopping or a myriad of other activities. This paper examines the extent of this behavior by college students and the factors that may contribute to this behavior. The factors that were studied include the student's addiction to the Internet, learning style, classroom environment, and other individual student factors (gender, age, etc.). Data for this research were gathered using a questionnaire from 213 Namibia University of Science and Technology students. The results show that the level of Internet addiction, the degree of mismatch between learning and instructional styles, and some individual factors have significant impact on the degree to which students engage in distractive activities. The paper also discusses the pedagogical and classroom management implications both for educators and administrators.

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