Sunday, December 18, 2011

Volunteer work from home

A while back when I was cutting my teeth in the ICT4D world, I attended a symposium that was one of the more significant and person forming events of my adult professional life. Yes big words, but I reflect upon the days I spent at Royal Holloway with fondness knowing it influenced the direction of my life. Many thanks to the ICT4D people who put so much energy into creating the event! Tim Unwin is an exceptional person and academic who would still be my preferred mentor if I ever undertake a PhD.

During this time I read a "paper" written by Tim Unwin in July 2004 titled "Doing development research 'at home'". For me, the point of his paper is there is an amazing amount of volunteer and development work you can do from home. I also find that since this paper was written in 2004 a lot more tools have become available on the Internet to assist in doing volunteer work. From a philosophical perspective I also deeply agree with doing volunteer work from home;
  1. It's reduces travel and is therefore good for the environment.
  2. Staying close to home also focus your work on your local communities needs.
  3. It is more based on attraction rather than promotion in that the people who want your assistance will 'virtually' come to you.
This is what I see important to my practice of doing international work from home;
  • Working on things I am really passionate about
  • Publish all my work and materials for free using the appropriate licensing scheme. With faith that someone somewhere will find the work useful.
  • Offer my expertise in Communities of Practice and if people make comment or want further information about my works, engage and share expertise.
  • Engage, engage, engage... it is an amazing and growing community of learners online. All learners, regardless of stage of learning, require assistance. Its iterative and amazing what you will learn from others, even in topics you believe yourself an expert.