One of the biggest challenges for earth defender communities seeking to use digital tools is the high learning curve that comes with understanding information technology. There are numerous basic skills and nuances involved in working with information technology or computers, which Western-educated folks take for granted but are quite complex and even overwhelming for somebody who is just starting to work with digital tools. We will write more about this subject of tech literacy in a later #EarthDefendersToolkit seed bank post.
In our research and years of accompanying partner communities in using digital technologies, we have found that mapping can be one of the most effective ways of building skills in using technology, because mapping already involves something that community members already have quite a lot of knowledge about: the territory, lands, and waters. When a mapping tool is set up to have a simple interface — featuring a visual map (or satellite imagery) with easily identifiable places and reference points, and an easy-to-use interface for zooming, panning and moving around on the map, and adding data — even people who have never used a mouse or computer before can easily start mapping their knowledge. In doing so, people can learn basic computer skills such as operating a mouse, working with a modern application user interface, and reading and entering data fields in an easy and interactive way; and the ability to work directly with extensive knowledge of the land keeps the exercise grounded in the concrete realities of the community.
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