Chakuri-Bazaar: A Mobile Application for Illiterate and Semi-Literate People for Searching Employment

Chakuri-Bazaar: A Mobile Application for Illiterate and Semi-Literate People for Searching Employment

Muhammad Nazrul Islam, Md. Arman Ahmed, A.K.M. Najmul Islam
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/IJMHCI.2020040102
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The purpose of this paper is to explore the design principles to develop mobile applications for illiterate and semi-literate people and to design, develop, and evaluate a mobile application for illiterate and semi-literate people in Bangladesh using the revealed design principles and following a design science research approach. The authors first conducted a requirement elicitation study to reveal a set of design principals to make the user interface (UI) intuitive for illiterate and semi-literate people. Then, a mobile application (Chakuri-Bazaar) was developed following these design principals. Finally, the application was evaluated with 40 illiterate and semi-literate people through a field study. As outcome, a set of design principles was revealed for designing usable mobile application for illiterate and semi-literate people. The findings of the evaluation study suggest that the application was effective, efficient, and the users were satisfied in terms of its ease of use, ease of learning, willingness to use it in future, and willingness to recommend it to others.
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The adoption and use of smart phones and Internet services have brought a revolutionary change in communication. According to a Statista report, 2.53 billion people in the world have been using smart phones in 2018 (Statista, 2019). Due to the affordable prices, the penetration of smart phones in the developing nations has also been rising rapidly (GSMA,2017). In Bangladesh, the usage of mobile phones and Internet services is also remarkable. According to a recent report by Bangladesh Telecommunication Regularity Commission (BTRC), around 160 million people are subscribed to different mobile operators in Bangladesh (BTRC, 2019a). Among these, around 93 million subscribers have been using the Internet services (BTRC, 2019b).

The adult literacy rate in Bangladesh is about 72.76% (Countryeconomy, 2019), however, a major percent of this population can be classified as semi-literate, who is unable to read or write with ease or fluency. Taken together, a large portion of mobile phones and Internet service users in Bangladesh is either illiterate or semi-literate. In this paper, the illiterate users refer to the individuals who cannot read or write in their mother (Bengali) language (Medhi et al., 2006). In contrast, those who attended schooling up to fifth grade and could read and write Bengali language are considered as semi-literate users. Despite this fact that a large portion of Bangladeshi mobile phone users are either illiterate or semi-literate, most of the current applications and their interfaces are targeted towards educated people. The interfaces generally contain a lot of texts (often in English) that illiterate and semi-literate people are unable to read. If this large group of population is unable to use the ICT services, they will miss the benefits of these services and that will eventually lead to digital divide, which refers to the gap between people who have access to modern information and communications technology, and those who do not or have restricted access (Klecun, 2008). Moreover, recent studies have shown that citizens in Bangladesh are not equally receiving electronic services, able to access online information, participating in mass communication, conducting business online, getting electronic health services, and the likes, which in turn creates the digital divide not only between urban and rural areas but also between literate and illiterate people of Bangladesh (Hsieh & Rai, 2008) (Rahman & Bhuiyan, 2016) (Babar, 2017) (Karim et al., 2016) (Debnath et al., 2018). Therefore, ensuring ICT services to this large number of marginalized (illiterate and semi-literate) group of people is very critical to reduce digital divide.

The objectives of this paper are to explore the possible design considerations to develop mobile applications for illiterate and semiliterate people, and to design and develop a usable mobile application for illiterate and semiliterate people for searching jobs in Bangladesh. We are particularly interested in building a job search application because of two reasons. First, there has not been any research or development effort to design and build an ICT service in Bangladesh for illiterate and semi-literate people that would help them to search employment. Indeed, a few studies were conducted in other developing countries on web-based job search portal (Khan et al., 2017; Medhi et al. 2006; 2007). However, it is difficult to say to what extent the findings from these studies are valid in the context of mobile applications as well as in Bangladesh. Second, we believe a job search application would help them get access to the job market with ease, which would in turn contribute to their economic situation.

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