What We Learned From Young Leaders In Rwanda

Last month my colleague, Amira Dhalla and I had the honor of joining over 150 young leaders from 10+ different countries for a three day Unconference about collaboration, digital literacy, localization, civic engagement and entrepreneurship. Participants led workshops, facilitated maker spaces, demonstrated new inventions, networked with each other, performed cultural dances and much more. It took place in the beautiful town of Nyamata, Rwanda. Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) did a stellar job organizing the event and successfully brought everyone together for a fun-filled and inspiring three days.

Unconference Participants in the form of the DOT logo. Photo by Digital Opportunity Trust.

We’ve had the pleasure of working with DOT since early 2017 to increase Web Literacy in several countries. Being in Rwanda and participating in the Unconference was an opportunity for us to learn more about the young leaders we are working with now and in the months to come. During our seven day visit we facilitated a workshop, promotional booth, several one-on-one discussions and a web literacy training where we introduced content and curriculum to young DOT leaders implementing an exciting new initiative. Below are details about what we did and what we learned during the visit.

What We Did

Elyse, Valery and Atieno co-facilitating the Mozilla Workshop at DOT Unconference 2017. CC-BY-SA by Mozilla

At the Unconference we facilitated a digital literacy workshop and ran a promotional booth where people could learn about free activities, tools, resources and opportunities related to web literacy, digital inclusion, localization and open leadership.

Key objectives for the digital literacy workshop and promotional booth were to:

Valery Ndayishimiye, Elyse Habumukiza and Joy Atieno at the Mozilla Workshop. CC-BY-SA by Mozilla.

Three young leaders from DOT Rwanda and DOT Kenya volunteered to help us plan and facilitate each. In the weeks leading up to the Unconference they joined me on several planning calls to design an agenda, assign roles and align on objectives. They shared helpful insight about how to localize activities and what topics would be the most relevant to the participants we would be engaging with. We decided to divide roles so that we could prepare in advance.

During the workshop I welcomed everyone with a quick intro to Mozilla. Valery facilitated a fun icebreaker where participants learned definitions of various web mechanics through a “speed dating” style activity. Elyse led a group discussion about the benefits of the open web for social innovators and what skills people need to be contributors of the web. Atieno guided everyone through an engaging activity that introduces basic HTML tags through simple dance moves. Amira shared information on Mozilla’s various leadership opportunities and how to apply them in local contexts.

Mozilla Promo Booth at DOT Unconference 2017. CC-BY-SA by Mozilla.

At the promotional booth we took turns demonstrating Mozilla tools and sharing information about local leadership initiatives. We invited people to add ideas to a collaborative wall mural that grew into an amazing collection of art and ideas. The topic of the mural was “What does the future of technology look like?” and the responses were a wonderful combination of text, collage, drawings and more.

A big thank you to Elyse, Valery and Atieno for their help and leadership in carrying everything out.

The Mozilla mural at DOT Unconference CC-BY-SA by Mozilla.

Following the Unconference, Amira and I headed to Kigali to lead a training for 30+ young leaders that were recently selected to be Digital Ambassadors affiliated with DOT Rwanda. This training was connected to a long term project we are helping DOT roll out that is specific to Rwanda. The agenda and objectives of the workshop evolved over a series of weeks and meetings between DOT and Mozilla staff.

In less than two days we trained them how to teach basic Web Literacy skills, how to apply our curriculum in low-resources areas and how to demonstrate ways the Internet relates to diverse communities. Details of the training are nicely outlined in this excellent recap by Amira.

Mozilla Web Literacy Training in Kigali, Rwanda. May, 2017. CC-BY-SA by Mozilla.

What We Learned

Outcomes from the training were collected through a culminating discussion and post-event survey that touched on feedback related to:

  • How comfortable participants were teaching web literacy before and after the training.
  • How they planned on localizing content from the training.
  • What we could improve for next time.
  • What web literacy issues are most appealing to them.
  • What they need to be successful.

We were happy to see a significant increase in people’s comfort level with teaching web literacy. They shared great ideas on how to localize content in their communities like using “role play games to teach people how the Internet works”, using “small stones to show HTML opening tags and closing tags” and explaining the “difference between web terminologies like Digital Literacy, Web Literacy, ICT, etc.”. Below is a summarized visual of everyone’s response.

All 18 people that filled out the survey left thoughtful and detailed written feedback. A general consensus was that the training needed to be longer. People asked for “more time for participants to play with coding” and “more time for discussions”. Additionally people made great suggestions on how to improve the training overall, like “helping every participant to be more participative” and adding some “individual exercises to prove that everyone gets the content”.

They liked “that the training was more practical than theory and it was engaging”, “how everyone had [the] right to share his/her views” and “the technical and open practice [we] were using during the training”. I am happy that the overall rating for the training was very good and am excited to implement the suggestions everyone made in our future trainings.

It was exciting to see that everyone found Mozilla’s internet health issues relevant to their work and is planning to incorporate almost all of them. To be successful in the implementation of this work they made several suggestions, including “learning from people who have been running the Mozilla Clubs”, a request for “a mobile app for digital champions”, more “printable content/guides” and “more trainings”. Below is a list of the internet health issues and which ones people selected.

This group of participants will be going on to do the same training for 25 of their peers. Replicating the training will give them a chance to dive into the material even more and tweak it to fit their needs and their communities needs. In the coming weeks we will be offering a virtual training introducing more content and support through Mozilla Clubs.

It is my hope that different versions of the activities and curriculum we did at the Unconference and Web Literacy training emerge in the months to come. I look forward to seeing how Valery, Elyse, Atieno, DOT Rwanda, the Digital Ambassadors and everyone else may localize our Web Literacy Map and invent new ways to teach it.