Mozilla DOT Clubs kick off in East Africa
I just got back from an inspiring visit to East Africa where I joined several colleagues from Mozilla and Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) to work on a new project with people from Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Jordan and Canada. Most of the work we did was in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam with one short visit to Machakos. Below, I tried to capture some key experiences and learnings from the trip.
In Collaboration with Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) we are launching 30+ Mozilla Clubs in Jordan, Lebanon, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania over the next six months. Each country has leaders helping to organize and facilitate Clubs in their community. These leaders are experienced facilitators and mentors who were selected by DOT staff to launch the project in each location. For more information here is a description of the benefits of the Mozilla Clubs initiative and why Clubs are an integral component of the DOT Digital Champion program.
Why East Africa?
Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda are three of the five countries where this project is launching. DOT has dedicated staff and a strong community in each country who we are working closely with to develop the project. Mozilla has a growing community Kenya that is helping to inspire the work for this project. With limited time we were only able to visit Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, but were fortunate to have Individuals from Jordan and Rwanda join us in Nairobi.
Traveling to Tanzania and Kenya gave us the opportunity to:
- Introduce Open Leadership and Internet Health through an in-person training.
- Develop plans for Mozilla DOT Clubs with local DOT Staff and young leaders.
- Explore content and resources needed to teach web literacy in East Africa.
Our main focus for this trip was to lead three in-person, day long trainings to introduce Open Leadership practices and principles to DOT Club leaders. Training attendees included 10 DOT Staff and 25 youth leaders. Each training lasted 6–8 hours and covered topics like fostering safe spaces for learning, open source licensing, project based learning, tools for collaboration, digital inclusion, online privacy and much more. Throughout the day participants engaged with each other through deep discussion, group break-outs, physical activities and content creation.
- Training 1: Mozilla Club Leader Training in Dar Es Salaam. An in-person, full day training for individuals facilitating Mozilla DOT Clubs in Tanzania. Participants got an introduction to Mozilla, working open, web literacy, facilitation techniques, tools and resources.
- Training 2: Mozilla Club Leader Training in Nairobi. An in-person, one day training for individuals facilitating Mozilla DOT Clubs in Kenya and Rwanda. Participants got an introduction to Mozilla, working open, web literacy, facilitation techniques, tools and resources.
- Training 3: Mozilla Workshop for DOT Staff. An in-person workshop for DOT staff in Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Jordan and Canada. Participants got an introduction to Mozilla programs, resources and initiatives as they relate to the DOT Digital Champion program.
Through discussion and activities participants gained a better understanding of how to utilize everything Mozilla Clubs has to offer.
Developing The Training
Since December 2016 we’ve been mapping our work for this project. We set the groundwork for this training through several planning calls, a virtual orientation and lots of writing. Working with DOT was a unique opportunity for us to develop a new kind of training for a unique audience that have existing expertise in leadership, community development and education. To complement this expertise we based our training agenda on Open Leadership, Web Literacy and Mozilla Clubs. Here are a few very important goals we had in mind:
- Make it offline: We knew very early on that we wanted to create something that could be done entirely offline. Many of the training participants work in learning environments that have little or no access to internet and/or computers. So, we prepared printed materials and modeled something they could replicate in their local context.
- Incorporate many opportunities for collaboration: This was a unique chance to leverage the in-person quality of this training. We incorporated several group activities that gave attendees a chance to share ideas, experiences and expertise from multiple countries, cities and villages.
- Include several layers of hands-on learning: The content we shared throughout the training demonstrates hands-on learning, including physical games to learn HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) and have engaging discussions about technology.
- Implement an assessment plan: As a new project this was an opportunity to initiate an ongoing assessment plan starting with the training. We brought a team of assessment experts together from Mozilla and DOT to advise us on developing a registration and training survey. We used these to gather essential feedback before and after the training.
Running The Training
Attendees explored how to adapt the Mozilla Clubs model in a local framework that encourages safe and open learning spaces online and offline. We discussed complicated topics like teaching in lofi areas, working openly, empowering learners and creating optimal learning environments. Participants shared experiences, learned from each other and connected on many different levels.
We did our best to create a fun, friendly and comfortable environment for everyone. To keep engagement high we moved around a lot and rotated between group brainstorms, activities, team-work and break time. Sometimes the room was filled with laughter and movement. Other times the room was quiet and focused. In each case attendees brought their own personality and ideas to the agenda, which added a wonderful spontaneity to the training that we were pleasantly surprised with.
Additional Experiences & Learnings
While in Nairobi I had a couple more experiences worth noting here. These were not directly related to the trainings described above, but definitely helped to contextualize the learning that happened for me while I was there.
- Digital Skills Observatory (DSO) Convening and Workshop:
In advance of the training in Nairobi I joined 60 other people in a convening to workshop findings from the Digital Skills Observatory. This research project followed 200 first-time smartphone users throughout 2016, and studied the impact of digital skills training on their adoption and usage behaviours. During the convening we discussed findings from the project, and worked in small groups to build new ideas based on them. The workshop was a great introduction to several other organizations and people around the world who are involved in similar areas of technology and education.
2. Site Visit to Mozilla Club Machakos, Kenya:
I was honored to visit a Mozilla DOT Club in action. Mozilla Club Machakos meets every week in a Red Cross facility in the town of Machakos, which is about an hour outside of Nairobi. The Club has 13 Club participants, all of which are recent high school graduates. During my visit, I learned about their hobbies, interests and curiosities. We talked about what they were learning in the Club and how it overlaps with their interests. Some of them were planning to attend university, others were not. In all cases they chose to attend the Club and learn new skills that could help them progress in their personal and professional lives. They share computers during their Club meetings and take turns trying different tools and activities online. While I was there they were learning basic HTML using X-Ray Goggles.
3. Dinner with Digital Inclusion leaders from Kenya:
I had the pleasure of joining seven women for dinner to discuss and learn about the work they are doing related to digital inclusion and gender equality. They are currently working with Mozilla, United Nations and other organizations to increase opportunities for women and girls in technology. A lot of this work is based in Kenya, but extends and inspires multiple other communities around the globe. Amira Dhalla (Lead for Women and Web Literacy at Mozilla) brought us together in a wonderful and friendly exchange filled with inspiration and delicious local food.
Training participants will now launch Clubs in their home countries. As they recruit Club learners and host Club events they will share their experiences on our community channels. These updates are viewable on the Mozilla Clubs Event Reporter, Mozilla Learning Forum and Clubs Facebook Group.
My learnings from this trip will continue to impact my work for months and years to come. I am inspired by the spirit and culture of the individuals I got to know during my visit. I look forward to working alongside DOT leaders as they grow web literacy and open leadership in their regions.
Special thanks to my co-facilitator Amira Dhalla and DOT Staff Roy Lamond, Christine Kelly, Dome Dennis, Judy Muriuki and Frederick Sigalla for their assistance with organizing the events. For more about this work check out Amira Dhalla’s Training Digital Leaders blogpost and photographs.