IGF 2018 WS #17 Operationalizing Digital Skills Training for the Underserved

Organizer 1: Christopher Yoo, University of Pennsylvania
Organizer 2: Sharada Srinivasan, University of Pennsylvania
Organizer 3: Muge Haseki, University of Pennsylvania
Organizer 4: Melissa Sassi, Microsoft

Speaker 1: Melissa Sassi, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Isura Silva, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Yuhyun Park, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Judith Peterka, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

In underserved communities, digital technologies can help in providing access to education and enhancing basic literacy skills, enable health and financial inclusion. The World Bank’s 2016 report, Digital Dividends, suggests that in order to reap digital dividends, analog complements are essential - digital skills training is one such key analog component.

Despite the importance of “digital skills”, we do not know what imparting them looks like in the real world. For instance, digital ambassadors program in Rwanda imparts training through a train-the-trainers process alongside livelihood training for end users. American Tower’s digital village squares impart month-long training in collaboration with the NIIT University, on the basis of curriculum required by the National Digital Literacy Mission in India. Fusion program in Sri Lanka imparts training at telecenters, Intel She Will Connect uses mobile apps.

The conceptualization of digital skills and how to implement such programs is important for three main reasons. First, it is important to retain user interest. Second, it’s important to enable users to use digital skills in the way they want. Third, it’s important to better measure its impact on the target communities. Therefore, several important questions need to be addressed:

- Who is the target community?
- How would target community benefit from digital literacy training programs?
- How long does the training have to be?
- What should the content look like?
- How should it be delivered?
- What works better, when do we use one means of imparting digital skills over another?

The purpose of this workshop is to bring together implementation lessons from actual digital skills training programs to key decision makers. This session seeks to contribute to developing a common language around digital skills training, and enhance the understanding of the issues that must be addressed by policy and financiers alike. The workshop relates directly to the Digital Inclusion theme as it will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss how proactive efforts and initiatives around the world are driving education and help engage underrepresented communities in an increasingly digital world. This workshop seeks to understand, enhance, and proliferate digital skills training initiatives around the world, and feed lessons into policymaking.

Format: 

Round Table - 60 Min

Interventions: 

1. Isura Silva, Fusion, Sarvodaya, Sri Lanka (Civil Society, Asia-Pacific): Mr. Silva will introduce participants to the Fusion programme by Sarvodaya, which focuses on training people in digital skills through a large network of telecenters. The programme subsidises costs for participation by women, enabling greater access to women in marginalised, rural areas. They will contribute to Part 3 of the session, focused on experiences.

2. Melissa Sassi, Microsoft Airband Initiative, US (Business, WEOG): Melissa Sassi is the lead for the Digital Skills Working Group for the IEEE Internet Inclusion Initiative. She has led the charge on coming up with common definitions of digital skills, as one of the working group's leads. She will present some of her findings on defining and operationalising digital skills in this session. She will contribute to Part 1 of the session, on definitions.

3. Yuhyun Park, DQ Institute, Singapore (Civil Society, Asia-Pacific): Dr. Park heads the DQ Institute, an international think tank committed to improving digital education, culture, and innovation through cross-sector collaborations, global dialogue and big data research. She will contribute to Parts 1 and 3 of the session, focused both on definitions of digital skills, as well as their experiences in collaborating with different stakeholders to impart digital skills.

4. Violette Uwamutara, Digital Opportunity Trust, Rwanda (Civil Society, Africa) will share her experience from the Digital Ambassadors Program that she leads in Rwanda. She will contribute to Parts 3 and 4 focused on experiences and policy recommendations.

5. Judith Peterka, UK Government, UK (Government, WEOG) will contribute a government stakeholder perspective, providing insights on how the UK government has led research efforts on Digital Skills, and the key gaps they perceive.

Diversity: 

IGF has been dominated by policy voices that have often repeated over the years. As in our prior workshops, we have made a concerted effort to introduce new voices to this discussion, and promoted speakers who are doing valuable work in the field. This workshop aims to gather a variety of perspectives to address the central policy question: How do we help underserved communities be equipped with critical digital skills?
We have sought to ensure stakeholder group, gender and geographical diversity, as can be observed from the list of confirmed speakers.

We have also reached out to first-time speakers but from organizations that have long worked in this space, such as Ms. Park from DQ Institute and Mr. Silva from Fusion. Judith Peterka leads research efforts for the UK Government on Digital Skills training, and is also a first-time speaker at the IGF.

Gender balance has been encouraged through speaker choices and each speaker will bring unique expertise and experience to the topics discussed. Organizers will encourage remote participation on social media.

Outline of the session:

I- Conceptualization of Digital Skills
The initial part of the session would focus on the conceptualization of the term and what we mean by that. Participants from business, civil society, technical community, government and youth groups will discuss the following:
- What do we mean by “digital skills”?
- What are the existing definitions and how are they compatible and contradictory to each other?

II-Implementation of Digital Skills Training Programs
Following the discussion on the definition of digital skills, participants will discuss how to implement digital literacy training programs by addressing the following questions:
How can we equip underserved communities with digital skills?
Should digital skills training vary by age, demographic, literacy level and other factors?
How can digital skills training be integrated into other kinds of adult literacy training programs for communities with low traditional literacy?
How can digital skills feed into employment training for 21st century jobs?

III-Examples from the Field
Next, the focus will be on distilling lessons from grassroots implementations.
DQ Institute based in Singapore will share their program and lessons learnt.
Sarvodaya based in Sri Lanka will talk about their Fusion program and lessons learnt.

IV-Policy Implications
Finally, the policy experts would discuss how all these feed into policy making and the extent to which existing policies are appropriate and sufficient.

Format:
The workshop will be organized as a highly interactive roundtable to facilitate dialogue between subject experts from various countries and stakeholder groups, with an eye to assimilate the knowledge in the room to feed into decisionmakers’ discussions.

The moderator will make introductory remarks and introduce the speakers in the first five minutes - this part of the workshop seeks to perform a level-setting function, bringing together the knowledge from existent research.

Workshop participants shall hear the speakers for 7 minutes each, with each speaker introducing their perspectives on the central issue and sharing their experience. Participants will hear insights from a diverse range of experts from governments, businesses and civil society organizations on their experience implementing or engaging with initiatives that promote digital literacy or use of ICTs in educational contexts.

The third part of the workshop with be a highly interactive Q&A session, with 20 minutes assigned to responding to key issues that emerge for policymakers while defining digital skills training. Online participation will be facilitated through an engaged remote moderator during this time.

Following the Q&A, the moderator will summarize the key takeaways from the discussion and the workshop will conclude with interaction between all participants to supplement the learnings.

Onsite Moderator: 

Christopher Yoo

Online Moderator: 

Sharada Srinivasan

Rapporteur: 

Muge Haseki

Discussion Facilitation: 

The list below provides examples of the ways discussion will be facilitated amongst speakers, audience members, and online participants and ensure the session format is used to its optimum:

Seating: Participants will sit around a large (circular) table (seating style permitting). Several roaming microphones will be used to facilitate discussion during the Q&A session (microphone availability permitting). This will facilitate discussion by creating an enabling and comfortable atmosphere where all speakers and participants are given an equal footing in the discussion. The moderator may walk around the room to engage participants as well.
Media: We may consider use of images and Powerpoint presentations to aid those whose native language may not be English. Video material may also be considered to help engage remote participants.

Preparation: Two preparatory calls and a preparatory meeting onsite will be organised for all speakers, moderators and co-organisers in advance of the workshop so that everyone has a chance to meet, share views and prepare for the session.

Given the varied background of discussants and audience members, organisers will explore introducing some questions online in order to kickstart some discussion on social media in the run up to the workshop. This will introduce the subject, encourage conversation and create links to other dialogues on digital skills taking place in other forums. The remote moderator will play an important role in sharing the ideas of remote speakers/participants and will encourage interventions through video.

During the open discussion sections, open questions will encourage responses from participants and everyone will be given equal weight and equal opportunity to intervene. Walk-in participants will be encouraged to participate in the discussion by the moderator who will seek contributions from participants in person and remotely.

Reporting: During the session summary, in order to encourage diverse contributions, the moderator will summarize discussion between experts and participants to help conclude and generate suggestions for possible next steps.

Online Participation: 

The remote moderator will be involved throughout workshop planning to advise on where remote participation will need to be facilitated. The moderator will frequently communicate with the remote moderator throughout the session to ensure remote participants’ views/questions are reflected. As the remote moderator is one of the organizers and has extensive experience in online moderation at the IGF in the past, she will communicate with the onsite moderator and make necessary interventions during the workshop. The online moderator will also participate in training sessions for remote participation at IGF to ensure they have all the necessary information.

As noted above, during the Q&A session, the remote moderator will engage the remote participation group. This will ensure remote participants are given the opportunity to interact with multiple experts remotely.

Co-organizers will ensure that the workshop is promoted in advance to the wider community to give remote participants the opportunity to prepare questions and interventions in advance and to generate interest in the workshop. This would involve engagement through social media and our website. Organizers will also explore organizing a remote intervention from youth participants through remote hubs.