Promoting self sustainable academies that teach basic computer skills through video tutorials especially designed for the needs of people residing in disadvantaged communities in developing countries
Project associated to TEDECO (Technology for Cooperation and Development),
 Faculty of Computer Sciences,
Madrid Polytechnic University
We work to develop and provide instructional content to allow people with limited computer skills to gain confidence in the use of computers and understand how computers can help them and how they can apply their computer skills to the improvement of their daily lives. This content is specially produced to address the specific needs and characteristics of people residing in disadvantaged communities.
 
 
We have developed a full set of videos that start by introducing very basic skills (use of mouse, drag and drop...), progress through the skills needed for producing intermediate level word processing documents and end up with a very deep understanding of how to use the Web to get information that can be directly applied to address the day-to-day problems.  

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From our experience, we strongly believe that learning with just video tutorials needs a lot of self-discipline and a systematic approach that our target students do not usually have, since these skills are most commonly acquired through undergraduate studies at the university. Learning is dramatically improved when videos are combined with assignments and supervision. This ensures that students actually learn while they feel more comfortable and motivated about their progress. Also, there are some specific features in the implementation of the whole setup which we consider extremely important for the success of the system.
THE TRAINING SYSTEM

Training is provided through video tutorials internally developed by Digital Opportunities. The students work on computers with dual screens (one for the video, one for performing the tasks presented in the video and the assignments). If there is no possibility of dual screen, a 7 inches tablet is used as the video player.

 

The use of computers is done on an individual basis, which contrasts sharply with the ordinary training methods to which students are used.

 

The training system requires the presence of a coordinator to resolve technical issues and oversee and approve the assignments that are proposed at the end of the different lessons.

 

One and a half hour shifts have been established for each computer, so that one computer can serve eight or nine students throughout the day providing a non-stop high quality training.

 

ADVANTAGES OF THE SYSTEM

Advantages of individualized training

Advantages of individualized training

Advantages of coordinators

instead of teachers

  • Each student has complete access to a computer, no sharing with anybody.
  • Students go at their own pace, there is no time pressure or deadline for the completion of the course.

  • Students have no problems for not understanding something or being wrong, the system promotes the process of trial and error.

  • The system ensures that students do not lose any essential concept. Each lesson has tasks that must be supervised and approved by the coordinators in order to move to the next lesson.

  • If the student cannot attend for some reason, he/she does not miss the course, simply resumes his training when possible.

  • It ensures that the quality of the teaching is uniform and does not depend on the quality of different teachers or volunteers.

 

  • Coordinators require a very basic training to perform their role.

Advantages in terms of resources and efficiency

  • One and a half hour shifts have been established for each computer, so that one computer can serve eight or nine students throughout the day with a high quality training.

 

  • There is no need for a computer room full of computers waiting for the availability of a teacher.

 

  • No limited by the time constraints or frustration issues faced by teachers.

Main features of the video tutorials:
 
  • Accessible to any academic level.
 
  • Explanations of the videos are written and spoken. Videos were initially prepared in English and were then translated into Swahili. Thus, even a person who does not know English and is not fluent in reading Swahili can progress throughout the course.
 
  • Videos can be easily translated into any language.
 
  • The videos feature a special music background that facilitates concentration and produces a stimulating effect on students.
 
  • The video action is stopped during the comments, and it continues after the explanation of what will go next is finished.
 
  • The basic philosophy of the videos is not to follow a program covering a predefined content, but to perform specific tasks (from simplest to most complex) and present the concepts as the tasks are being performed.
 
  • The videos are accompanied by the necessary files in order for the students to follow the progress of the tasks.
 
  • The coordinators oversee and approve all documents the students produce during the study of the videos. After each video, there are a series of tasks that students must perform and seek approval from the coordinators.
THE VIDEO TUTORIALS
SUPPORT MATERIALS
Assignment sheet
Protocol for new students
Although we are a non-for-profit organization, we strongly believe in concepts like social enterprises, CBOs, self sustainability and self management. These concepts make things happen, because they attract the best people and they keep them motivated, making sure that everything is aligned with what people need (and therefore pay, and -most important- give value). That is what brings sustainability in the long term and adaptation to the dynamics of the communities in which the projects are based.
 
We want to provide selected local entrepreneurs interested in computer education with a set of tools which are enough to start a DigOpps business based on a proved concept that really works. The more revenues and profits they make, the most the education system will be spread, accomplishing our basic mission.
 
Our proposed model is at two levels: national and local.

 

 

 

AT A NATIONAL LEVEL   
 
 
We base our expansion in each country through a strong leader willing to start a business in computer education at a national level which would not only operate an academy but also would act as a franchisor to expand the number of academies offering the education system. We will provide him/her with:

 

  • All the materials for the courses (videos and support materials), and any extensions or updates
  • Comprehensive training on the education system and how to supervise the work of students
  • Comprehensive training on the management systems: (i) monitoring of students' progress and (ii) control of the business
  • Advice on how to start the first academy, which should also be designed with the purpose of serving as a showroom for demonstrating the concept to prospective licensees
  • Advice on how to implement a marketing strategy (pricing, discounts, advertising...)
  • Advice on how to search for licensees and how to establish legal and business relationships with them
  • Constant follow-up and advice on the progress of the academy and the business
 

 

 

AT A COMMUNITY LEVEL     

 

 

We base our local expansion through licensees which act as DigOpps representatives in their local communities. The national franchisor will closely monitor the supervision made by the licensees of the assignments delivered by students, in order to ensure the quality of the training. The national franchisor will also be responsible for issuing the certificates for completion of the courses. The licensees will be provided with:

 

  • All the materials for the courses (videos and support materials), and any extensions or updates
  • Comprehensive training on the education system and how to supervise the work of students
  • Comprehensive training on the management systems: (i) monitoring of students' progress and (ii) control of the business
  • Advice on how to start the academy
  • Advice on how to implement a marketing strategy (pricing, discounts, advertising...)
  • Constant follow-up and advice on the progress of the academy and the business
 
The franchisor will charge a franchise fee to the licensee which is proportional to the income generated. The purpose of this fee is to (i) cover the costs of the central supervision team and the issuing of certificates, and (ii) generate and increase a fund to help new potential licensees start operations through loans that would be repaid as the activity generates enough income.
OUR MODEL FOR GROWING
THE CONCEPT
CONTACT US

Spain

Manuel Silvestre

Founder and President, Asociación Digital Opportunities

manuel@digitalopportunities.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenya

Wyckliffe Okuku

Country Director

wyckliffe@digitalopportunities.org