By Digital Empowerment Foundation
Published on: Oct 10, 2022
With a 10,000 strong cadre of digital foot soldiers across India, DEF has interventions in 2,000 locations in 135 districts across 24 states in India.
The Digital Empowerment Foundation presented its work at the Tenth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning hosted by Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and Athabasca University (AU) from 14 to 16 September 2022. The Forum takes place every three years and is considered one of the world’s leading international conferences on open, distance and technology-enabled learning.
DEF presented its following initiatives:
START is a digital learning and MIL toolkit, which has been developed after years of experience in imparting functional digital literacy through hands-on training and workshops in rural and tribal communities. It has been designed exclusively for first-generation technology users to promote digital inclusion and fight information poverty.
It is a 45-hour digital learning curriculum that covers 30 topics ranging from basics of computers, use of applications, media & information literacy and online security and safety, among others. The pedagogy for START focuses on hands-on training and workshops in rural and tribal communities through activities and gamification of topics.
Efforts are now underway to include a Media & Information Literacy (MIL) module into the START curriculum so that the first-generation users are also able to access, analyse and understand information to become conscious consumers and producers of online content.
Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) initiated the program Going Online as Leaders (GOAL) —to connect urban women who are leaders in their fields with rural women online to provide them guidance and support in digital skills to bridge the information gap. The program helps enable these girls to gain exposure and access to digital tools and learn about its uses and the latest technology innovations that are happening around the world.
The mentorship and digital training is supported by DEF’s pre-established Community Information Resource Centres (CIRCs) located around these areas. Trainers from these CIRCs provide a conducive physical environment for learning and facilitate the digital literacy of the girls through a dedicated digital literacy curriculum. The urban women leaders mentor the girls remotely through fortnightly audio or video calls, WhatsApp messages and Facebook or Instagram updates.
Makerspace is an initiative where physical centers equipped with STEM learning and digital skilling tools are created in DEF’s community information centers at the remotest locations. Maker’s Space facilitates an unstructured learning space supported by digital/STEM tools that allow children and youth, especially persons with disabilities, to take ownership of their learning and create innovative solutions for their communities.
Digital Sarthak is a national digital entrepreneurship and empowerment programme.
The main objective of the project is to increase the digital capacity of the Women entrepreneurs and community development organizations in marginalized and underserved regions in India by providing them with digital up-skilling support and strengthening their ability to engage on digital and ICT policy issues.
The project will strengthen and build their organization and management capacities in social and economic activities, services, transactions, trade and commerce with basic and value-added digital skills and training towards better access, use and benefit from digital resources and opportunities.
SkillBot is a one of a kind telegram based chatbot designed for building digital capacities for people in rural areas of India to enhance their livelihood. An interactive chatbot has been customised for this purpose to engage people. It is a self learning based learning management system customised for this purpose to engage people with multiple mediums of learning experience.