Digital Transformation Centers at the ITU: a kick-off meeting

I spent last week at the ITU in Geneva, Switzerland, from 11 to 13 February, 2020 I was on the kick-off meetings for the Digital Transformation Centers (DTC) project  for Phase 1. The primary function of DTCs are to deliver digital skills training to enhance digital literacy and foster uptake of digital tools among those at the bottom of the social pyramid and to improve livelihoods, and thus, bridge the third level of digital divide. Also, DTCs aim to improve the capacity of policymakers to design and implement digital skills programmes, and further conduct them to ensure scalability and self-sustainability in digital skills capacity development.

DTCs meeting group. Source: ITU photos

Within our small working group, included colleagues from HP and CISCO, I participated and proposed strategies to scale and reach underserved communities, in particular DTCs’ digital skills as the basis for sustainable development.

During this session, various strategies to scale has been discussed, taking into account the national demand for training (demand driven strategy), and the institutional capacity of the DTC to address the national demand (capacity- driven strategy).

The strategy discussions reviewed the approach towards target setting for the DTCs as well as establish the framework for setting KPIs. Finally, we covered the train-the-trainers programme, as a sustainable tool to reach the different communities.

One of the scalability solutions I offered was implementing free online services that require use of the skills we  seek here to impart, along with enough help and tutorials to allow users to self guide, and that would address the matter for over 80% of cases. For example, by installing NextCloud and LibreOffice online on a server in a protected environment, LibreOffice can enable interactive learning playground for digital skills programmes.

These solutions are open source software that can freely be used to create and deliver open learning resources, thus scaling digital skills programs. This is actually a great way for scalability of digital transformation centers and spread digital skills to wider audience including nonprofit organizations and governments of low income countries

Beside the technical aspect of digital skills scalability, I also addressed the human and social aspect of it which is my favourite. Digital transformation is equally technology and people, innovation and disruption. Beside Train-the-trainer digital literacy programs that DTCs already have planned, in international collaborative projects, we need to build Internal alliances and partnerships, local collaboration that promotes inclusiveness. Setting up a productive collaboration model between the organizations is not easy . It requires explicitly stated benefits, efforts / risks, KPIs, metrics which measure quality of collaboration and some project rules. Another approach is a networked practice through the connected learning approach, a recent example that in the United States, in New Mexico, there is this phenomenon in digital skills practice called, Teeniors: tech-savvy teens and young adults who help older adults learn technology through one-on-one, personal coaching. This is an excellent example and practice where networked engagement bridges generational gap.Of course there are other human approaches such as fostering the culture of collaboration,  participation and engagement in community planning efforts, and empowering sense of ownership in local communities.

Here you can take a look at my presentation:

This is just the beginning and let’s see how the phase 1 of DTCs will unfold.

 

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