It was a proud opportunity for Swift to participate during the TechCamp event held in Hyderabad from Nov 27 – 29, 2016 jointly held by U.S. State Department and COVA International.
TechCamp is a Public Diplomacy initiative, hosted in the bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) at the U.S. State Department. It is a diplomatic tool used by the U.S. State Department, to engage/empower specific groups like (civil society organizations, journalists, entrepreneurs and government representatives), by training them on the use of low-cost, easy-to-implement technological tools/concepts, making these groups more effective in the work they do.
The theme for this TechCamp was “Countering Extremism using Online Learning Tools and Techniques.”
The first question we need to ask is, Why Online Learning?
United Nations in its 2015 Action Plan emphasized on implementing online quality education in order to change the mindset of youngsters getting influenced by extremism and radicalization.
The initial session of the TechCamp was the best start one could have asked for, Speed Geeking, herein the Trainers were split into clusters, and partners spent around five minutes at each table. Every five minutes, they walked over to the next table getting a sense of various tools & techniques that could help them define their Challenge statement. Most of the users showed deep interest in knowing about learning platforms. There were thought leaders, religious leaders, NGOs and educators as participants. They were asked to frame a challenge statement on the problems they are facing at their workplace.
The following were the major problem statements identified during interactive sessions with partners.
1. How to build communities using eLearning tools for the purpose of de-radicalization.
2. How to develop a counter narrative against fanaticism through online and offline tools.
3. How to globally propagate all apps, tools and platforms to be developed by all partners of the COFI networks through all relevant tech innovations?
4. How can we create and sustain an online & offline network of school dropouts?
5. How can we raise awareness of the benefits of going online for traditional communities?
6. How can we develop alternative narratives responding to hate speech/hate content in news reporting/storytelling/social media?
7. How to introduce technology to uneducated communities.
The target audience consisted of Human Rights Activists from Maldives, Child and Women welfare NGO and other welfare voluntary organizations. Some of the challenges they expressed were that of technology. They were concerned about not able to leverage technology for their campaigns. Especially, when it came to creating awareness, they were struggling with online methods and tracking.
As a solution, we presented our LMS system as one of the solutions for learners to manage their courses and training. The features of LMS such as Ease of administration, tracking drill-down, analytical were quite handy for the learners during the training program. A mock-exercise was also done for the learners emphasizing the way they can upload eLearning courses and enroll them.
It was a learning experience for us being at TechCamp interacting with people from diverse fields. Especially, the interest shown by the partners towards Online Learning was overwhelming. Not just during the TechCamp, even after. Our partner friends from Bangladesh and Maldives visited our office and spent good time asking more about Online Learning Technologies. We look forward to continue this enthusiasm and be part of the follow-on activities. The overall objective is to design eLearning courses/training materials for all of the Challenge Statements identified during the TechCamp discussions.