We’re on a Mission to Make Rwanda Web Literate

Sometime in the last six months we joined forces with partners and the Government of Rwanda on a plan to make Rwanda web literate. The work is spearheaded by our friends at Digital Opportunity Trust who are on a mission to show how youth leaders can revolutionize an entire country and create lasting change that can bridge a countries digital divide. The program, called the Digital Ambassadors Program, requires us to train and equip thousands of youth leaders with the skills and knowledge to teach web literacy in low-resourced areas across the country. In the next 5 years, the ambassadors are expected to reach millions of individuals who are (or will be) coming online for the first time.

The plan is ambitious and it requires an entire country. But it’s the type of plan that gets you tingling in your toes with excitement.

I’m excited to be working on this project with a group at Mozilla. Together we’ve committed to,

  • Training Digital Ambassadors so they can execute the work on the ground
  • Creating and supporting curriculum that is to be used by ambassadors when teaching
  • Developing Mozilla Clubs in the areas where local individuals can continuously attend and learn

To succeed we need to ensure that:

  1. Ambassadors know how to teach basic web literacy. They are able to teach how to use the Internet, apps and resources to first time learners. To people who might not know what the web is or are scared to use it. As well as how to remain protected once they are online.
  2. Ambassadors are well equipped to facilitate this learning in low-resources areas. Most of the areas they will be working in have limited bandwidth, few resources and access will likely be only through mobile phones.
  3. Ambassadors are able to show individuals how the Internet is relevant to them and the opportunities it provides. This means making the Internet relevant to individuals and their everyday task — how can something like the Internet be used to make them better shopkeepers or access resource from the government.

In May, my colleague Julia Vallera and I traveled to Rwanda to attend Digital Opportunity Trust’s (DOT) Unconference. After which, we were to run a two-day training for 30+ ambassadors who were currently in DOT’s network. We went in with an agenda and what has become normal, we hacked and tweaked that agenda to meet the ambassador’s needs.

Here’s how we met our success metrics.

Ambassadors know how to teach basic web literacy.

We started basic, real basic. We went back to teach the basics of how the Internet works and revisited the terms/ideas that make the Internet what it is. We worked on understanding the definitions behind those terms and how to explain them to others. The curriculum and activities for the two days can be found here.

A visual demonstration of what the internet looks like

Ambassadors are well equipped to facilitate this learning in low-resources areas.

Over 70% of the curriculum taught was done entirely offline. This was important for us to model how to teach key digital principles in an offline setting. As we know resources are an issue we wanted to show you could have fun and learn the web without needing the web. We incorporated discussion, games and peer-supported learning that would engage people in different ways.

Using fun offline activities like the HTML puzzle cubes to teach coding principles

Ambassadors are able to show individuals how the Internet is relevant to them and the opportunities it provides.

We adapted our facilitation for this audience to allow for more time after activities and workshops that would focus on a reflection of the learning. Specifically, we would ask the ambassadors how they would adapt these activities for their future audience. Our future workshops with this group will focus on taking user profiles and assessing what/how to teach various target audiences.

Much facilitated conversation and reflections

A post-event survey indicates that,

  • Attendees found themselves far more equipped to teach Web Literacy. Before the event they were 61% prepared, versus 90% after the event.
  • Attendees felt very passionately about teaching new web users about how to understand the risks of the web including knowing what is fake vs. real.
  • 89% of attendees stated that they know more about web literacy issues facing their potential audience and can confidently teach them the skills they need to learn.
  • Attendees shared that they learned creative, fun and engaging methods to teach and will use them going forward.


Some favourite quotes:

“I liked how the work was done in teams, I liked the tactics that have been used to teach us the web literacy, like more practices than theories. I liked how facilitators collaborated between them, which made the course so interesting.”

“I really liked the mode of training, which engages everyone and considers how we shall use what we learned to facilitate people from our communities”

“I hope those examples will help me to become a good Digital Ambassador in my community so that web literacy will be an engine to development not only my community but development as whole country.”

We had fun! The Ambassadors and DOT Rwanda team had fun! We will continue learning, sharing and training the next round of Ambassadors.


We had fun! The Ambassadors and DOT Rwanda team had fun! We will continue learning, sharing and training the next round of Ambassadors.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s