Towards a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for and by youth in slums
Photo credit: Nigeria Media Team
With in person learning exchanges put on hold due to Covid-19 lockdowns, and in response to a demand from participants for training on social impact media, filmmaking and storytelling for change, KYC.TV hosted a number of well attended online learning exchanges between March and September 2020. Each training was hosted on Zoom and simultaneously livestreamed on Facebook to increase accessibility and reach.
The first session, held in April, was a stock taking exercise to get participant input and better understand what the needs and demands for training were. As the coronavirus pandemic spread to more SDI affiliated countries, federations were confronted with fake news about various aspects of the pandemic. Before long, it became clear how dangerous and destructive these fake news reports were – misrepresenting the disease and increasing the risk of infection. In response, KYC.TV hosted its second online training session to help participants identify and analyse suspected fake news posts.
As the borders closed and hard lockdowns were enforced in one country after another, participants began requesting updates from their peers in order to better understand their own situation and get a sense of what their futures could look like. This third KYC.TV session was very insightful and helped build pan-African solidarity amongst the youth participants.
As the youth began to adjust to the “new normal” of living in various stages of lockdown, we attempted to bring “regular programming” back to the online training curriculum – turning our focus to storytelling methodologies that would continue to build the participants’ creative capacities. In response to a call for more formal training on documentary storytelling, KYC.TV’s fourth online training session was the first in a series of short courses in small and larger groups focused on new and innovative approaches to this accessible and impactful style. The second session in the documentary masterclass series focussed on story structure and how to move events forward in a film in a coherent and structured way that tells a story, has an emotional impact, and serves as a catalyst for change.
Considering creative and resilient response to the economic impacts of lockdown became critical over this time. In the next session, KYC.TV provided a platform for young entrepreneurs from Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria and other countries across Africa to talk shop and encourage their peers to start their own businesses or professionalise their service offering.
As the programme picked up momentum and new participants joined, we felt it important to provide a special session for everyone to re-introduce themselves, building unity and relationships amongst the participants. Simultaneous translation of English to French in each session also attempted to bridge any barriers between participants. In an effort to alleviate the burden of translation, the team decided to offer some sessions in French. But one of the lessons emerging from this first phase of online trainings is that effective simultaneous translation is key. Going forward, there are plans to ensure that this is done in a more formal, professionalised way – ensuring that all participants are able to contribute and participate equally.
Our next session took place in the wake of the upheaval and indignation that swept across the world following George Floyd’s murder by US police. We took this opportunity to explore themes of morality, ethics and reporting, and discussed the influence and impact of citizen journalism on society at large and challenged the participants to consider how they can use their own storytelling to catalyse change.
In our last four sessions, we brought in special guests to present on a variety of storytelling tools and skills relevant to the participating youth. Special guests ranged from fellow federation youth to professionals from the film/media industry. Sessions seemed to really come alive with a co-presenter that was from the federation, while special guests from the industry drew an audience and helped inspire the participants to professionalize themselves. First, we spoke to Richard Bockarie from Sierra Leone, who described how they designed a mobile app for data collection and offered tips to participants about how to make their own mobile apps. In the Shooting for the Edit masterclass, we built on the previous masterclass training, exploring the different types of shots that should be captured on a shoot and how to use these in the final edit. Our next masterclass focused on cinematography, featuring special guest Leo Purman, a young cinematographer making waves in Los Angeles and New York. He offered practical tips and tricks for developing skills as a cinematographer and how to approach production to get the best results. The last masterclass, “Getting to Grips with Lightroom,” was co-hosted by KYCTV participant Sam Okechukwu from Nigeria, a rising star in the Lagos photography scene who excels at mobile phone photography and Lightroom manipulation.
Photo credit: Zambia KYC TV team
Major takeaways from this first phase of online training include the insights into how effectively peer peer training is, and the impact of featuring special guests from the industry. Going forward we will identify different tutors from federation media teams to prepare and co-present the content and continue to invite special guests. However, special guests need to answer specific questions from the participants and the participants themselves should have some say in who is invited to the MOOC.
A number of participants requested certifications. While this is an important psychological reward, on investigation we found potential employers or investors are actually less impressed with a certificate of participation than with a well worded and insightful letter of recommendation. Certificates simply state that the participant was on a course, while a letter of recommendation is far more personal, providing insight into the character and capability of the participants. As reward and motivation, we will issue letters of recommendation to participants who show work with distinction.
Photo credit: Mukuru Youth Initiative
We all also realised that it is important to adhere to the principle of learning by doing as outlined in the SDI theory of change. Retention of knowledge is very low if it is not linked to action. The MOOC will be designed as a program of action and deliverables from each student will link directly back to their individual learning goal that impacts on their own built environment. The thrust of the MOOC will be co-creation, and this learning cannot be theory based: we are looking to learn as much from participants as we are to teach them.
It is encouraging to see how eager participants are to learn, and how easily they were able to pick up the skills taught and use them to create relevant media. In the next phase of our online training curriculum we are hoping to scale up and diversify the training. There is huge demand for practical, task orientated knowledge production around creating social impact on ground in informal settlements. As the pressures of climate emergency and increasing inequality bite these skills will be hard tested. Time is of the essence, we need to prepare and face resilience.