Day 11: A series of unfortunate events

April 28th, 2008


Today was a bad day. The sweltering heat and humidity of a Calcutta evening saw Bina in a cyber cafe, guiding five journalists out of the ten who were present, on how to login into the Bowbazar Diaries blog. The more we are entering the process of imparting digital literacy, the more the challenges are becoming clear. It is a whole new world for these youth, as they hail from extremely marginalised communities, and everything starting from the interface in English, getting a feel of the keyboard, and the idea of having a “cyber address” (in the form of one's own email id or blog space) as compared to a “geographical address” is completely new. 

Within the first challenging half hour, however, the computers shut down, the cafe technician was away, there was no other cyber cafe in sight, the young people thought they'd had enough practice, and they wanted to be out of that stuffy room.

A series of unfortunate events.

We are really thinking of ways of bringing back the dynamism and involvement of the earlier Diaries sessions, and also how best to approach digital literacy with these youth. Instead of following through with the idea of doing Para Action Projects with them (which they had seemed to be keen at earlier, and later lost interest), we have decided to focus on Writing.  We are looking forward to reading what observations they bring back next week about the Bowbazaar footpaths, which they have themselves suggested as a good subject for their next assignment.

3 thoughts on “Day 11: A series of unfortunate events

  1. Hi Friends,

    Our blogging in Toamasina a province in Madagascar went the same way on their first take. A lot of frustration and deception of course. But the tutors were good sport and invited everyone outside for a drink and discussions. Another technique they use in Antananarivo it’s to open a group blog or work in pair. Emulation and exchanges facilitate the learning process.
    But we had more difficulties in Mahajanga because among the technical problems (electricity was often out, no connection for hours…) the students were afraid of the internet! They were used to hear scaring things about this medium so our strategy was to start each workshop with a screening of different blogs and different digital work (Flickr and videos the other groups have done).
    You can hear our tutor Lindsay her eon this very interesting interview where she shares all the ups and downs of creating a blogging community.

    We’re learning along the way as someone wrote to me lately…

  2. Urbi,

    Honest updates like this one about the frustrations and struggles are just as useful – probably more so – than the celebrations of our successes. After the long break that the Bow Bazaar group took, I think the most important thing is to regain the momentum they had built up. Of course, the ultimate goal of all Rising Voices projects is that each participant is able and encouraged to publish online on their own, but it is understandable that this will take some groups much longer than other. Of course, it doesn’t help when everything goes wrong at the cyber-cafe.

    One idea might be to let the group take a digital camera around their neighborhood to take photographs. You could then help them upload the photographs to their blogs. Once they see their word online, that might give them more motivation to learn how to do it themselves.

  3. Pingback: Rising Voices » Neighborhood Diaries: the challenge of digital literacy

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