16 November 2019

Young Digital Leaders at the World Forum for Democracy

We showcased the Young Digital Leaders Project during the World Forum for Democracy, hosted by the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. Here's how we did and what guests wanted to know about our project.

This year's edition of the WFD asked a question that has been on everyone's lips lately: Is democracy in danger in the information age? To discuss this, a series of Labs and Panels tackled some specific themes like fake news, youth, journalism etc..

Our colleague, Adelina, was a presenter in Lab 1: Human 2.0 Youth and Digital Empowerment, representing YDL. Here, the idea that with the multiplication of tools to access the internet, we are exposed to information at a very early age was raised. Then, some of the question this implies are: In this digital age, of fast-paced and often biased information flows, how can we empower young people? They are the ones that share stories, posts and create the “information bubbles” of tomorrow. How can we train them to spot fake news? What tools can we give them to develop their digital skills and their critical thinking?

"Young Digital Leaders is a great tool for democracy in this age where, whether we like it or not, the online life is gaining more and more importance.

The internet is both a blessing and a curse. All the information is a click away, hence the blessing, but 99% of the content is not moderated what so ever, hence the curse. 

An initiative that promotes critical thinking as they key skill in this fake news era, making sure youngsters are informed, thus powerful, knowing their rights and being positively influenced by all the stakeholders in their lives, is the most efficient way to ensure a healthy and safe online life.

And if in the offline life we have history, math, geography, sciences etc., to help us improve, in the online life, YDL jumps in giving a hand with digital citizenship education elements."

Young Digital Leaders Project Manager

Adelina presenting YDL

Here are some questions that arose after the presentation and Adelina's answers:

Q: Should you involve the school psychologist in the learning process too, not just the teachers and parents?
A: Of course, we imagined this golden trifecta of student-parent-teacher interaction as a starting point of an ideal approach. Involving a school psychologist is definitely food for thought, although we would have to find professionals willing to follow our training and be adaptable as many of them activate in more than 1 school.

Q: Can your program be implemented in the southern countries (mostly Africa) that are facing digital poverty?
A: Sure. Of course there would be some logistical challenges to setting up, maybe, some digital hubs or learning spaces. The main idea is, though, that YDL's teachings can easily be extrapolated to the offline life too, so whoever would have the initiative to implement it there could start with using offline examples and then work their way to providing access to technology. It could be a multiple step process.

Q: Do you design the learning tools?
A: Our partners at Google.org and ISD design them, GEYC ensures the national adaptation/relevance and implementation.

Q: How can we implement YDL in our countries? Can we find the resources anywhere?
A: The (Romanian adapted) resources are publicly available at bit.ly/ydlplatform . To implement them in your countries you could follow the same process as we did: translate the English curriculum in your local language and adapt the examples to your national context.

Q: How do you measure the impact of your program?
A: Through both qualitative and quantitative research, both short term and longitudinal. An easy to understand example is how we apply student surveys: one survey before the students come in contact with the curriculum, same survey shortly after interacting with the curriculum and same survey one month after they attended the workshops. That's how we can see if there's been a change in knowledge level, declared online usage and overall confidence about certain subjects.

If you want to find out more about Young Digital Leaders, follow our news section on the subject at geyc.ro/young-digital-leaders.

Hemicycle session