Mozilla Receives $670K to Explore Digital Skills, Learning in Kenya

Bobby Richter

Year-long Digital Skills Observatory project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will study trends and methods in the use of mobile technology as people in Kenya use and understand digital financial services.

SAN FRANCISCO (February 19, 2016) — The Mozilla Foundation has announced it will receive a grant for $672,917 over one year from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to explore how digital financial services (DFS) innovations are diffused and shared in mobile-first countries, and how smartphones positively impact the adoption and use of DFS technology among the poor. Learnings will help ensure low-income populations have the skills and confidence to positively leverage DFS and related technology in a way that significantly improves their lives.

The project, titled Digital Skills Observatory, will be run in partnership with Digital Divide Data (DDD) and will function as a year-long research initiative, with focus on community participation, spanning five Kenyan cities: Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Vihiga, and Kilifi. Running from January 2016 to January 2017, the goals of the project are:

Developing an innovative research approach to study how smartphones and digital financial services are adopted and socialized among new users,

Building curriculum, user interfaces and digital literacy tool prototypes that speed learning and adoption of smartphones and DFS, through users’ acquisition of generalizable digital skills,

Developing a network of five research sites where we can continue to conduct community based user research beyond the project timeline.

“Mozilla is committed to building an Internet that’s fully inclusive,” said Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation. “We believe the Web is at its best when everyone is a digital citizen. To do this, we must learn how to unlock opportunity for mobile-first Internet users. Increasingly, the mobile Internet is users’ only portal to online life.”

The Digital Skills Observatory project will engage 150 first-time smartphone users in Kenya who will be divided into two groups: one group will receive digital skills training and access to software prototypes, and the second group will receive no intervention. During the 12-month period, DDD and Mozilla will conduct regular interviews with all participants and collect their experiences and mobile data usage to gauge differences. Periodically, Mozilla will create and iterate on curriculum and software to facilitate effective learning, which will be distributed during digital skills workshops.

Mozilla’s goals include:

  • Understanding impact of digital skills training on the use of DFS, and personal agency and capacity building
  • Understanding how to leverage the smartphone form-factor and usage patterns to increase personal agency and use of DFS
  • Understanding how people learn in P2P and grassroots community education environments
  • Understanding the effects of this learning process on DFS usage and knowledge
  • Understand how gender influences the training experience and adoption

Mozilla will measure impact both qualitatively (participants’ knowledge of technology and evolution) and quantitatively (data usage, content consumption). In keeping with Mozilla’s commitment to open practices, this work and subsequent findings will be shared in the open through regular blogs, publications, and other communications.

About the Mozilla Foundation
The nonprofit Mozilla Foundation is the organizational home of the Mozilla Project, a global community and public interest initiative that believes the Web should be open and accessible to all. To protect the Web as a public resource and empower its users, we create open source products, teach 21st-century skills, conduct global research, and spur grassroots advocacy campaigns. All of this is made possible by full-time staff and thousands of volunteers around the world.

About Digital Data Divide
DDD delivers high-quality, competitively priced business process outsourcing (BPO) solutions to clients worldwide. At the same time, DDD’s innovative social model enables talent from underserved populations to access professional opportunities and earn lasting higher income, including youth from low-income families in developing countries, as well as military spouses and veterans in the USA. This model, established by DDD in 2001, is now called “Impact Sourcing.” DDD is recognized among leading commercial service providers in the Global Outsourcing 10 — and also consistently ranked as one of the Top 100 NGOs in the world.

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  1. Mayra Fernandez wrote on :

    Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Gates for continuing support initiatives that have global impacts. We are committed to empowering people all around the whole by facilitating learning opportunities.

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