In the summer of 2011, CDN representatives Jeff and Maria went to Nepal to host Youth Summit 6 in Sankhu village. The goal of Youth Summit 6 was to introduce Voicethread technology to 8 villages in Nepal.
What is Voicethread?
With VoiceThread, group conversations are collected and shared in one place from anywhere in the world. All with no software to install.
A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways – using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). Share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to record comments too.
Users can doodle while commenting. VoiceThreads can even be embedded to show and receive comments on other websites and exported to MP3 players or DVDs to play as archival movies. See Voicethread.
Youth Summit Day 1
The first part of the day consisted of an informal greet and share time with the community of technology leaders. This was a time to reunite and share what is happening in each center. For many youth, this is one of the most valuable part of the Youth Summit. Challenges are shared and expertise is passed on from one center to another. Because Nepal is geographically challenged (The rugged Himalayan mountains present a physical barrier for access and communication), the Youth Summits provide a valuable time for everyone to check in.
The second part of the day consisted of showcasing the Voicethread technology. Participants were shown samples of already created Voicethreads. Many were excited and amazed at the potential of what they can use Voicethread for in their villages!
The last part of the day focused on technical training. Sankhu is one of the few telecenters in Nepal that was wired with ADSL. Even with broadband, technical challenges were present. When one clicks on a button, the response is typicall delayed for a long time. The one nice aspect of Voicethread is its ability to locally cache content (voices) and to upload to the server, despite the bandwidth issue. By the way, bandwidth issues were also further impacted by the many rolling blackouts that happened during the summer season. (Nepal’s electricity is mostly hydro-driven and infrastructure is weak at best.)
Youth Summit Day 2
Day 2 was all about content building and practicing. Youth worked in small groups to discuss key issues each village was facing. Here are a few topics:
Awareness of benefits technology can provide
Smoking marajuana and use of other drugs
Health and sanitation
Savings and microfranchising
Youth then created topics and enlisted other youth to participate on their Voicethreads.
The Youth summit ended with planning a small pilot in each village. The participants were to go back and use Voicethread to engage the local communities in discussions on key issues.
The answer is simple. Nepal faces one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. With local communities not knowing how to read and write, using computers will always be a challenge. Through Voicethread, villagers can interact with valuable learning content through other forms of literacy- listening and speaking. This method has already been perfected by CDN’s partner ProLiteracy in their use of FAMA Codes. The goal is to take the same approach to learning and use Voicethread as the vehicle to learn from and with others in the community.
In the extreme rural community of Maskichaap, where there is no Internet and very little electricity, Jeff and Maria showcased the beta version of the Voicethread iPad application. CDN believes that this is the key to engaging rural communities. iPads are easy to use due to the kinesthetic interface and the iPad app allows for offline discussions to take place. We are excited to see where this technology goes in the next few years in Nepal!
*The Youth Summit was made possible by a generous partnerships with Voicethread and other donors from USA.