Digital Activism Training in Goa, India

On Wednesday I traveled to Goa, India to take part in Community Video Camp, a week-long training for over 100 producers of community video media in India.  The training was organized by the NGO Video Volunteers, which trains Community Video Units.  CVU’s are composed of media producers who create videos about the issues of concern to marginalized communities around India.  They then screen these films in the villages and slums in which they were shot in order to serve as catalysts for action.

Yesterday I led a full-day training on digital activism for the community video producers.  Though they are creating digital content, they distribute it through offline screenings and they have not used the content to raise awareness of the issues beyond the villages in which they are shot.  The goal of my training was to give them tools and strategies for bringing their content to an international audience.

When I do a training I learn as much as I teach, and this was particularly true of this session.  I usually train activists that are already digitally immersed, but when I started off talking about social networks to these participants, who spend little time online, the content didn’t connect.  At the suggestion of VV co-founder Jessica Mayberry I shifted to a discussion of issues and messages.  As media producers, the producers easily connected to this topic and when we transitioned back into technology platforms later in the day by talking about blogging and mobile, the value for disseminating these messages was clear. In the future, I will start with the issues participants are already working on and move on to technology later in the training.  After all, this is how digital activism works in real life: the cause comes first and the technology is a means to that end.

Training hits the sweet spot in the afternoon: participants spontaneously crowded around the laptop during the blogging demonstration.

Non-Indian participants form part of a jury giving feedback on advocacy messages for an international audience developed by the participants.

Participants present a list of influential people in their community they would contact via SMS to drive audience to their outdoor screenings during the mobile activism module

Our tireless translator, Anil, who is also a documentary film maker.  The training was conducted in English, Hindi, and Telugu.

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