“How to work with disadvantaged groups to empower them as prosumers” workshop @ ALL DIGITAL Summit

How to work with disadvantaged groups to empower them as prosumers workshop was held at ALL DIGITAL Summit on October 4th, 2017 in Barcelona by Veronique De Leener, Director of Maks vzw. Here we are sharing the workshop materials.

PowerPoint presentation for the workshop: PPT.pdf

About the expert

Veronique De Leener is the founder and director of Maks vzw since 1999. Before working at Maks, Veronique was a director of a VET school, for youngsters between 15 and 20 years old (alternate working-studying). From 1982 till 1987, she was a teacher in the same school, teaching Dutch, French, and computer technology. Veronique is also a certified coach.  She is a member of the ALL DIGITAL Board.

Purpose of the workshop

In many digital skills training courses, facilitators focus on training learners how to use a specific software like Word, Excel, Photoshop, etc. instead of promoting computational thinking. Our experience with low-skilled learners showed us that creative processes with the computer can increase not only digital skills but also 21st century skills like problem solving, creativity, communication, and self-expression. This workshop was aimed at presenting different innovative pathways to work on digital projects with low skilled and disadvantaged learners. The workshop is addressed to e-facilitators, trainers and teachers looking for new methods of teaching digital skills to engage low skilled learners through co-creative approaches.


Computational thinking skills are becoming very important in our society and working life. However, so far formal education has been using ICT to focus purely on computer literacy – teaching students, how to word-process, how to work a spreadsheet and how to surf the Internet. There is nowadays an ever-growing need to teach computer science, ICT and digital literacy, thus going beyond the skills of how to use a computer, to teach people how to learn, how to solve a problem, how to code, how to create a program, how to create a digital story, how a computer works and how to make it work for them! Our main challenge is to empower disadvantaged learners to become prosumers. A prosumer is not only consuming media but also creating media. We try to work on the second level digital divide by analysing how different groups develop different skills using the computer. Often, low skilled people use the computer, the tablet or the smartphone only as consumers and mainly for entertainment purposes (e.g. play a game etc.), while high skilled people tend to use them as prosumers, as tools to learn and educate themselves. We think it is important for low skilled people to start using the computer as a tool to find solutions and resolve problems.

Inclusive educational approaches to train disadvantaged groups

When we work on digital projects with low skilled and disadvantaged learners we want our students not only to use digital tools but to actively create technology and be inspired by looking behind the scenes of ICT. We don’t use the traditional way of learning ICT. We always organise training group sessions and ask the participants to work together to find a solution to a specific problem and create a digital product at the end of the workshop. This creative process helps them to reinforce self-esteem. We use different inclusive educational approaches both in formal and non-formal educational contexts with different target groups. Among them:

  • Using digital storytelling to talk with young people about violent radicalisation
  • Creating digital stories about societal issues using smartphones or tablets
  • Using digital storytelling with refugees and with women victims of violence
  • Cultural Education with young disadvantaged people (e.g. producing videos combining famous paintings with photos and music)
  • Intergenerational projects
  • Training drug addicted youngsters living in a shelter on how to develop a game about drug addiction: learn how to code the game during 1-week project

 Examples of digital stories created by the participants:

What are the key ingredients to work with disadvantaged groups?

  • make a digital product (e.g. game, video, digital story)
  • be creative
  • different skills mixed
  • participative approaches
  • short duration of the training: from 15 to 30 hours
  • sharing component is important (participants share their products with an audience)

Some examples

 The YEP “Youth e-perspectives on migration” project: project partners developed and implemented a training methodology on how to organise a series of workshops. Guidelines on how to apply the methodology were also be produced. The idea is to teach young people to use digital media to address important societal issues; the focus topic is refugees and migration affecting many countries in Europe. Young people participated in an international training on photo creation and editing, digital storytelling, creating a website/blog and using social media.

Capital Digital project was implemented by Maks in some disadvantaged areas of Brussels. Capital Digital successfully trained 15-18 years old youngsters form disadvantaged backgrounds, migrants and asylum seekers on how to teach coding and programming to their younger 10-12 years old peers in neighbourhoods with a low socio-economic status. The young “e-facilitators” learned how to engage children in coding activities in a playful way. This peer-learning pedagogical method showed to be very effective in fostering the STEM education and the inclusion of disadvantaged students both inside and outside the classroom. Capital Digital methodology and training toolkit is now developed for non-formal education for disadvantaged youngsters, mostly migrants and refugees in Belgium. This methodology will be soon tested in formal education involving schools from disadvantaged areas in different European countries through the CODINC (Coding for Inclusion) project.

BRIGHTS project aims to foster social cohesion and promote intercultural dialogue and democratic values in Europe. It promotes Global Citizenship Education (GCE) in formal and non-formal Education with the help of digital storytelling (DS) techniques. The MOOC “Addressing Global Citizenship Education through digital storytelling” will be launched in February 2018 in Belgium, Croatia, Italy and Greece to train secondary school teachers and trainers working with young people at risk of marginalisation. Please visit the project website for more information about this training opportunity: http://www.brights-project.eu

Data/ privacy/ IP issues

Learners have to be aware about the issues of Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/ and the free use of images and music. Facilitators and learners must respect privacy of other participants when they are showing their insights.

How to train the trainer/ prepare staff?

If you want to train your staff on how to work with disadvantaged groups to empower them as prosumers, trainers should be trained to use co-creative participatory processes, supporting the learners in approaching their narratives from a position of strength rather than from a vantage point that reinforces victimization. At least two days of training and a lot of individual work from the trainer is necessary.

 Where to find more information online/ good online resources


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