The Digital Welcome project was presented at the “IT skills for young refugees and migrants” parallel breakout session at ALL DIGITAL Summit on 18th October.

Moderator Nenja Wolbers, Project Manager and Trainer at Stiftung Digitale Chancen and partner in the WELCOME project, opened the session by presenting the topic.The main objective of this interactive session was to discuss what digital skills refugees and migrants needand how creative IT trainings can foster their social and digital inclusion.

Nenja presented the Digital Welcome project and training programme, “fresh-from-the-oven” piloting experience.

She explained that project develops a training programme tailored to the needs of migrants and refugees to help them integrate into the host country. The programme consists of four modulesCoding with Scratch, Digital Storytelling, Digital Journalism and Soft Skills. She emphasized that the main goal was to build the self-confidence of the migrants and refugees and make them feel valuable and valued. This is why the programme includes a practical part where the young participants organise a workshop for other migrants and local people on the IT topics they learned. Being in the role of mentors is very empowering for them.

Nenja explained each module in more details. To illustrate the link between offline and online activities Nenja invited the participants for an energiser called Chic-Chac-Photo. Participants were divided into groups of 3. The moderator gave each team a word (e.g. marriage, freedom, immigration, creativity, peace, etc.) and within 3 seconds, the team had to improvise and mimic it. When moderator says “Chik – Chak – Photo”, everyone freezes, and the other teams have to guess which word is presented. This energizer demonstrates the many different ways in which concepts and images can be interpreted and presented, and is very suitable as an introduction to the Digital Storytelling module.

An example of an energised for the Coding module is “The Blind Robot” where one person gets blindfolded (“The blind robot”), another one has to position him/herself in the space not too far from the robot (“The virus”), and a third participant (‘The programmer”) has to lead the robot to the virus. The robot does not understand human language like “go left”, “walk forward” or any spoken instruction. It only understands code. And the code is e.g.: clap hands = move one step forward, stamp feet = turn 90° to your left, click your tongue = turn 90° to your right and so on. The idea is to show that long commands can be replaced by short symbols (like in a coding language).

The last part of the session was an open discussion among participants about their reactions and recommendations how to improve the Digital Welcome training programme. Reactions and opportunities for further use of the programme included:

  • The aspect of feeling valued is important for everyone and should be part of any training programme, not only those for refugees and migrants. In this sense, the Digital Welcome training programme is a very good example.
  • The target group of the programme could be broadened. Participants enquired about the possibility to adapt the programme to people with disabilities or to elderly people. This is definitely something we will think about.

Recommendations included:

  • Include a part on how to train people to give/receive feedback.
  • Explain why soft skills exercises are necessary and not just playful experience. One participant suggested to show a funny picture of what happens at the work place when people don’t have soft skills. Here’s an example:

  • Explain what happens after the training, what should participants expect, how the results of the training (the acquired knowledge, skills and competences) will provide solution to their problems.
  • Pre-assessment of participants’ needs, and expectations was recommended.
  • A mixed training for refugees and migrants and local youth was recommended to increase the level of inclusion, but it was debated whether this is effective as a first step or should only come after the refugees and migrants have been through a first dedicated training.

Participants concluded that the Digital Welcome programme is very interesting and innovative and has a lot of potential for scaling up with other target groups or with mixed groups.