Learning is Local: The Impact of Localizing Digital Skill Content

Learning is Local: The Impact of Localizing Digital Skill Content

The ability to keep up with changes happening around the world– major or minor- can be the difference between changing the quality of your life for better or remaining stagnant  while the rest of the world passes you by.

The phrase ‘information is power’ captures this perfectly. However, a key component of what makes information power is the ability to understand and apply that information under the right circumstances, to optimize a potential outcome.

During my NYSC year in Ondo state, I met Broda Kazeem the carpenter, who (between the two of us) I am convinced that the only reason he still gets customers is his charming personality. If you have a simple design, Kazeem is your guy. But, you see that off-the-wall design you got off Pinterest?! If you don't have the patience to go over at least five iterations of your product design in Yoruba - push that number to 10 if you can’t speak the language - save your money and tears dears. The last time I spoke with Broda Kazeem, he complained bitterly about how he wished he could fine tune his skills. Unfortunately, he could not leave his shop unattended to and could not understand how to navigate the internet and the content “on-the-line” (read online).

One might argue that this inability to understand information off and online is a social class problem. While there is some truth to that, it is not the most accurate view of the problem. My friend’s well-to-do but uneducated father once got a smartphone and needed to install apps to connect with his children. He spoke fluent pidgin English and so did not understand the English-heavy tutorials at his disposal. He visited Akpan, the local “tech” guru who took advantage of his lack of knowledge to charge him #1,000 per action. Yes, you read that right. If Mr Basil needed to save a contact, Akpan would charge him a thousand naira. Let us just say that when Akpan, who obviously lacks the fear of God, was done with Mr. Basil, he was almost ready to buy his first Benz.

Even though the two scenarios above happened so many years ago, fast forward into the future, to the present-day Nigeria,this problem of localization being an impediment to learning remains. The problem experienced by both personas is not so much that there is no information to solve their peculiar problems, but more to the fact that the content available is not crafted in a manner that is easy for them to understand. The existing information in their case is not power but can quickly become so if it is localized.

So let us not even front, this is where LearnAM shines. Period. Localization is not the same as translation to local languages. Localization is delivering this content in a language that the people understand within the context of their culture, mannerisms, and environment. It is most important to do this in heterogeneous communities like countries in Africa where even though there might be an official language of communication and a general experience of nationhood, pockets of people in different communities may have differing realities and may not have achieved proficiency in that language.

LearnAM provides localized educational and informative content that covers a broad range of topics under digital and vocational skills as well as personal development. This simple yet robust app when preinstalled into smartphones will save a lot of Mr Basils from Akpan and the charming Broda Kazeemcan access the necessary vocational skills training and content needed to better his craft.