A single device trial

During the designing process of BRCK/Moja as an “edge technology” that facilitates access to and engagement with digital content in environments of variable internet connectivity, we identified the possibility for deploying the technology namely BRCK device either at scale or as individual hotspots used in particular locations with particular groups for particular purposes.

Isôoko is using the ‘single device’ trials to gather more detailed qualitative information about user experiences and the potential for effecting behaviour change in a population, than would be possible at the level of a ‘network of devices’ trial.

Single device trial in Rwanda

In Rwanda, Aegis Trust conducted a ‘single device’ trial at the Vision Jeunesse Nouvelle in Rubavu District (Western Province). The Youth Centre was a more appropriate community-based partner, as Aegis Trust’s approach to peacebuilding focuses on youth as an important target audience.

On Friday, 14th February 2020, an Isôoko team visited the Centre to meet with the Leadership and introduce the project, explain the setting up of the device and together define the process of accessing the platform from the time young people reach at the Centre until they are done with the focus group discussion which is the last step as we gather additional offline data to feed the evaluation of the trial.

 User journey experience

During a week of trial, hundreds of youth around the city of Rubavu visited the Centre for various activities (sports, drama, reading, etc.) but this time being able to access the internet was another special and much anticipated opportunity since these young people used to access a 4G network for free sponsored to the Centre by a private company which after sometime had to stop providing the network.

With the help of the staff at the Centre who publicized the availability of Moja Network by word of mouth, young people visiting the Centre could as well ready posters pinned by the Aegis staff in different corners of the Centre.

So many of them showed interest in using the network by queuing for accessing a computer since the Centre has very few laptops available for public use. When one gets to the computer he/she followed this pattern: Connect to BRCK/Moja as per instructions provided on small posters placed on the desk, after being connected watch videos of your choice on Peace and Values produced by the Aegis Trust and respond to survey; then freely browse other content of your choice.

Due to the big number of Youth wanting to access the network and the limitation of computers available to use, the time one group could only spend on a computer was between 20 and 25 minutes.

At the end of one-week trial, our team took another trip to Rubavu to get a firsthand experience on how the trial is going. We spent the whole day on Thursday, 20th February 2020 at the Centre to facilitate the staff on ground as they coordinate young people and technically help those with challenges on connecting to the network. This was also a great opportunity for us to conduct the part two of the trial which is focus group discussions with the youth after using the platform. Youth were randomly approached and asked to be part of the focus group discussions, we gave them a brief introduction about the Isôoko project, the trial, and BRCK/Moja, as well as the purpose of the focus group. Youth were provided with research ethics documents (information sheets and consent forms); after reading information sheets they were given time to ask questions then sign consent forms if they wanted to participate in the discussions.

With the use of guiding questionnaires, our interaction with the youth provided us with data about their perspective on and responses to the technology. The overall observation is that this technology and platform had a massive impact on the users who repeatedly requested to have this device remaining at the Centre forever because it not only helped them access the internet but provided them with content (video) that they said was special in terms of the stories, people and concept which help them become better citizen, children and future leaders.

To conclude our time in Rubavu, we had a similar focus group with the staff at Vision Jeunesse Nouvelle because we also wanted to hear their experience in having the device and technology at the Centre. Their statements were also positive and even touched much more in thinking about the future of the potential partnership between the Centre and Isôoko project. Many of them said that having a device and network has increased the number of Youth visiting the Centre and content provided on the platform inspired them to do more with the youth in the community since they also have different programs that focus on peace building, citizenship and social cohesion.

Next phase after Trails…

We can confidently say that the overall ‘single device’ trial was a success despite few challenges in preparation and actual trial of the device on ground which has shown technical issues on device in shutting itself down even when batteries are full, delaying in restarting, and sometimes freezing of the platform. With the plan to acquire new devices by the time we start Pilots in Summer, we are hopeful they will solve these technical issues.

Discussing the next step, we explain to the staff at the Centre the difference between trials and pilots. Trails being a first stage focusing on assessing the Performance & Functionality of a solution; and preparatory to the pilots which will further develop and build upon the experiments undertaken in the trials to address larger group assessing Demonstrable Impact of a solution; does the intervention lead to positive outcomes for end users and/or target groups, and if so to what extent?

At the end, we hope lessons learned from undertaking the trails and pilots will for example: Improve (potentially) Aegis Trust and other Peacebuilding organisations to decide on whether BRCK/Moja is an effective technology for the dissemination of Peace and Values Education content and for evaluating the outcomes of content consumption.