The Digital Technology & Education Society
DTES recently signed an Memorandum of Understanding with USAID’s Development innovations in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Development Innovations is a USAID-funded project implemented by Development Alternatives Inc (DAI). The first semester begins in March 2015.
Development Innovations objective is to encourage the use of information and communication technology to accelerate the pace of social change in Cambodia. It provides support to a growing community of innovators and facilitate collaborations among technology and service providers, the social innovation community and civil society organizations to develop technology based solutions that can improve the development impact of their activities.
The DTES uses a digital trade school model as opposed to a funded program model. Commercial web design and development contracts are designed and built by the instructors hired by the DTES and Development Innovations provides the space, computer labs and presentation rooms and equipment as well as administrative support to manage the application and review process.
The name and web address is a play on the acronym DTES – Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside – Canada’s poorest postal code. The school was founded in 2008 but only ran for one semester. It was funded by under the Metro Vancouver Urban Aboriginal Strategy and successfully trained five Aboriginal students in digital arts and production technology. Originally there were six students enrolled but one had to drop out due to health reasons.
The students were taught the design and development process using a popular open source CMS (content management system) as well as graphics and image processing tools, navigational design and client communications. Remarkably within thirty days all five students had learned the framework behind the CMS as well as basic image editing skills and were able to produce a commercial grade website on their own.
When the funding ran out however there was no model for continuing the project and it was put on the shelf.
The trade school model doesn’t require outside funding as it has been designed to be self-sustaining. The DTES instructors, designers and programmers use a wide variety of open source tools for creating robust, enterprise level web sites These CMS tools are widely used in the web deployment space (over 70%) and there is a new super demand for the redevelopment of over 90% of all websites on the planet. The demand is mobile driven as all websites have to be redeveloped to be responsive (read: mobile friendly) within the next couple of years. Google recently announced that it will be downgrading websites that are not mobile friendly in the near future. This market demand could translate into tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars for training, education and skills development in our inner cities and around the world. Impact sourcing makes a difference.