At this point, we have heard the words “COVID-19,” “lockdown,” “social distancing” and “during these difficult times” one too many times. 2020 was indeed a difficult time for all of us. Each of us continues to experience the pandemic’s tumultuous effects differently and to varying degrees.
Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are one of the groups most impacted by the pandemic. The International Labour Organization’s recent report indicates that more than 70% of young people who study or combine study with work have been adversely affected by the closing of schools, universities, training centers and workplaces. The pandemic’s impacts on youth employment, education, productivity and mental health will be felt for years to come.
As a technology non-profit committed to breaking down the barriers to digital learning for young people across the world, 2020 was an interesting year for us. We could not claim to truly understand the wide range of unique challenges young people face in an unprecedented landscape. In the learning space, the challenges are many: access to devices, reliable connectivity, and adapting to digital learning formats. We do know though, that meeting these challenges effectively requires more than just posting a lecture or pdf textbook online. Good digital learning leverages the strengths of technology, not trying to replicate brick and mortar classrooms online.
Young people are Rumie learners. While in many ways, their lives have been the most disrupted by the crisis, they remain the most hopeful. 2020 highlighted the need to be more deliberate in ensuring young people are heard, valued and actively involved in the development of inclusive responses. That is exactly why we launched Rumie Solve.
Rumie Solve is our quarterly community problem-solving event for current and future Rumie learners in North America, where we take a challenge facing digital education and collaboratively solve it over a rapid ideation sprint. Put another way, it’s community-first innovation. The outcome? Improving Rumie’s effectiveness with every event by offering youth a direct voice in the learning solutions they can use to reach their goals. By being transparent about the challenges we’re tackling, participants are empowered to share their insight and influence the solution.
Our inaugural event took place on December 22nd 2020, powered by Shaw Communications Inc, in collaboration with our community partners Best Buy Teen Technology Center (DHDC) and NPower Canada. Young people across North America got together in small teams and surfaced 19 recommendations to our problem prompt, “How might we raise awareness of Rumie’s micro-courses among people who need them most?” Four teams pitched their top idea to a panel of judges featuring Courtney Cathcart (Shaw’s Community Investment Manager), Cassandra Rivera (Best Buy Teen Tech Center (DHDC)’s Youth Career Readiness Coach), Bogdan Arsenie (Rumie’s Chief Technology Officer) and Tariq Fancy (Rumie’s Chief Executive Officer).
The recommendations blew us away. They ranged from strictly-moderated feedback mechanisms (usings tools like Discord) to micro-credentialing, targeting specific audience segments through social media campaigns, and integrating Bytes into ambassador programs. The winning team (Adil Sulaiman, Graham McBride and Deisi Bartolon) pitched raising awareness of Rumie’s micro-courses through TikTok challenges and duets that encourage users to engage with and share Rumie within their social networks e.g. a challenge to complete a micro-course within a specific time frame using a Rumie-specific hashtag.
“It was apparent that TikTok is the most used platform by this audience for funny, engaging, viral content (arguably an important part of 2020). Many trends, challenges or life hacks that make its way onto other social media platforms start on TikTok. Rumie Solve participants mentioned that they mostly share content that makes them laugh. Although being funny is one of the most difficult things to do, once we can identify what gets a laugh or is relatable to this demographic at any given point of time, that formula can help create highly engaging learning content with the potential to go viral”.— Yun Ma, Growth Marketing Manager at Rumie.
“The ability to easily search Rumie’s entire library of micro-courses without leaving a partner’s website is an interactive way to empower learners with new content that could benefit their learning outcomes. We are incredibly excited to provide our partners with modern and effective technology tools, so that they can engage their learners in unique ways and drive value”.— Bogdan Arsenie, Chief Technology Officer at Rumie.
To the participants of our first Rumie Solve event – thank you. Your involvement has a ripple effect that supports our mission, making digital learning better for everyone. We’d also like to thank our community partners and our sponsor, Shaw Communications Inc, for powering the event and its outcomes. Solving big problems takes all of us, or as we like to say at Rumie: 5 heads are better than 2.
The next Rumie Solve event is happening on March 16th, where youth across North America will come together to pitch a social media campaign around essential 21st century skills. If you are between the ages of 15-24, Rumie is inviting you to join them to actively shape your experience learning online (learn more here).