This week, NDI launched its new Arabic-language e-learning and training platform TaalamSharek.org, or “learn-engage” in English. Redesigned with support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), this platform, which is also designed to be used on mobile phones, represents a new era in online engagement with and among democracy advocates in the Middle East and North Africa. The platform allows citizens to build their civic and political skills on topics such as campaign planning, elections, citizen participation, governance, and political party development.
TaalamSharek went live during an event hosted by NDI on March 2, 2016, to discuss new opportunities for online engagement in the Middle East and North Africa. As Internet penetration continues to grow in the region, local and international organizations alike are broadening their approaches to support democratic development.
“After the Arab Spring, activists lacked a concrete plan for governance, and democracy training programs were becoming increasingly in demand. People wanted information on how to gain skills in governance and how to become more involved,” said Leslie Campbell, NDI’s senior associate and regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, at the event. “Popular social media platforms are also responding to user trends and making it easier for activists around the world to organize and engage others in the issues they care about.”
“In the MENA region, there are 121 million monthly active Facebook users, and 110 million of those are most active on their mobile phones,” said Facebook representative Katie Harbath, who directs the social media platform’s global politics and government outreach.
Derek Caelin, a specialist at the PeaceTech Lab, highlighted the increasing relevance of these online tools for political development, pointing out that even local organizations in conflict-affected areas like Iraq are using technology in their outreach and development programs
TaalamSharek meets a demand from people in the Arab world who are seeking to build their political and civic skills and their understanding of the fundamentals of democracy. With over 52 e-learning modules with step-by-step trainings and more than 100 manuals and guidebooks produced and translated by NDI’s Arabic Publications Center, the platform provides educational resources in a way that is intuitive and manageable to regional partners. Activists can sign up for weekly newsletters, which highlight new resources and case studies, and feature tips on political skills. NDI will continue to develop and upload new e-learning modules and training resources on a regular basis.
The site’s resources are free and available in a wide array of formats including video, script, powerpoint, audio, worksheet, and publication, allowing the content to be more accessible to persons with disabilities and ensuring local trainers are better equipped to teach these skills to members of their community or political party.
TaalamSharek replaces an e-learning platform that was originally developed with support from the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL). The site saw a 367 percent increase in traffic since it became a regional resource in November 2014 with more than 1.3 million views in aggregate. Visitors to the site downloaded over 90,000 learning materials, including powerpoint presentations, worksheets, templates and educational publications.
Please contact the TaalamSharek team ([email protected]) with any inquiries or requests for resources.
Published on March 4, 2016