The Digital Memory Toolkit is an innovative initiative that addresses the digital literacy gap in African digital community projects. Developed in partnership with the Goethe Institut, this toolkit equips project teams with the necessary insights and tools to undertake digital community projects. These projects not only preserve local knowledge but also empower community members through skills training and engagement. The toolkit serves as an introductory training manual for African NGOs, libraries, archives, museums, and schools, enabling them to initiate and manage digital community projects using open-source technology and community volunteers.
African communities have a rich heritage and culture, but the preservation of this heritage has been challenging due to a lack of digital literacy and resources. This made it difficult for digital community projects to effectively document and preserve local knowledge. Moreover, the absence of relevant skills training and community engagement hindered the empowerment of individuals in these communities.
To address these challenges, the Digital Memory Toolkit was developed as a comprehensive resource. The toolkit is divided into three main parts:
- Project Management: Provides guidance on setting up a digital community project, including project planning and management insights.
- Digital Media Training and E-Skills Development: Focuses on developing digital literacy by offering training on software usage, oral history methodology, and digital resource management. This section is crucial for empowering community members and building capacity.
- Case Studies and First-Hand Accounts: A working toolkit for project teams containing practical examples and narratives from successful digital community projects.
Through this structured approach, the toolkit ensures that project teams are well-equipped to undertake digital community projects while fostering skills development and community engagement.
The Digital Memory Toolkit has had a transformative impact. In 2015, it was awarded the Best Project Award at the IFLA conference, reflecting its significance and effectiveness. Additionally, organizations in South Africa and Kenya have practically employed the toolkit, attesting to its applicability and value in real-world settings. Beyond preservation, the toolkit has played a pivotal role in empowering individuals with digital skills and fostering community involvement.
Building on its success, there is potential for the Digital Memory Toolkit to expand its reach further and continue its mission of preserving cultural heritage and empowering communities through digital literacy. This can be achieved through continuous updates to the toolkit, building more partnerships, and scaling it to other regions. Furthermore, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms can be put in place to assess the toolkit’s long-term impact on communities and ensure its sustainability.
Acknowledging the collaborative effort with the Goethe Institut, the Digital Memory Toolkit sets a precedent for how partnerships can effectively address cultural preservation and digital skills development in Africa.