Teaching Digital Dividends

As the digital revolution unfolds, how can awareness for the opportunities digital technology offers increase? How can basic information on digital features, and ways to reap digital dividends be shared globally, reaching a large number of interested policy makers, experts, and future entrepreneurs?

To foster a large uptake of information on digital technologies and the opportunities offered by digital development, DDP supported the development of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). This course, named Digital Dividends and hosted through the World Bank’s Open Learning Campus (OLC), is based on the World Development Report 2016. In its initial cycle from November to December 2017, it has been made available to more than 3,000 people from 147 countries.

“There is a sense of urgency – our world is rapidly digitizing and policy makers are falling behind in creating a set of smart policies conducive to reap digital dividends,” said Samia Melhem, Lead ICT Policy Specialist at the Bank and a moderator of the MOOC. “There are known good practices on digital development that can be adapted and re-used by policy leaders, education leaders, private sector and industry,” she explained, “and the MOOC raises awareness and provides knowledge on what needs to be done”.

Policies to Make Digital Technologies Work for Development

The MOOC features an ambitious and comprehensive program on digital technologies and some of the key development variables.

  • Week One – “How the Internet Promoted Development?” – kicks off the course with a look at the economic and social impacts of the digital revolution, addressing matters of productivity, inequality and liberty.
  • Week Two – “Accelerating Growth: More Trade, Higher Productivity and Greater Competition” – looks at how digital technology can reduce transaction costs by allowing firms to enter new markets, enhance efficiency and exploit economies of scale.
  • Week Three – “Expanding Opportunities: Creating Jobs and Boosting Labor Productivity” – examines new opportunities and risks that digital technologies provide for employment and earnings.
  • Week Four – “Delivering Services: Connecting for a Capable and Accountable Government” – focuses on how digitalization can both make governments more effective and empower citizens.
  • “Policy Implications: Making the Internet Universal, Affordable and Safe” – is the topic in Week Five, examining the next generation policies for improving connectivity around the world and strengthening cybersecurity, of vital importance as more and more information is shared online.
  • The course’s sixth and final week – “National Priorities: Making the Internet Work for Everyone” underscores the need for governments to emphasize digital technology in their national development plans.

Debate and Discussion

In its first cycle, the interactive sections of the course were a constant source of vigorous inquiry. “Why is improving digital connectivity not sufficient to realize full development benefits? How can digital literacy be enhanced, as a skill to realizing the benefits of digital development?” were just some of the questions participants raised.

The lively discussions helped increase the understanding for digital technologies, and the opportunities for low- and middle-income countries to leverage them to leapfrog into a digital future. As Tim Kelly, Lead ICT Policy Specialist at the World Bank and a co-author of the World Development Report 2016 pointed out, “one of the reasons for creating the MOOC was to enable a wider number of people to participate in the consultation and dissemination process, and to test out the recommendations it offers to stakeholders.”

“The World Bank Group is looking at disruptive technologies for development and this MOOC is a prime example,” said Sheila Jagannathan, Lead Learning Specialist at the Open Learning Campus at the World Bank. “MOOCs bridge a vital gap between the vast body of knowledge created by well researched publications from the World Bank Group and the kinds of accessible learning that many global citizens are interested in acquiring.”

For more information on the MOOC Digital Dividends, please visit: https://www.edx.org/course/digital-dividends-strengthening-analog-wbgx-wdr01x