Wanji: Gamified Narratives Delivered Through Basic Telephony
Our solution's stage of development:Growth
For marginalized populations, a little information can change lives in a big way. This solution uses basic telephony to provide interactive, educational learning through spoken audio. This allows a geographically remote audience with limited literacy access to salient information in their own spoken language through appropriate technology.
'The future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed.” William Gibson The dark side of digital democratization is a deepening digital divide in the developing world, where the vast majority goes not only without internet, but without electricity or running water. But this lack of infrastructure allows developing nations to skip stages of technological evolution. Many African nations went from having few landlines directly to widespread mobile telephony. There is a similar revolution currently underway in mobile banking. We aim to evolve mobile learning in a way that people can use effectively with the tools at their disposal.
Why our solution will solve the problem:
Communication is how we connect to one another and to the broader world, and for it to impact societal norms and attitudes, it must engage, educate and entertain. Research has shown that people think/remember in story and act/choose through emotion. We use these principles to reach people where they are, with the tools they have, in ways that speak to them - motivating increased and more meaningful involvement of these populations in creating social change. A pilot experiment demonstrated measurable impact on knowledge acquisition and intended behavior change around finances. It’s time to scale.
Our target outcomes:
We will partner with organizations with a training mission and curriculum across the 12 countries to which we currently have access. Greatest beneficiaries are marginalized populations who have a basic cellphone but limited access to training/education: particularly those who are rural, homebound and/or have limited literacy. They have tollfree access through telecom partners, and programs will be promoted through a combination of partner outreach and SMS promotion. Certain impact measures can be collected and measured through data on the backend, particularly knowledge acquisition, and optimized to increase effectiveness and scale proven solutions. Partnership model ensures fiscal sustainability.
The populations we will benefit initially:
The regions we will benefit initially:
The technologies we employ:
Why our solution is unique:
Our market survey has shown that PVI is currently the only organization to have attempted a game-based interactive narrative designed to educate low literacy populations in rural areas via a Voice Interactive Response platform. The team we are building is comprised of scholars, creatives, educators and technologists. While careful piloting and evaluation have been successful, the current need is fiscal and technical support to refine our skills to extend from the theoretical understanding of interactive narratives to project management, strategic planning and impact evaluation. We are sharing our early results through scholarly channels and reaching out to potential partners.
Why our solution is human-centered:
Members of our board and senior leadership have been trained in Human Centered Design (HCD) and include alumni of THNK: The Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership. We deployed a HCD approach over the course of more than two years, working with local communities, NGOs, creatives, designers and scholars to develop a tool that fit user needs more closely.Through several cycles of prototyping, testing and iterating, the current model emerged. We’ve been excited to share our early successes AND failures at scholarly conferences. That said, we have another key round of iteration before it is ready to scale.
How people will access our solution:
This tool piggybacks on appropriate technology (basic mobile delivered through voice interactive response) that is already in the hands of our target users. It has the immediate potential to reach millions of users quickly and efficiently. We have a partnership in place that could deploy this platform across 12 countries (primarily in East Africa), with plans to scale to dozens more in the coming three years. Through this partnership, telecommunication companies have set aside toll free numbers and access to this platform. This would allow free access to these services to remote populations in a spoken language they understand.
Technology-Readiness Level:6-8 (Demonstration)
How we will sustain our team financially:
The goal for this project is to work with partners who have distribution needs and budgets, but not the tools to reach the last mile. By sharing costs and by creating holistic partnerships that play to each member's strengths, we can ensure the mechanisms are in place to scale as needed. After an initial infusion of capital to refine the platform and the data portion of the impact tool, this will be a financially self-sustaining project, able to deploy to more than a dozen nations for a variety of partners-providing them outreach and metrics that they cannot now access.
After our initial internal pilots, we collaborated with Mercy Corps Uganda to launch three games (on financial literacy, soil management and improved farming) in six languages nationwide in Uganda in early 2017. More partners are emerging, but we want to refine the platform first before offering it at scale.
The factors limiting our success:
The potential of this project to assess the impact of media learning is enormous. Every decision made by every user across exposures is collected and has the potential to demonstrate increased understanding and learning. But we currently lack resources to work with data scientists who can make sense of this big data. Though there is a partnership in place that can scale this project to more than a dozen nations in Sub-Saharan Africa, this missing measurement component is KEY to changing lives at scale.
How long we have been working on our solution:2 years
How long it will take to develop a pilot:We have already developed a pilot.
How long it will take to scale beyond our pilot:6-12 months
Our expected annual budget:
How much of our budget we've secured to date:
We're looking for partners in these fields:
Why we're applying to Solve:
Our organization is a media innovation lab that develops new approaches that are smarter, more cost effective and more scalable than what currently exists. Some of our projects have succeeded, some have failed. But all of them have had the sincere intention to change lives for the better. Of our many projects over the last six years, we believe that this has the greatest potential to truly make change at scale. But it requires a broader community of passionate professionals with a range of expertise. That is why we are reaching out to Solve.
Our current partners:
Past/current program partners include Mercy Corps and Lwala Community Alliance
Implementation partners are Human Network International and Voto
Business Advisors came through Net Impact
Creative Advisors include media executives from Disney and PBS
Scholar Advisors include researchers from Cornell and Annenberg School for Communication
We lack: technical & funding partners
- Dr Paul Falzone Executive Director, Peripheral Vision International