Those who are now teenagers will be in charge of resolving complex problems in 2050, in particular those related to the climate crisis and its impact on cities. They will need to be equipped with soft skills to develop generosity, creativity or teamwork; unfortunately, traditional schools are not prepared for this task yet. The Mayor's office from Suba, Bogotá, in alliance with te Bogotá Lab iBO and with the World Bank, developed an experiment to test a gamified program that uses ICT to connect teens with social challenges through a process of structured innovation.
There are different types of problems to be addressed by EVOKE. Here is a sample of these:
- The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) highlighted the importance of involving young people in social processes. Under the Students4change initiative they warned of the difficulty of put in practice the teaching of skills for social innovation in Latin America.
-In Colombia, the youth unemployment rate for the first quarter of 2021 was 22.5%. In the town of Suba, in Bogotá, 19% of young people are NEET and close to 50% of young people do not go to university when they finish school. According to the SDG Index for Colombia, in 2030 the country will only comply with 2 of the 17 objectives.
What is the challenge to solve?
- How to get young people to build sustainable life projects?
- How to ensure that your life projects contribute to the resolution of social problems?
- How to stimulate the type of skills required to be an entrepreneur and function in an uncertain and complex world?
- How to do all of the above on a massive scale and with strategies that connect young people?
- How to ensure that the results are sustainable once the solution is deployed?
Imagine for a moment that you could foresee the future. Now bring yourself forward to an idyllic future where the cities are sustainable, the problems in education have been solved and each inhabitant of the planet has access to drinking water, as well as to resources that allow them to have decent life projects.
What would they do if they discovered that there is an organization that seeks to destabilize the future for personal ambitions? Would people do something to maintain their timeline as they know it? Or would they decide to straighten the course again?
Now imagine that there is not only one organization trying to alter the future, but there is another one that seeks to keep it as such.
That organization is called EVOKE and when it determines that there are aspects to correct in the timeline because its counterpart called Broken has interfered with it, it summons the most flexible minds on the planet to contribute to the resolution of specific missions to straighten the way. This is what happens in EVOKE. It is a gamified program that brings together young people of all characteristics, so that they become agents of change for design innovative solutions that solve the most pressing problems on the planet using Design Thinking.
To achieve the above, EVOKE is hosted in a digital platform where the agents receive their missions and choose the tools to carry them out. To undertake the missions successfully, each team will have to strengthen their empathy skills, they must become more creative, braver, analytical, collaborative, and they will need to build concrete solutions with the resources at hand.
The teams receive a set of challenges for 12 weeks, which by solving them, they become real projects of social innovation. The most outstanding teams receive a series of incentives to continue with their life projects related to the proposed solutions.
About EVOKE – Suba2022
EVOKE was created by the World Bank in South Africa in 2010 and has showcased the ability to create impact in the generation of 21st century skills. Unfortunately, it has not found a way to be widely available.
To solve this, in 2022 an alliance was formed between the town of Suba in Bogotá, the World Bank and the company Qüid Lab, to carry out an experiment that aims to identify the aspects that EVOKE requires to grow in an environment like the one in Colombia. Within this framework, four main hypotheses were defined:
- The school environment is the best scenario to institutionalize this program.
- Teachers and school directors will dedicate time to its development.
- Young people will be linked to the solution of a social problem.
- The young people will continue with their initiatives as part of their life project.
The experiment consisted of a call for public and private schools, of which 4 public schools and a private youth care foundation were selected. 81 young people who have participated in the EVOKE program and 6 accompanying teachers from the teams were linked.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
EVOKE displays a different way of reaching to young people. It uses a graphic novel and game mechanisms to link them to the concepts of social value and impact generation. It brings global unresolved issues to an hyper-local environment to find new solutions.
EVOKE connects several actors of the ecosystem with capacity to intervene in the different challenges, thus promoting engagement in participants in social issues and sustainability aspects. In Colombia there is no other program like EVOKE, so the innovation is also related to the experimentation process carried out in the Suba district to adapt a global program to the local context.
Collaborations & Partnerships
Evoke has four partners: 1) the World Bank, who provided the pedagogical content about the 21st century skills and a team of developers for Moodle; 2) Quid Lab, which has led the development of the program and sponsored the incentives for the winners of the program; 3) A handful of public schools have also been essential partners as well as; 4) the local mayor's office of Suba, who has helped with the enrolment of students and inter-institutional management with the schools..
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
In EVOKE, the main beneficiaries are young people between 15 and 18 years old from different public schools in the Suba district. They were chosen because they have actively participated in the program, learning about social innovation, design thinking and 21st century skills. Similarly, the teachers accompanying the student teams have benefited from training in topics related to the program and social innovation.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
The main results so far are the following:
-The call should not be made through the schools, but directly to the students, as it raises the sense of responsibility towards the Program.
-The Program should not seek to establish itself as part of the school curriculum, since the resistance to change and the curricular rigidity established in public policy make mass use difficult.
-Teachers lack the skills to accompany processes of social innovation.
-The daily tasks of teachers have taken their time.
-Students respond to a gamified strategy to connect with social purposes.
-We have identified this results through demi structured interviews with participants and allies.
-In the near future we expect to measure some additional elements about students and their will to continue with their projects and make them a reality after EVOKE.
Challenges and Failures
The main challenges are related to the lack of time of teachers and the students availability to work in the Program. Furthermore, communication with the participants has been one-way, so the information collected comes from only a sample of the participants.
Additionally, we are simultaneously developing this experiment while the schools are busy with other activities, which has reduced the participation of some of them. To counteract this communication gap, two strategies have been established: the first, through the use of gamification, and the second through formal conversations with the partners to gather feedback.
Conditions for Success
-The first thing required is the motivation of young people to participate and complete the program. We learned that by providing incentives more related to the generation of stronger opportunities to create a sustainable life project (for example, through scholarships in universities or support and capital seed for entrepreneurship) we gain from students attainment.
-The second element refers to the importance of maintaining the program with high levels of gamification and that it does not feel like an academic duty.
-The third element suggests that the program should be implemented outside the school environment, with its own business model, without depending on the will of school and local authorities.
The experiment was implemented with a very small audience, in one of the 20 localities of the city of Bogota. If we want to expand to other areas of the capital city we could reach out to more than 500,000 young people between 15 and 18 years old. With an aspiration to cover 1% of the population of a single city in Colombia, the break-even point has already been reached. In addition, the contents are in Spanish, which facilitates their replication in other countries in the region, with small adjustments.
Before escalating the initiative, it is necessary to determine if the validation of the solution was done in the same context. If not, it is worthwhile to set up an experiment to determine which elements work and which do not. Experimentation also involves establishing hypotheses and verification methods.
Finally, innovation processes require patience, because although they may be more agile to learn and make adjustments, there are no processes in which the methodological part should be taken lightly.
- Implementation - making the innovation happen
4 November 2022