DW Akademie's digital strategy | #mediadev | DW | 13.06.2016
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DW Akademie's digital strategy

Freedom of expression and information are basic human rights. Our digital strategy Akademie Beta commits to enabling people to freely communicate in the digital realm and skillfully navigate digital transformation.

Deutsche Welle and DW Akademie stand for freedom of expression and access to information. Our fundamental belief is that this right can only be realized when all people are able to freely, independently and confidently communicate online, not just offline. As such, the digital world requires us to rethink freedom of expression.

Information and ideas are spreading in new ways. Communication is becoming more dynamic and increasingly interconnected and interactive. New forms of dialogue and public debate are arising. Knowledge and data flow in networks in real-time, developing a new dynamic in the process. Local is now global and what was hidden is now transparent. Digital transformation is connecting people, stimulating interactions across borders.

At the same time, digital technology is invading our privacy. It's creating new rifts in society and fragmenting the public sphere. Digital transformation offers both promise and peril.

Our goals: To strengthen digital participation and realize freedom of expression!

At DW Akademie, we are committed to ensuring all people can freely and confidently communicate in the digital realm.

Our digital strategy Akademie Beta commits DW Akademie to five strategic objectives in order to realize people's right to freedom of expression in the digital world. Akademie Beta describes how we as an organization will adapt to the digital reality. Both internally and externally, we will equip ourselves today to meet and master the challenges of tomorrow, whatever these may entail.

We will focus on what we do best, and on the needs of our partners and the people in our focus regions. For the next three years, our goals are:

1. Self-determined communication. People in our focus countries can use digital media independently and competently.

People need guidance in the digital world. They need to know how and where to find reliable information and how to communicate safely and freely. Together with our partners, we will develop pioneering approaches to advance digital literacy and ensure that as many people as possible benefit from this. We will place particular emphasis on reaching those people who are not yet active digital citizens.

2. Media landscapes of quality. Our partners look to the future of their digital markets.

Given the many ways of digitally disseminating information of public interest, we need to rethink media. We will strengthen organizations providing reliable, high-quality information services in the digital realm. We will strengthen the capacity of our partners to innovate economically, organizationally and content-wise to ensure their sustainability in digital markets.

3. Visionary education. Universities, institutions and journalism schools train digital media professionals.

Together with our partners, we will develop crossmedia training models that combine theory and practice. We will train media professionals who thrive in the digital world and who are at the forefront of innovation. In particular, we will enable disadvantaged groups to access innovative education.

4. Digital rights. Our partners make a difference in shaping Internet regulations.

Our partners will want to shape the Internet in such a way that freedom of expression and digital participation are enshrined as fundamental values. We will support them in this. The digital world needs rules to ensure people can use the Internet freely and demand their digital rights:

5. Innovative dialogue: People use digital tools and platforms to create new public spheres.

Technology alone can't make the world a better place but it can make a contribution. We, and our partners, will use digital tools, platforms and channels to enable new forms of interactions in the public sphere that emerge from the day to day realities of users.


Our strategic framework: Strengthening human rights together

Our digital strategy is based on Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We are also guided by the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals, the German Federal Government's Digital Agenda and the development policy principles of Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Our strategy also integrates Deutsche Welle's Task Plan and DW Akademie's corporate goals. Together with our partners, we are living and breathing digital transformation and working to make our digital vision a reality.

Our approach: Putting people at the core of what we do

To realize our goals, we need approaches that meet the challenges of the digital world. We don't simply want technological change but social change, too. We want to empower individuals and we will propose digital approaches that benefit people. Empathy will become a core value within our organization. We will ascertain people's needs and ask them about their motivations for using digital technologies.

  • We understand the context: The impact of digital technologies is strongly dependent on local and cultural practices. We will adapt to the existing social, technological and legal contexts.
  • We integrate digital dimensions in our projects in a test and learn process. Projects with a digital focus are never complete but rather need continuous optimization. We will therefore continuously evaluate, test, redesign and improve the way we do things.
  • We work collaboratively and in partnership: Together with our partners, we will always develop our digital projects organically and actively include our target groups in the process.
  • We involve interdisciplinary expertise: Digitization is complex. We can't be experts in every area but we will always integrate the required expertise to achieve our goals.

Our approach is based on the 2015 Principles for Digital Development, which also inform the practice of other development organizations. The principles were the result of discussions among international development practitioners who use digital technologies in their projects. Our digital strategy reflects our commitment to these principles. We will continue to work together with others to shape these principles, in order to improve development cooperation through the use of digital technology.

Our digital expertise: Digital transition as a cross-cutting issue

We will empower our employees to identify new spaces for creative action in the digital world and to assess the risks of these actions. We will treat digital transformation as a cross-cutting issue that cannot be treated separately from other issues. We will evaluate new technological developments in terms of how they affect freedom of expression and access to information.

Our employees will independently ask relevant questions about digital issues. They will recognize what expertise they need and how to find this expertise. They will develop solutions to complex, ever-evolving challenges. They will create digital tools and also evaluate the potential benefits of digital tools for their work.

Our path: Flexibility with clear structures

Digital expertise requires an organizational culture that promotes curiosity, fosters agile teams and understands that constant change is part of digital reality. We don't need to reinvent ourselves to achieve this; rather we can build on the experience and knowledge we have gained in the past years.

It is imperative to utilize and increase valuable input from our employees. In this way, we can initiate the necessary processes to allow us to sustainably, confidently and flexibly operate in the digital world. As such, we will prioritize the following processes:

1. Regional strategies
Individual countries face very specific digital transformation challenges that media development needs to react to. We will therefore develop flexible strategies tailored to individual regions. This process will be user-centered and undertaken collaboratively with our partners. Intensive research informs our knowledge of, and approaches to, digital transformation in our focus countries.

2. Discipline-specific strategies
To successfully implement our five goals, we will expand our portfolio and our technical expertise in a focused manner. We will develop our strategic approaches further. To do this, we will extend our dialogue with other actors and stakeholders. Our media development portal, #mediadev, will continue as a platform for sharing innovations and best-practice examples. We will continue research collaborations and studies to generate new knowledge. At the same time, we will expand our expertise in interdisciplinary project management.

3. Digital methods
We will extend our repertoire of digital tools and innovative methods to clearly target users' needs. We will also develop new digital learning formats. Digital will be integrated as a key cross-cutting issue within our consultancy services.

4. Collaboration and knowledge
Working collaboratively is part of DW Akademie's culture. Together with our partners, we will continuously learn about digital transformation and pass on this knowledge to others. We will use digital tools for project networking. The smooth flow of data and information is crucial to the quality and efficiency of our work—both internally and externally. Relevant knowledge will be readily available and easy to exchange. To do this, we will pool existing platforms and tools.

5. Transparency and openness
We will foster a culture of openness. We will actively make the information we hold publicly available. We will provide information about publicly funded DW Akademie projects in an understandable manner. We will publish data and information in the internationally agreed IATI (International Aid Transparency Initiative) standard. By using standards such as open source, open data and creative commons, we will contribute to the creation of freely accessible knowledge on the Internet.

6. Workflow optimization
We will exploit the potential of digital technologies to make our internal processes as efficient and transparent as possible.

7. Digital security
DW Akademie generates large amounts of digital information, both internally and externally. While this increases efficiency, it also makes us vulnerable to all kinds of digital attacks. We will increase our risk awareness when dealing with digital data and identify which data requires a secure digital environment. Digital security will become an essential part of DW Akademie's safety management. We will always consider the safety of our partners and our target groups and we will ensure they don't become a target for surveillance or other threats because of our work.

Akademie Beta
Our digital strategy is dynamic. Together with our partners, DW Akademie will continue to develop this strategy to actively shape the constantly changing digital world.

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