Digital Principles in 2019: Year in Review

By Allana Nelson

As the Principles for Digital Development’s community has grown over the past five years, so has the demand for new products, resources, and tools to help digital development practitioners be more effective in their work. As steward, the Digital Principles team at DIAL has worked hard in 2019 to meet those demands, and we want to share with all of you some of the highlights from our year! 

Participants from Spider and Sida meet at Sida HQ in Stockholm, Sweden for the Digital Principles 101 workshop

2019 was a big year for the production of new resources. We partnered with eight endorsing organizations to publish new case studies on how they are putting the Digital Principles into practice, bringing our total number of case studies available to 39.  

The team partnered with TechChange at the end of 2018 to develop a series of new materials aimed to help practitioners better understand how to incorporate the Digital Principles into their work. The first major deliverable was the Digital Principles 101 workshop – a full-day training designed to introduce the Digital Principles and give the opportunity to engage in hands-on exercises to practice their use. In addition to the workshop, we also produced the several new materials which will be available at in the new year!  

Another one of our most exciting achievements of 2019 was welcoming 53 new endorsers to the Digital Principles community, growing our number to 204 organizations1 that seek to embody the Digital Principles in their work culture, policies, and processes. Now spanning over 30 countries and across six continents, the Digital Principles has diverse representation by global communities most impacted by development programming. 

As such, DIAL was excited to participate in numerous events throughout the year to meet the community and introduce the Digital Principles to new audiences, advocate for their adoption and use, and amplify the good work of our endorsing organizations. Just a few of our major highlights include: 

– In March, we traveled to Dar es Salam, Tanzania to participate in the government’s Innovation Week program, with one day dedicated as “Digital Principles Day”! We partnered with Palladium’s Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF) team as they became the first stakeholders to facilitate the Digital Principles 101 workshop on their own. This was the first time the in-person training was facilitated by individuals outside of TechChange and DIAL. 

– April was the third year we participated in the ICT4D Conference. The Digital Principles were addressed in numerous sessions throughout the week in Kampala, Uganda, and our team presented in four sessions alone! We also hosted a free Digital Principles 101 workshop during the training day and were excited to see the diversity of participants who attended. 

– Alongside ICT4D, we held our first in-person meeting of the Digital Principles Advisory Council. Our councilmembers provided guidance on our work and we began to discuss plans for the Digital Principles in the coming five years. 

– Following ICT4D, our team traveled to Berlin, Germany and Stockholm, Sweden where we facilitated three separate offerings of our Digital Principles 101 workshop to GIZ and Sida staff.  

– During the summer, we also held our own Practicing the Principles for Digital Development event in Guatemala City, Guatemala that included an abbreviated version of our 101 training. This was our third field-based event, and the first time we ran it entirely in a non-English language. We were excited to have nearly 100 attendees, ranging from the government, public, and private sector, join us to discuss the use of the Digital Principles in Latin America.  

Practicing the Principles for Digital Development in Guatemala

With the Digital Principles 101 workshop run successfully several times throughout the year and frequent suggestions for deeper dive trainings, we worked with Clear Outcomes and TechChange to undertake a landscape study of digital development trainings across the ecosystem. We engaged over 250 stakeholders through interviews and an online survey, following up this assessment up with four in-person ideation workshops, engaging almost 200 additional stakeholders in Nairobi, Seattle, Washington, and Medellin. This process has culminated some incredible and insightful information on how practitioners access training, topics of interest, and the role DIAL can play in digital literacy in the coming years. Two reports were produced, which we aim to publish at the beginning of 2020. 

Looking forward to 2020, the Digital Principles team is excited to announce that we are undertaking our biggest programmatic year, yet! While we will continue to be dedicated to being responsive to our community of practice and to producing new resources, we will also begin to focus more on ensuring the sustainability of the Digital Principles. Investments in educating the growing digital development community, building on the existing evidence base for good technology use, and ensuring that best practices are internalized from early exposure will be key to our success. 

A few big things you can expect to see from us in 2020 include: 

Digital Principles Director, Allana Nelson, at the ICT4D Conference in Kampala, Uganda

– Publication of a new 5-year strategy and vision for the Digital Principles 

– Survey of Digital Principles endorsers to better understand how the Principles are being put into practice and where gaps in understanding and use may still exist 

– Publication of a new suite of materials we are calling “Principles+” which will address key topics in development through the lens of the Digital Principles  

– New training courses and development of a business planning tool that will allow social good organizations to better plan for work and business model sustainability 

– Launch of a webinar and/or podcast series on trends and important topics in digital development 

– And so much more! We are excited about the year to come, and hope you are, too!  

Happy holidays from all of us on the Digital Principles team!