Why Collaborative Learning is Key to Building Digital Literacy

Every Saturday, a group of students gathers at an English language and resource center in Mandalay, Myanmar to talk about technology. On a recent Saturday night, about 26 people — most of them between the ages of 15 and 25 — clustered around five tablet computers as library user U Wimala led the discussion.

They started with the basics: What is the internet? What is a web address? How do you search the internet? One group of participants searched for the top 100 songs, while another pulled up a site to help practice the French alphabet. Yet another group searched for websites about Myanmar literature.

Hosted at the Intensity Library resource center, the discussion group’s weekly topics range from creating a Facebook page to finding reputable online learning resources. The goal is to share and learn together. U Wimala noted that many of the students who participate have internet access — but they don’t know how to use it.

“If I don’t share my knowledge,” he said, “it is useless.”

Like many libraries throughout Myanmar, Intensity offers services that people cannot typically find elsewhere in their communities.

Library director U Aung Than Htut said, “Using internet at the library is different than at the tea shop. The tea shop is a place of business, but the library is a place of education. Here, people are surrounded by others who can help them.”

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Intensity Library participates in the Beyond Access Myanmar project. Through this project, Beyond Access has partnered with Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation, Ooredoo, and Myanmar’s Ministry of Information to support Myanmar’s libraries so they can serve more people with critical information and services.

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