A Training in Your Pocket: Optimizing Chatapp-based Training to Find Success Online

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Training chatapps

The internet allows youth-serving organizations to deliver training cheaply and at scale, but young people around the world know that these experiences are often just …. horrible.... and that’s putting it nicely. Pre-recorded training can be boring, tedious, and inaccessible. For young people in countries like Ethiopia, they also often require traveling to a computer center and relying on a slow internet connection, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Thankfully, educators and youth practitioners have many training delivery approaches at their disposal, including an Integrated Youth Activity—Kefeta favorite—chatapp-based trainings.

Chatapp-Based Training?

Chatapp-based trainings (CBTs) are self-paced trainings delivered through a chatapp, such as WhatsApp or Telegram. CBTs do not require learners to visit a website or download a new app. Instead, they deliver text, audio, images, and video to learners through an app that they are already using. CBTs also allow learners to “choose their own adventure” and receive a personalized experience – providing different content based on answers to text prompts delivered through the chatapp. Think of a complex decision tree as an example. When developed well, CBTs also provide a level of personalization, gamification, and motivation that encourages learning, self-discovery, and training completion.

Setting the Scene

In some parts of the world, young people have been engaging online for decades, but that is not true everywhere. The global digital divide is vast with over 2+ billion people still lacking access to the internet. That means many young people are still going online for the first time right now. While these young people are smart, passionate, and capable, they are finding their way without internet-savvy mentors and older family members to guide them. The USAID-funded Integrated Youth Activity - Kefeta project team witnesses this societal transition and opportunity to amplify the passions of young people every day. 

Multilingual chatapps
Enter Finding Success Online (FSO)

Recognizing the power of chatapp-based trainings and the reality of Ethiopian youth now spending more time online, the project team led the development of Finding Success Online, a chatapp-based training (CBT), that truly helps young people find professional, and personal, success online. It’s available freely to the public on Telegram, the dominate chat app in Ethiopia, so please go check it out.

The training involves 14 microlearning lessons of ~15 minutes each, and the youth learners can take one or more interactive lessons in any order they wish. Lessons include Your Digital Reputation, Social Media & Your Wellbeing, Communicating Online, Social Media Bubbles, Job Portal Tips and Tricks, Managing Misinformation, Creating Your Own Content, and more.

Main menu image
Embracing youth-centered design with an immersive experience

The FSO design team worked closely with young people during youth-centered design focus groups, so that they could shape the content and features of the final product. Notably, the team used the browser-based, drag-and-drop TextIt software (www.textit.com) that did not require any advanced coding.

Here are a few of the features and design decisions that make the FSO training special as a result:

  • Navigation menus. Even though FSO exists only inside Telegram, learners can move between the main menu, help menu, points menu, and each individual lesson. To help visually communicate this movement, FSO sends a unique Menu image to signal each new section of the training.

  • Get a high score! To further gamify the course, learners earn points with every question answered correctly and every lesson complete. Did you refer to a friend? Learners earn even more points for that.

  • Emojis for days. Outside of the navigation menus and summary cards, FSO intentionally includes very few images to minimize data consumption. Instead, the course leans into its use of emojis to emphasize important points, break up text heavy sections, and bring levity to the course.

  • 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 stars. To gauge the strength of each lesson, every lesson wraps up with a 5-star rating question. At present, the highest rated lessons are “Social Media & Your Wellbeing (2 of 2)” and “Dereja.com - Tips and Tricks” with all 5 stars reviews!

  • Daily nudge reminders. Registered FSO learners receive a unique daily reminder for two weeks after registering. For example: “Hi there, our lessons are like a good cup of coffee - best enjoyed while fresh! Dive into the Main Menu and get your daily dose of learning.”


Graphic chatapp
What youth are saying so far

Since launch, more than 1,367 people have registered for the course. 315 have completed at least six lessons, and youth feedback on the content and training delivery approach has been positive with comments like:

  • Keep going! It was an awesome course. Such kind of projects aimed at equipping basic digital training and literacy skills should be extended to every corner of the country!
  • [The training] is presented in a simple and time-saving manner. It's very cool, easy to use, and it has given me a lot of insight.
  • It is so interesting; I wish there were additional lessons.
  • This training gave me [information on] how to better network with others!

Additionally, a significant number of participants suggested the inclusion of additional courses that specifically cater to the needs and interests of the youth. This feedback underscores the importance of continuously evolving and diversifying the training curriculum to ensure its relevance and effectiveness in empowering young Ethiopians.

Participants of the Kefeta FSO online training also highlighted the importance of expanding the promotion of the course beyond Telegram to social media platforms like Facebook. They emphasized that these platforms attract a significant number of Ethiopian youth and promotions there would reach a wider audience and encourage more youth registrations.


About Integrated Youth Activity (IYA) – Kefeta

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Ethiopia’s Integrated Youth Activity (IYA) – Kefeta is a five-year Activity implemented by Amref Health Africa (Amref) and its consortium partners since August 2021. Kefeta aims to benefit at least two million Ethiopian youths in 18 cities.

About the Authors
Eric Couper is IYF’s Director of Digital Development. Get in touch at [email protected]
Abiy Takele is a Digital Media Officer for Kefeta partner, Amref Health Africa. Get in touch at [email protected]
Britney Wang served in 2023 as IYF’s Chat App Intern.