madskills185x185What is MADskills?

MADskills is SMEXbeirut’s response to an increasing demand from civil society leaders and new young activists for training on how to use social media strategically to achieve their goals. It is the second edition—you could call it the beta version—of a similar training of trainers program we led in 2009. MAD stands for “media for advocacy and development.”

In April 2011, we put out a call for participants for the 6-month program and received 80 applications. We invited 40 of them to an interview day, where we got to know each other better through icebreakers, exercises, and a short interview.

We were only supposed to accept 20 participants, but because the caliber and commitment of the applicants was high—and because we wanted participants from all over the country and weren’t sure what the attrition rate would be—we accepted 42 people into the program. Participants hail from all regions and confessions in Lebanon and have two things in common: a deep curiosity about social media and a passion for creating change.


MADskills participants on their way to providing social media coverage at the first TEDxBeirut.

As of November 2011, 31 trainees have just about made it through nine learning modules, in English and Arabic, that included online coursework, tweetups, digital storytelling, participation in TEDxBeirut, a tactical advocacy workshop with New Tactics, and a TOT with Aide. Many of the Arabic materials were posted on this blog during Ramadan. The participants are now in the midst of giving their own trainings—on both basic social media strategy and specific social media tools—to civil society organizations around the country.

To celebrate their graduation and their integration into Lebanon’s larger online community, on December 10, the MADskills trainers and SMEXbeirut, in collaboration with several local partners, will host Share the MADness: A Social Media BarCamp for Lebanese Civil Society. A BarCamp is an openly organized, peer-to-peer learning conference where participants propose, vote on, and give the day’s sessions. They’re usually related to new technologies, and they also make excellent networking opportunities, because they’re informal and fun. Confirmed “Share the MADness” partners include: AltCity, Annahar, E-Mediat, Girl Geek Camp, IndyAct, Naharnet, SKeyes, and YASA. If you would like to get involved, please visit the website, create an account, propose a session, and/or volunteer to help with logistics.

After graduation, MADskills trainers will be qualified to deliver basic to intermediate social media training and consulting. They will continue to be supported through their own peer network and also by SMEXbeirut.

Soon, we’ll publish MADskills trainer biographies to help promote the individual trainers and their areas of expertise. We hope that this will open opportunities for both the graduates and local civil society organizations seeking to use social media to advance their missions and campaigns.

In the meantime, please visit the new MADskills Facebook Page, where we encourage you to engage with the network and ask questions about using social media for social change in Lebanon, and the MADskills program.

The MADskills program was generously funded by the American people. It was expertly implemented by people from Chiyah, Hermel, Qas-Qas, Sin el Fil, Hadath, Mar Elias, Memphis, and Morristown.

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