On May 1, SMEX officially launched its follow-on activities to last year’s series of seminars and workshops that covered Web 2.0 concepts and tools training for applying social media to social change in Lebanon. It’s a particularly auspicious start date, we think, given May Day‘s celebration of workers’ rights and the spirit of linking together, with ribbons around a maypole, for a common cause. Sounds like social media for social change to us.

Our second project, also funded by USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives, builds on last year’s program and maintains a focus on training and consulting for local NGOs wanting to experiment with social media to support their missions. In a change from last year, we will emphasize training trainers this time around in an online/offline course and, in doing so, hope to provide ample opportunity for a diverse network of civic-minded digital advocates and activists to emerge.

The 10-week course will cover the whole gamut of social media, from strategic search to social networks to mashups and content management systems. Participants will be expected to follow weekly modules on various types of social media and to use that same media to interact with each other to discuss the materials. The training will also incorporate four field sessions, where participants will learn the basics of digital photography, audio and video production, and mapping.

By the course’s midpoint, we’ll ask the participants to team up and start giving trainings themselves. At the same time, SMEX will launch a competition for ideas for how to use social media for peacebuilding and youth empowerment. Five ideas (perhaps more) will be chosen for development into full proposals—with coaching from the trainers—that can be submitted for funding from OTI or other donors. Details about the competition will be published later this month and introduced more thoroughly at a series of information sessions held across the country in June.

In addition to implementing the project, SMEX will also be translating key materials into Arabic, as we did last year with digiactive.org‘s Introduction to Facebook Activism. We’ll also be documenting our process and progress on this blog. So check back often, or subscribe to our RSS feed, to stay up to date.

Meanwhile, if you have ideas for materials to translate, or to learn more about the project and how to get involved, please send an email to info [at] smex [dot] org.