Innovation That Matters

Cellphone workshops by teenage teachers


While you may never be too old to learn, when it comes to gadgets, you can never be too young to teach. A Dutch initiative is taking advantage of kids’ innate cell phone proficiency by training them as ‘phone coaches’ and getting them to transfer their skills to older users. Bellendoejezo—which roughly translates to “this is how you make a call”—organizes cell phone workshops that cover topics such as using predictive text, creating contact groups, enabling Bluetooth and exploring mobile internet. Not all of the students’ students are equally advanced, though, so sometimes they’ll stick to the basics, like locking a phone’s keyboard, sending a text message and using voicemail. A group of VMBO students (preparatory middle-level vocational education for students aged 12–16) was trained to work as phone coaches. The program’s goal is to improve their social skills and self-esteem, and give them access to corporate environments they might otherwise not be exposed to. Bellendoejezo is aimed at the corporate market, and charges up to EUR 50 per person for 60-minute workshops. Clients so far have included law firms, banks and an energy company. (Related: Teaching people to use their feature-rich phones.) Seems like a relatively easy to launch (non-profit) project that benefits everyone involved. One to copy to other parts of the world? Students with an entrepreneurial bent, meanwhile—those that have already been charging their parents for computer and phone tutorials—will no doubt spot the business opportunity here and start up their own coaching services 😉



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