• About Bits Academy and the Bits schools

    The Bits Academy is the online learning environment that is used by the Bits schools. It is the virtual place where students work on their projects, see their progress in the courses, share their learning experiences, assess themselves through exercises and build up a portfolio to showcase their talents. These students are in one of the Bits schools, which are physical schools. At this moment there are 4 Bits schools located in East Africa, and two others are at the time of writing in their set-up phase. More information about the Bits schools can be found here. In addition, Bits Academy showcases the works of students and provides information about the courses to those who are not part of one of the Bits schools.
    Each Bits school is a separate entity. Local professionals run the schools and the trainers are in most cases graduates of the schools.
    All Bits schools are collectively involved in the set-up and maintenance of Bits Academy, as well as Butterfly Works, an Amsterdam-based co-creation studio. Butterfly Works founded the first Bits school in Nairobi in 1999 from where the other Bits schools grew as a family. Butterfly Works is also the co-creator of Bits Academy, together with all Bits schools.
    Bits Academy is created to support the learning experience of the Bits students and trainers that take part in classes at the Bits schools. It complements the classes and activities at the Bits schools, guided by a professional Bits trainer.  If you are not part of a Bits school, it is not possible to log into the Bits Academy website and to do an online course.
    Students are selected through partner organisations of the Bits schools who work directly with the targeted youth in the area. These young adults are mostly between the age of 17 and 25, live in informal settlements and have limited opportunities of making their way up in professional domains. The community-based organisations select potential students based on the contribution to their community and their motivation for working in design, ICT and/or multimedia. These potential students are then presented to the Bits school when then make the final selection. When a student is selected, he or she starts in course 1. Based on the amount of places available and the progress of the student in the course, he or she is selected to take part in the following course.
    The contact details of each Bits school can be found on the contact page of this website. Please click here.
    If you would like to see the learning environment of the Bits students, please contact one of the Bits schools directly. Their contact details can be found here.
    If the student mentioned contact details or a portfolio website in the description of the student work, you can contact the student or graduate directly. If these are not mentioned, please contact the Bits school in order to get hold of the contact details. The contact details of the Bits schools can be found here.
    After finishing each of the three courses successfully, the student is invited at the graduation ceremony where he or she is rewarded with a certificate. Although the curricula of most Bits schools are not formally accredited by the Ministry of Education (yet), the family of Bits graduates is growing and companies and organisations are increasingly acknowledging the talents and skills of those who have finished one or more courses. Also, in order to ensure that the curriculum is based on and in line with the needs of the current market, the schools also closely cooperate with partnering companies and the private sector.
    Most Bits schools have a hybrid business and funding model, although most income streams come from (international) donors and funding programmes. These funding flows are essential for keeping the Bits schools up and running, but they are not endless. The schools are thus continuously looking for funding opportunities and could definitely use a helping hand. Are you good at linking (one of) the schools with donor institutions or could your organisation play a role in the funding needs, please contact one of the Bits schools or Butterfly Works through our contact page.
  • About the courses

    Bits Academy is made up of three courses; Getting Connected, Digital Garage and Media Lab. These courses are being taught at the Bits schools and are about a myriad of subjects. The core of these courses teach students creative skills, digital tools, entrepreneurial skills and social skills. In more concrete terms, the content of the courses is concentrated on web design, graphic design, web development, production of (audio-)visuals, text editing, combined with courses in entrepreneurship and social skills, such as work ethics, critical thinking and multitasking skills. Each Bits school decides what domain and skills are stressed as it depends heavily on the market needs and job opportunities at the specific location. All courses are being taught by professional trainers who have come from the same settings as the youths that come in. These trainers apply the methods of experiential learning, giving room to students to explore and experience the (digital) tools that are being reached out to them during the classes and on the Bits Academy platform. During all three courses, students are encouraged to act as explorers in the world of digital media. This is done through the concept of experiential learning: students are first introduced to a certain theory or computer programme. By doing exercises and bny incorporating this knowledge into their personal- or group projects, they learn by doing and acquire a set of skills and stays with them for a lifetime. Another important aspect of the courses is that youths are trained to become role models in their communities. They are seen as agents of change who give back to their communities through what they have learned at the Bits schools.
    Yes, the three courses are consecutive, meaning that only students who have finished Getting Connected are eligible for participation in Digital Garage and those who have finished Digital Garage can go to Media Lab.
    No, not every student who joins a Bits school in the first course Getting Connected makes it all the way through the third course Media Lab. The second course is more intense than the first and the third is more intense than the second. So as the intensity of the courses increase, the Bits schools simply cannot accommodate and facilitate the amount of students. Also to stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit and make students get a feel for the competitive market they will be working in, not every student gets selected to take part in the following course. Only the best continue, so to speak. Because of the possibilities of not going through all three courses, the curriculum of every course makes sure that students are equipped with adequate practical skills to enter the job market, even after having only finished the first course Getting Connected.
    The curriculum of every Bits school is shaped towards the needs and opportunities of the media and ICT market in place. This is done in order to increase the job prosperity after having finished the first course. In addition, the student will work on his or her own project in the field that he or she wants to delve into. But in general terms, students who have finished the first course successfully have basic computer skills (text editing, spread sheets, etc.) and know how to use the Internet. Also they have basic design skills and have an understanding of how to start a business on their own. 
    More information on the content of Getting Connected can be found here.
    In general, after having finished Digital Garage successfully, students are able to design and program websites on their own, work with a variety of computer programmes in the spheres of multimedia and design, produce (audio)visual materials, can programme software, etc. In addition, they know what their strengths are and where their interests lay. These are put into practise by doing a client assignment at the end of the course in order to get accustomed to working for an employer. 
    Again, the content of the Digital Garage heavily depends on what Bits school the student took the course at, on the job market of the location and on what specialization he or she chose. These specializations can be web design, programming, video production, graphic design, etc.
    More information on the content of Digital Garage can be found here.
    In general, after having finished the Media Lab successfully, students are full design- and multimedia professionals who are seen as pioneers in the digital world and specifically within their chosen specialization. In addition, the internship that takes up most of their time and talents during this course is a perfect preparation as a professional in the job market.
    More information on the content of Media Lab can be found here.
    The length of the courses depend on the specific Bits school and the specializations they provide to students. On average, the first course Getting Connected takes up six weeks, the second course Digital Garage consists of two to three months and the third course Media Lab takes up about six months of which half of the time is filled with an internship. So if a student goes through all three courses, he or she will spend a full school year in one of the Bits schools, although they are trained in becoming life-long learners.
    Please contact one of the Bits schools or Butterfly Works whose contact details are to be found on the contact page.
    Yes, this is possible. We are always interested in speakers who can empower our students through stories of passion and success. For years, the Bits schools have gratefully been making use of volunteers with know-how of specific subjects. They present to students the wide spectrum of job possibilities after graduation and make sure the content of the Bits curriculum keeps up with current market trends. 
    Please let us know what and how you would like to contribute by sending us an email and we’ll see how best to make use of your knowledge and enthusiasm.
  • Internships and job positions

    All Bitses closely work together with various companies. The second course includes a client assignment and the third course has incorporated a three-month internship in one of these companies. The Bits school itself arranges these client assignments and internship placements for all students in that course. Often these internships turn into job offers where the graduate can start immediately after graduation.
    Also, due to the strong focus on the development of entrepreneurial skills, many other students start up their own business or form a entrepreneurial entity together.
    Over the past years, Bits students have been working in many different fields of multimedia and digital design, within a wide variety of companies and organisations. If you would like to employ a Bits student or you have an internship opportunity that could be well-suited for a Bits student, please contact the nearest Bits school. The staff will then look for the perfect match. In addition, contact details and/or portfolio websites of those students who have displayed their work on Bits Academy can be contacted directly through the contact details provided.
    Bits schools usually only hire training staff who have successfully finished all courses at a Bits school. Please contact the specific Bits school to check possibilities.
    Yes, this may be possible. Please contact Butterfly Works to identify possibilities.
  • Log in

    Only students who are registered at a Bits school are able to sign in on Bits Academy. As a student you will have your log-in details created for you by one of the staff member of your school. If these are not provided to you (yet), please ask one of the trainers.
    The reason for not being able to log in on Bits Academy is that perhaps your profile has not been created yet by one of the staff members. Another reason is that perhaps you have misspelled your name or password. Please note that these login writings are caps-sensitive: your first and last name are written with a capital letter and perhaps your password also consists of capital letters. Lastly, if you are a graduate of a Bits school, perhaps your account has been deleted. This only happens with notification by email prior to deleting your profile.
    For any problems with logging in, please contact the person responsible within your Bits school.
    You can request your password by clicking on the button “Forgot your password’ on the login screen at Bits Academy. The password will be sent to your email address. Alternatively you can also direct to a staff member of your Bits school.
    You can change your password after you have logged in on Bits Academy. These settings are under your profile under the button ‘profile settings’.
    After an X amount of time, your profile will be deleted from Bits Academy. Make sure to save all documents that you have uploaded on another location. Contact your Bits school staff to ask how long your profile will stay active.
    You can add or change a project on the website of Bits Academy by logging in and then go to the specific project that has been published. All information that is displayed on the website is changeable, apart from your name, your specialization and the course in which the project has been made.