Webinar Recording: E-learning on WhatsApp – A collaboration between Grassroot and MIT in South Africa

This webinar discussed lessons learned from a novel online course using WhatsApp that teaches leadership and organizing skills to community organizers. WhatsApp, as an e-learning platform, offers the possibility of reimagining social media platforms as a new avenue for advancing civic pedagogy and networking for long-term social movement building. Though additional iterations are required, initial results suggest that the WhatsApp course was able to connect grassroots organizers in a novel way that encourages learning and information exchange.

This took place on June 26, 2020. 

Grassroot, a civic technology organization based in South Africa, launched a first-of-its-kind leadership development course over the messaging platform WhatsApp. The distance-learning course, Leadership through Storytelling, was designed to build the capacity of organizers for sustained community activism. In 2019, Grassroot piloted the course and collaborated with the MIT Governance Lab to conduct mixed-methods research on the effectiveness of the course content and its potential to advance long-term community organizing goals.


Luke Jordan is the Founder and Executive Director at Grassroot. Formerly at McKinsey in Johannesburg and Shanghai, the World Bank in New Delhi and advisor to municipal and national government in South Africa.

Katlego Mohlabane is a Community Builder at Grassroot and Facilitator for the WhatsApp course and is a self-taught digital marketer, graphic designer, and social activist. Katlego is a former Gauteng working group member within the Right 2 Know campaign.

Alisa Zomer is the Assistant Director at the MIT Governance Lab. Formerly, conducted policy research on environmental governance, international development, and justice and equity at Yale University and the World Resources Institute.