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Alquimétricos LAB - Grant Report #2

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Project Update

Hello again! It’s amazing to look back and see a whole year of evolution for us, and how the GFTW initiative helped us to make our project grow.

For those who don’t know us yet, we are an open and collaborative community of educators, designers, artists, and innovators focused on making STEAM education available and affordable to low-income communities. Alquimétricos develop Open Educational Resources (OERs) in the form of building-blocks systems and educational content based upon that tech. So learning about tech, science and arts can be fun, affordable, and sustainable.

The GFTW program enabled the development of the Alquimétricos LAB digital platform (https://lab.alquimetricos.cc/) and the launch of a STEAM Educators Social Call for teachers working in vulnerable communities along Brazil.

Progress on objectives

  • As we mentioned, our complete platform is now online filled with free and paid content.
  • The STEAM Educators Social Call was also carried out. 50 educators from all the regions of Brazil were selected and received free access to the platform and Alquimétricos training via Coil accounts.
  • The site concept and content development workflow were designed from scratch to match the WM concept, tech, and possibilities

Key activities

As we had not yet carried out such a large project, our main activity was to consolidate the work team. In total, we had 14 people contributing to the following activities: design, research, planning and management, marketing and communication, territorial partnerships, administrative and financial management, and social networks, web development and WM integration, elaboration of pedagogical content and video shooting and tutorials for the platform. In addition, it was necessary to implement a legal architecture for the platform, with terms of use and legal monitoring, a code of conduct, and privacy policy (https://lab.alquimetricos.cc/transparencia/).

Communications and marketing

Esse setor, de fato, foi fundamental, pois foi responsável pela criação e promoção dos conteúdos das redes sociais do projeto, pela segmentação de tráfego pago e avaliação de métricas, bem como por campanhas que incluíram email marketing e diferentes canais de mídia do Alquimétricos.

Some numbers on that:

  • 5.5k visitors accessed the platform (Portuguese+Spanish version)
  • 74 users registered users
  • 8.8k people were contacted via e-mail
  • 285k IG users reached via 458k printed ads

What’s next?

In Brazil:
Even with the team reduced due to the end of the project's resources, we continue to look for new opportunities. In addition to the work with sending the physical kits we produced, we continue in contact with partnerships such as the 6th CRE - Regional of the Municipal Department of Education of Rio de Janeiro. We are also evaluating the best way to formalize Alquimétricos NGO.

In Argentine:
Our platform was translated into Spanish, with the support of the Gestionar Futuro funding, from the Ministry of Culture there. This gave us other opportunities and activities, which we will continue to develop, such as territorial partnerships and the recognition from the Ministery of Culture as a social digital startup aligned with their objectives.

What community support would benefit your project?

We didn’t achieve (yet) any partnership but our platform is WM-native, so we expect to keep working on alliances with compatible initiatives such as Cinnamon.

We hope new opportunities arise when local payment options and Portuguese support were available when the new GFTW financial services call develops.

Tech deployment

One of the suggested methods to implement Web Monetization in WordPress is to use the official Coil plugin. However, this approach raises certain difficulties in the context of the Alquimétricos LAB project, due to the different types of users that are targeted. On the one hand, it is necessary to generate different permissions for roles such as teacher and student, among others. On the other hand, some users access the contents through grants or development programs that allow them to access different content. In some cases, it is complex to offer accounts and creditto the beneficiaries of these programs. e find it necessary to articulate Web Monetization with some scheme of users with different degrees of access generated through the WordPress log in. As a solution, we chose to use the Web Monetization javascript API to receive payments from users who are not registered on our platform, which intends to access contents that are not available for the type of user with the one they are registered.

Engineering Alquimétricos LAB usage model to fit WM tech was easy and straight-through. The choice of WordPress as a platform to build upon simplified deployment a lot. The actual challenge was never technical, but commercial: A Brazil-based platform, targeted at vulnerable communities’ educators, running on international-credit-card-USD-dependant-payments, that was the real deal.

Background

Before presenting data and a conclusion about the experience of WM usage through the Alquiometrics Lab platform, we bring a quick overview of the subscription market in Brazil, based on behavior and consumption research.

This segment, which has already grown in the country, reached its peak during the covid-19 pandemic, in 2020. In the same year, a total of “13 million Brazilians made their first purchase on the internet”

Currently, the most accepted type of subscription in the country is streaming services (such as Netflix and Spotify), used by 53% of the public accessing paid content. Next, the most popular services are enrollment clubs – which carry out regular delivery of products at home (24%), portals/sites (22%), magazines (20%), journals (15%), and digital newsletters (15%). )”.

Thus, 95.6% of the services paid monthly by users are for films, series, and videos; 82.9% are intended for the consumption of music, and 61.8% are in the education category - in which our service fits.

Another relevant data concerns the main reason why these subscriptions are canceled: 68% of the people interviewed in the survey said it was the price.

Some of this data may already be indicative of the results that we had from the experience of the Alquimétricos LAB - even on a small scale - about subscriptions to digital services. As in Brazil, the WM niche is not yet as widespread as the other digital sectors, and a reliable approach for comparative purposes is compromised. Even so, we think it is important to highlight some aspects of this market in the country.

In general terms, the subscription model is showing quite good acceptance in the local market, mainly when the user and buyer are the same personand the perceived value is direct and immediate. Making that work for philanthropy or purpose-driven projects is a completely different deal and selling it through an innovative model such as WM does certainly not sweeten the pill. Add the USD-centry payment ingredient and you will certainly make Brazilian marketers cry.

Most Brazilian users like to get things in their language and to pay for them in Reals (BRL). Attaching a new service to a new payment system in a foreign language and currency may penalize the actual productsuccess just because the purchase barriers make it too odd or complex, or simply inviable.

To solve this we divided the research exercise into halves: we prepared a tech+platform+content test on one hand, and the subscription sale on the other. The first one is based upon a subsidized premium account call focused on the platform’s main target: educators from Brazilian vulnerable communities. The second one is quite an analog workaround: we charge the audience in BRL and bridging it analogy via a local currency payment gateway.

Results

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On March 10, 2022, we launched the Alquimetrics LAB platform in its official format and the Social Call for Training in STEAM Education for teachers working in communities.

Enrollment was open from March 10th to March 31st and Teacher Training will take place from April 25th to July 25th, 2022
On September 10, 2021, we held the launch webinar for the alpha version of the platform.

In summary, 39 dollars were generated through the Coil for almost 60 thousand dollars of investment. One thousand dollars of investment provided by GFTW for 1 dollar raised.

Users WM experience after-math

50 teachers were granted with access Half of them didn’t reach the 4th (out of 12) virtual encounters and only 8 made it to the end. We did our best to transfer the WM concept to the group and help them to adopt it. It wasn’t easy for everybody to ask for help and we know some of them dropped the course because it was “difficult to access beyond the content”. Certainly our UX has to be revised too.

Among the Social Call 135 responses, nobody actually new what WM was or how micropayment worked.

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At first sight, we knew our test population was not into WM. When re-asked, nobody actually knew what WM, Coil, GFTW, or any other micropayment system are, or how they work.

7 people answered the post-course poll, which resonates with most of the direct feedback we usually recieved.

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Most of the users had problems installing the Coil Plugin. When asked, the language barrier and the poor understanding of the actual need to install something at all appear as the leading cause and not an actual bug in the system. Our platform registering process was also reviewed to reduce the initial platform acceptance barrier.

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Most users ended up understanding that they had additional (and valuable)information they could access because they used the plugin, but not all of them.

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After a 3 months course, the test group mostly agrees that full access to the platform worth at least USD 2.5.

Conclussions

All teachers who had access to Alquimétricos LAB did not know the concept of Web Monetization and had difficulty installing the Coil plugin. The foreign language and the credit card additional tax (IOF) on international purchases also seemed to be an impediment. Therefore, we conclude that much more research, time and marketing + education investment is needed to direct attention onto this new way of monetizing content creators.

Main challenges to solve in Brazil:

  • Foreign language
  • Low-income target audience oxymoron
  • Unknown concept
  • Most people consume mainstream subscriptions like Spotify or Netflix
  • IOF-tax purchases in dollars with credit card

Additional comments

We appreciate the opportunity given by GFTW. We certainly grew a lot personally and professionally carrying out this project, which was so important for Alquimétricos and the team! We learned a lot about WM, but mostly about ourselves. We hope to keep in touch with you through the WM community and our platform. Sign up and follow the news there! :)
See you soon!

Discussion (2)

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chrislarry profile image
Chris Lawrence

I would encourage the team to keep up to date with ILF's work in open payments, WM and financial inclusion. While you may have been ahead of your audience we are working on how our tech might help solve some of the issues you cite in this report.

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alquimetricos_50 profile image
Alquimetricos - ecotechnological toys #OER Author

Thank you for your orientations. We certainly want to keep WM as a core part of our project strategy!