User Statistics, 2012 Review

In October of last year we did a blog post about the demographics of people that use iLab. Since then, we have tallied up our users and now we have the stats on who has used iLab up until December 2012. There are lots of changes that have taken place in the new stats of our users.

Female participants – the minority

The number of female participants is very low as usual. During this period, 19% of the total participants were female and the remaining 81% male. This low figure reflects a common Liberian perception that the ICT sector is best suited for men. At a recent girls-only iLab event, a participant noted that she was discouraged from entering the ICT field by various people because it would too much math and coding.  To help create more gender equality, iLab now has a customized ICT-Girls Mastering the Internet course which is exclusively for women and high-school aged girls. We believe this course will serve as a stepping stone to encourage Liberian women to learn about the Internet and its many components as they gain more exposure to the opportunities before them in the field of ICT.

Intermediate and advanced courses get a boost

We also now have a lot of Intermediate and advanced trainings, unlike before. When iLab was first launched, we started with basic courses like Intro FOSS, Intro Mastering the Internet, Intro Website design, etc. But as the months went by, the participants who took these courses kept coming to iLab and wanting more. Because of this demand, we now have intermediate and advanced level courses that were previously only offered at the intro level. For example, 46% of people who took Intro FOSS have come back to iLab to take the Intermediate FOSS. We might have even offered the Intermediate FOSS to a larger of number students , if iLab were able to admit all participants who take the pre-test for the Intermediate. We often turn down a lot of interested participants because our two labs only hold 15 participants for a course. Thus, we are not able to hold as many people in the intermediate FOSS course as want to attend. The Intermediate FOSS course is offered in one of the labs approximately every two months.

TED talk – our most popular event

From the inception of iLab until now, we have always referred to Intro FOSS as iLab’s most popular course, and it sure is. No other course at iLab has drawn more interest and produced a high number of participants like the Intro FOSS course. However, it’s now time to also recognize our most popular public event – TED talk night. From the testimonies we have received, many see it as being more interesting, inspirational and overall very educational.

Demographics and Usage – Sep 2012

Back in February I did a blog post about the demographics of the people that use iLab. Since then we have tallied up our users and now have the stats on who has used iLab up until September 2012.  Here’s what we have found about all the users iLab has had from May 2011 to September 2012 and the new users since February 2012. Before we get into the data, let me give a short disclaimer: We did our best to collect this data as accurately as possible, but as with any attempt to gather statistics, there may still be errors or omissions, so please keep that in mind. Though this data represents “what” is happening we cannot with any certainty say “why” these things happen. There are too many variables to account for. Thus any attempt to explain why the numbers are what they are is based on the best information we have and obvious correlations. Lastly, as someone who works for iLab, my analysis about why is probably going to be biased towards the positive. We welcome comments about this data and my interpretation.

By far the most striking thing about this new set of data is that not much has changed, except the number of people we have served. As of February 2012 iLab had served 335 people, as of September 2012 we have served 771 people. That’s a 130% increase in 7 months. In comparison it took us 10 months to reach 335 people. Part of this could be attributed to our new lab space that allows us to serve twice as many users at the same time. This could also be because more people have learned about iLab and what we offer.

Who uses iLab

As before, by far, most iLabbers identify themselves as students. Keep in mind that on the form we use to capture what kind of user someone is, they can select more than one choice, so someone could put themselves down as both a student and a entrepreneur. The biggest change in the user front is that IT Professionals has become the clear 2nd category of our users. Previously IT professionals, entrepreneurs, and other were all very close, but now IT professionals has clearly pulled away as the second most popular category for our users to identify themselves by.  Perhaps this could be because the IT industry is expanding and more of our users now fall into this roll. On the other hand, this could happen because people from other sectors do not see iLab as a place that benefits their interests.

What events people attend

As before, our top event is still TED Talks, but now our second most popular event is Movie Night. Before it was Mapping Parties. This is to be expected as both these events recur frequently and require no technical abilities. Mapping Parties are our 3rd most popular event. Mastering the Internet, a course on how to navigate the online world, is quickly catching up as the 4th most popular event. Intro to Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) rounds out the top 5. Part of the reasons these courses are so popular is that they are offered frequently, but this is in response to demand. Overall it could be said that this shows that majority of demand is targeted around introductory classes and events with a low technical barrier to entry. One big change between May 2011 – Feb 2012 and Feb 2012 – Sep 2012 is the variety of events we offer. We have gone from 10 to 21.

Looking at our events that repeat, Mapping Parties, TED Talks, and Movie Night, we see that TED Talks are far more popular now, than they were between May 2011 – Feb 2012. This can be seen both in terms of the total number of people who have attended at least one TED Talk and the number of people who attended multiple TED Talks. Mapping Parties now finish 3rd with Movie Night taking 2nd place. However, more users repeatedly attending Mapping Parties than Movie Nights. Though given how new Movie Nights are compared to Mapping Parties, this may also change soon.


Last, but certainly not least, we look at gender at iLab Liberia. While there is still a large discrepancy, 20% / 80%, we have improved by 3% from 17% / 83%. We believe that part of this is due to our efforts to reach out to groups that work with women and girls to bring them to iLab. For exampled our work with the group ICT for Girls (ICT4G). iLab will continue to work to lower this gap and engage more women.

Raw Data

The raw data in Excel format for those of you who prefer to crunch your own numbers.

Again, we welcome comments and critiques of this data and its analysis.




Demographics and Usage – Feb 2012

iLab recently evaluated their usage records from May 2011 to February 2012 to see who is using iLab and what parts of iLab they are using. Here is what we found:

Who uses iLab

By far the majority of iLab users consider themselves students. Since a user can select more than one way of describing themselves it’s possible that many of our users are students while they are also employed. Also, the Liberian education system is notoriously slow and students often have large gaps in their class schedule, so it’s possible that not everyone who considers themselves a student is actively taking class, but in the process of completing an education program. Entrepreneurs and IT professionals round out the top 3 places. Interestingly the least number of users are government and NGO staff. This may appear surprising since these two sectors are the largest sources of formal employment. However, unemployment and informal employment in Liberia are known to be quite high. To encourage those who are formally employed to come to iLab we hold a lot of our events after hours.

What events are people attending

When it comes to iLab events the mapping parties and TED talks are the clear leader. This is most likely because these are our longest running and most frequently offered events. Google technology events and our introduction to Free Open Source Software (FOSS) events are also quite popular. It should be noted that this graph represents the number of individuals that have attended 1 or more of the given events. If we were to count the number of repeat users TED talks and Mapping parties would be much higher. The graph on the left shows the number of users who have attended 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 or more events. This shows that mapping parties draw more repeats users. When looking at the numbers we do see that TED talks draw more first time users.  As we continue to offer events we hope to better capture the number of new and repeat users for all of our events.


Finally we end with a look at gender. Out of 335 users 278 (83%) were male and 57 (17%) were female. Quite a large discrepancy. We certainly do our best to encourage participation of both genders, but it seems, as is often the case around the world, participation by the fairer sex is lacking in the technology sector. iLab is currently talking with an organization about creating a curriculum specifically to target young ladies. We’re excited about this opportunity and hope it comes to fruition.

Raw Data

For those of you who want raw data to play with, like all good computer scientist would, please see this Excel File.