Improving the Software at a Hello Hub

We worked with edtech expert Creesen Naicker to improve the software on Hello Hubs. We are sharing what we learned from Creesen’s report with the hope that it will be useful to others working with children who are learning online in the Global South.

The Brief:

Provide the most impactful, up-to-date, localised, contextualised and accessible software on the Hello World tablets to ensure that children are learning at and enjoying their Hubs.

The Challenge:

Each community has different needs: language, population characteristics, numbers of out-of-school children, and other specificities within the community.
Our tablets only have a certain amount of storage space. With the apps that we use, which learners should we prioritise: already engaged learners, pre-engaged learners, illiterate adults?
How do we tell which software is useful and which isn’t?

What did Creesen think?

“While technology in education is inundated with options in the English speaking and rich/upper-middle income countries, the appropriate mechanism of intervention and content is relatively unexplored in poorer communities in Africa and Asia. Innovative groups such as Hello World are at the forefront of this exploration, experimentation and rapid prototyping, and this role should not be taken for granted in a world that often prioritizes “proven solutions” and “text book” finality in an educational implementation model.”

What does Creesen recommend and how are we putting that into action?

In Creesen’s opinion, we’re using appropriate software but equally important is implementation management. Here’s the plan:

Our new remote tablet management system ‘Esper’ will be important and valuable.

“A recommendation is not to look for more content, but to gain greater understanding of engagement and impact. In order to do this the MDM (Esper) and connectivity is vital, and can be used to deliver content in batches, moving learners and cohorts forward as they progress through a piece of content.“

Esper will enable us to see which apps are being used in which communities and to push new apps remotely. This will be especially useful as the number of Hubs increases in 2022 and as new and improved apps come to the market.

Reduce the number of apps on the tablets.

“…too much content available at once can get confusing and be distracting for a young, especially preliterate, child…Hello World may need to consider what the initial target audience is and optimise for that group, before splitting its focus to multiple audiences. Essentially focusing on early literacy, transition to a world language, and then having the product offering grow with the learners needs, as they progress.”

We have significantly reduced the number of apps that we are offering on the tablets, keeping only the six best literacy and numeracy apps suited to pre-literate learners. We are now using:

• Khan Academy Kids
• Masha and the Bear
• Youtube Kids
• Feed the Monster
• Chimple
• Play and Learn Science

Apps for this group will have their own section which is easy to find on the Hub tablets. There will be a second section on our tablets directing learners to the Internet. With help and direction from our community support officers, older learners and adults will be able to access the internet to find the information, games, school materials, quizzes, and social media that they need which reduces the need for an over-crowded app interface.

Language

“Children learn to read best in a language they speak fluently, imagine trying to learn to read for the first time without knowing any of the words or even the sounds the letters were supposed to produce. Research has shown that by focusing on mother tongue literacy, children can learn to read much faster and go on to use literacy to help develop other skills, including learning to read in additional languages.”

The six apps that we have chosen for literacy and numeracy are in some of the languages and contextualised to the communities that we work with, in particular Feed the Monster by Curious Learning. We will continue to look for more language-appropriate software. Too-few software providers are contextualising or translating their software and we would encourage many more to do this work so that their software is fully accessible to those who could benefit from it most.

Creesen gave us additional advice about upcoming software for learners with disabilities which we will incorporate when released, national curriculums, assessing impact of the apps and more. If you’d like to read the full report, please click here.

Thank you again to Creesen for your expertise. We are ready to put it into practice in Uganda and Nepal.

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