SMILE in Newala, TanzaniaElizabeth Buckner Stanford University
Our Mission• We aim to bring mobile technology to students in rural Tanzania to increase learning, reduce the achievement gap and bridge the digital divide.• But, we have learned that hardware alone is not enough.• We couple mobile technology with innovative pedagogical practices to improve the learning environment as well as students’ engagement and achievement.
Inquiry Based Learning• Being told something is not the same as knowing it.• Teachers lecturing does not necessarily lead to student learning.• Memorization is not an education – you cannot memorize the information you need in life.• Creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking are the most important skills we can develop among children.• Children learn best by doing – by asking and answering questions they engage with their own learning, and begin to teach themselves.
The SMILE Project• SMILE is an assessment tool and inquiry maker which allows students to quickly create own inquiries based on their own ideas, curriculum and curiosity.• SMILE runs as an application on smart phones.• Two versions of SMILE (SMILE ad-hoc and SMILE Global). • SMILE ad-hoc can be set up to run on mobile phones in physical classrooms (off line). • SMILE Global uses the Internet to connect to other students’ globally.
Benefits of SMILE• Provides a technological platform to promote student- centered learning• Creates highly interactive learning environment• Engages learners in analyzing their own learning• Allows students to generate, share, and evaluate multimedia-rich inquiries• Facilitates evaluation of peer inquiries• Encourages team collaboration and competition
Testing SMILE in Newala From Silicon Valley to Mtwara Region…..
SMILE-Tanzania• One pilot school in Newala District, which is one of the poorest and least resourced regions in country.• As part of the Seeds’-Stanford SMILE project, we provide notebook computers, one projector, and 25 smart mobile phones to the school.• We worked with the school and teachers to run a 10-day workshop that introduces devices and student-centered pedagogical practices.• Project carried out in partnership with Jiamini, a local NGO.
Nangwanda Secondary School• Nangwanda Secondary School serves ~600 students, in Form 1-6.• 73% of Form 4 students fail, of those who pass, all receive Division IV. (35 pass, 94 fail).• School ranked 2774/3108 in Tanzania.• Nangwanda Secondary is representative of many of the issues teachers and students face in Tanzania.
Who are the students?Sample Group: 139 students from Form 1Age: 14.4, ranging from 12-18Males: 71 males (51.1%)Females: 68 females (48.9%)
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What we do…1) Technology Infusion2) Student Centered Pedagogy3) SMILE Mobile Application3) Teacher Technology Trainings4) Follow-Up The SMILE –Seeds’ Team with School Principal and participating English teachers.
Technology Infusion…Before After • Electricity wired in only one • 3 Notebook ($350 ea.) classroom • 2 Local Routers ($70 ea.) • No laptops • 25 LG Android mobile • No desktop computers phones loaded with ~50 educational applications • No projector ($100 ea.) • No speakers • 1 Projector ($340 ea.) • Internet USB (Airtel) • Headphones ($5 ea.) • PA system ($150 ea.) Bridging the Digital Divide
Student Centered PedagogiesEncouraging CreativityWe ask students to read stories and write theirown stories.Mobile ExplorationWe ask students to explore mobile devices. Wedo not teach them how to use them initially.This encourages curiosity and discovery.Team Collaboration and CompetitionWe encouraged small group work andorganized small group collaborations.
Student Centered PedagogiesEncouraging Question-MakingWe ask students to write their ownmultiple choice questions.We run small competitions betweenpeers to evaluate and rate eachothers’ questions. This encouragesself-reflection.Inquiry is not a pedagogical practiceencouraged in most classrooms inTanzania, but with some practice,students became more creative andincorporated pictures and drawingsinto their questions.
Using SMILE to ask questions…. Students compose questions in English and KiSwahili. They type them into the program. They solve each others questions.
SMILE: Inquiry, Collaboration,Competition, Responding, and Reflection • Student inquiry promotes creativity and thinking. • Collaboration encourages teamwork and sharing of ideas during the inquiry process. • Competition in small groups encourages students to do their best in group activities. • Responding to student generated questions encourages students to review material, and pushes their thinking. • Evaluating quality of all questions encourages reflection of what makes a good question.
Teacher Training• We ran a series of teacher training workshops every afternoon.• We gave an overview of laptop computers, email, mobile devices, SMILE applications.• We encourage teachers to innovate with their use of technological resources.
How did students and teachers respond?• Teachers were able to take over runningsessions after observing 3 sessions.• Students able to grasp the mechanicalaspects of the technology, quickly. It tookabout 3 sessions for students to feelcomfortable navigating smart phones.• Students were able to take photos andvideos and add them into their inquiries.• Teachers were active in coming up withtheir own ideas about how to use thetechnology in their classrooms.
Sample Student Questions• What is the solar system?• Who is the President of America?
Sample Student QuestionsQuestion: What is science?Teacher: Leads discussion on whether this is a good question, asks: is it properly written in English, is it creative?
Follow – Up• Teachers and Principal have agreed to carry out a SMILE workshop at least once a week for the next six months, in different classrooms.• Stanford will monitor how technology is being used and how student inquiry improves over time.• Stanford provides regular email support and support with any troubleshooting of technology• One follow-up visit to Tanzania is planned in 6- months.
Takeaways• SMILE is simple enough to work in under-resourced areas.• Relatively rapid deployment, even when students have never touched smart phones.• Replicable and scalable• SMILE facilitates a paradigm shift by combining technology and pedagogy.• Teachers are willing and able to take it on; teachers have innovative and creative ways of using technology (video, capturing tools)
Takeaways• Mobile phones are relatively easy to maintain; durable in areas with fewer resources.• Mobile phones are less susceptible to electrical failure and environmental challenges.• Relatively cost-effective, when compared to computer labs.• 100,000+ free mobile applications from open source network, easy to target to local needs
Looking to the FutureThe critical elements needed to incorporate SMILE into schools: • Mobile devices: SMILE is highly effective even with a ratio of one device per three learners. • Application localization and development (translation and development). • Facilitator workshops to train and empower teachers to use technology. • Monitoring and evaluation. • SMILE works best when it is a collaborative effort between Ministry officials, civil society organizations and universities.