SMILE in Newala, Tanzania
Elizabeth Buckner Seeds of Empowerment
Paul Kim Stanford University
• 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
Inquiry Based Learning
• Being told something is not the same as knowing it.
• Teachers lecturing does not necessarily lead to student
• 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
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
• 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
Benefits of SMILE
• Provides a technological platform to promote student-
• Creates highly interactive learning environment
• Engages learners in analyzing their own learning
• Allows students to generate, share, and evaluate
• Facilitates evaluation of peer inquiries
• Encourages team collaboration and competition
Testing SMILE in Newala
From Silicon Valley to Mtwara Region…..
• 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
• 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
Who are the students?
Sample Group: 139 students from Form 1
Age: 14.4, ranging from 12-18
Males: 71 males (51.1%)
Females: 68 females (48.9%)
What we do…
1) Technology Infusion
2) Student Centered Pedagogy
3) SMILE Mobile Application
3) Teacher Technology
The SMILE –Seeds’ Team with School
Principal and participating English teachers.
• Electricity wired in only one
• No laptops
• No desktop computers
• No projector
• No speakers
• 3 Notebook ($350 ea.)
• 2 Local Routers ($70 ea.)
• 25 LG Android mobile phones
($100 ea.) loaded with
SMILE, StoryMaker, ESL
videos, and ~50 educational
• 1 Projector ($380 ea.)
• Internet USB (Airtel. $30 ea.)
• Headphones ($5 ea.)
• PA system ($150 ea.)
Bridging the Digital Divide
We ask students to explore mobile devices.
We do not teach them how to use them
initially. This encourages curiosity and
discovery. Students learn very quickly and
teach each other.
Team Collaboration and Competition
We encouraged small group work and
organized small group collaborations.
We ask students to read stories, write their
own stories, and record their stories on
mobile devices and make questions
regarding the stories using SMILE.
We ask students to write their own
multiple choice questions.
We run small competitions between
peers to evaluate and rate each
others’ questions. This encourages
Inquiry is not a pedagogical
practice encouraged in most
classrooms in Tanzania, but with
some practice, students became
more creative and incorporated
pictures and drawings into their
Using SMILE to ask questions….
Students compose questions in English
and KiSwahili. They type them into the
They solve each others questions.
Inquiry, Collaboration, Competition, Res
ponding, and Reflection
• Student inquiry promotes creativity and
•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
• We ran a series of teacher
training workshops every
• We gave an overview of
computers, email, mobile
• We encourage teachers to
innovate with their use of
How did students and teachers
• Teachers were able to take over running
sessions after observing 3 sessions.
• Students able to grasp the mechanical
aspects of the technology, quickly. It took
about 3 sessions for students to feel
comfortable navigating smart phones.
• Students were able to take photos and
videos and add them into their inquiries.
• Teachers were active in coming up with
their own ideas about how to use the
technology in their classrooms.
• What is the solar
• Who is the
What is science?
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-
• 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
• Teachers are willing and able to take it on; teachers have
innovative and creative ways of using technology
(video, capturing tools)
• 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
• 100,000+ free mobile applications from open
source network, easy to target to local needs
Looking to the Future
The critical elements needed to incorporate SMILE into
• Mobile devices: SMILE is highly effective even with a ratio
of one device per three learners.
• Application localization and development (translation and
• Facilitator workshops to train and empower teachers to
• Monitoring and evaluation.
• SMILE works best when it is a collaborative effort
between Ministry officials, civil society organizations and