For the past two years the MRP Foundation’s TechEd project has worked closely with local and global partners to create a fun and engaging technology-based learning environment for schools in rural KwaZulu-Natal. And the results from ongoing research look promising!
For the past two years the MRP Foundation's TechEd project has worked closely with local and global partners to create a fun and engaging technology-based learning environment for schools in rural KwaZulu-Natal

Learners at Zilungisele Primary diligently work on the Xander educational app (on Breteau Foundation iPads) while their educator & MRP Foundation facilitator assist. Xander apps is the first South African app developer to feature in TechEd & adds an exciting new element to the programme- apps that are delivered in learners home language of Zulu. Photo: MRP FOUNDATION / PIERRE TOSTEE

 

Started in 2014, in one of the MRP Foundation Schools, the innovative pilot project is committed to finding robust and scalable education solutions that assist teachers, captivate learners and bridge the gaps in our divided education system. The learning apps are based on either tablets or desktop computers and are built around improving learners’ literacy and numeracy skills during weekly lessons.

TechEd was met with great enthusiasm and excitement during its first year at St Christopher’s and by 2015 two more MRP Foundation Schools had been added to the project. This year a fourth school, Aldinville Primary, was added to the project. Not only do learners love using the interactive technology in their lessons but the apps let them make more mistakes. This is a vital part of learning that encourages experimentation with the content and creative exploration of the subject matter, an exciting change from the usual the lesson format. Teachers are also assisted during the project. On-site facilitators and training sessions led by TechEd partners have done wonders to help the teachers enhance their technological skills set and reinforce content knowledge.

Interviews and surveys have shown that learners are benefitting from the project, with teachers reporting that the apps were a good resource and that learners were more confident in using numbers and phonics. Academic results from independent testing revealed good and insightful results, with year-on-year results showing the most improved scores, and with data pointing to the fact that more testing will provide even more valuable project information.

Other positive changes include a noticeable decrease in absenteeism, something most rural schools battle with especially when it is cold or raining. This enthusiasm has, however, created a new hurdle for the schools, as the more learner enrollment increases, the more overcrowded the classrooms become. Technological infrastructure and connectivity also remain an ongoing difficulty for the MRP Foundation to work around although great strides have been made in creating sustainable solutions for limited or no internet connection.

Despite a multitude of obstacles that many South African schools face, the TechEd team are ready to continue the project in the upcoming year – ultimately creating a more robust technology-based education project that succeeds in South Africa’s unique schooling system and is able to equip young learners to shine in their schooling career and beyond.

 

*All avenues of the TechEd Project, including the Breteau Foundation, will continue to be independently tested by Next Level Outcomes, contributing to vital research on technology and education.

 

**Annexure

 

RedCap Schools A holistic education programme in five schools in KwaDukuza focused on improving learner performance.

MRP Tech-ed A technology in education programme funded and facilitated by the MRP Foundation.

Global Literacy Project (GLP) A child-driven learning movement using tablet-based technology to tackle the widespread problem of illiteracy and poor education.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab A GLP implementation partner who helped design the GLP Project.

Tufts University Language Centre As one of the implementation partners of the GLP Tufts finds and develops the content for the colourful learning apps which the tablets are preloaded with.

Georgia State University Psychology Department One of the implementation partners.

Breteau Foundation Part of the literacy component of TechEd the Breteau Foundation aims to bring digital learning platforms to underprivileged school children. http://breteaufoundation.org

Khan Academy Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom. Khan Academy is used as part of the numeracy component of TechEd.

Numeric Numeric is using Khan Academy to create exciting and high impact learning environments around South Africa. www.numeric.org

KA Lite An offline version of Khan Academy. It is a lightweight solution providing high-quality education by bringing the power of online learning to the offline world. KA Lite is part of the numeracy component of TechEd.

Shepid IT and Technical Support.

Xander An educational app built by Tribage for South African and African learners.

AirBand A focused wireless broadband company that provides the bandwidth for the TechEd project.

Bodill Education Independent Maths testing and curriculum consultants.

Next Level Outcomes An independent research organisation responsible for facilitating the testing and evaluation study on the TechEd Project.