Developments in Literacy (DIL) commits to providing 200 primary and middle school math and English teachers access to lessons designed to clarify concepts important to their discipline. DIL will leverage both its expertise in meeting the specific needs of rural teachers and mobile technology to deliver supplemental content training, thereby providing an innovative, cost-effective solution to building concept clarity among in-service teachers in Pakistan.
In planning this project, DIL draws from experience conducting a mobile learning pilot involving 25 teachers. The intervention resulted in up to 56% increase between pre and post test scores on math concepts such as dividing decimals after viewing less than 15 minutes of instructional video via mobile phone. The pilot indicated tremendous potential in this training delivery platform. Further, the Strengthening Teacher Content Knowledge through Mobile Learning Commitment will also be informed by pilot participant survey data which suggested high interest and strong demand for content delivered via this innovative platform.
Implementation of this two-year commitment entails four activity areas: 1) assessing needs; 2) providing access to instructional content; 3) using mobile technology and technical support; and 4) ensuring concept understanding.
Assess: By the second month of the project, DIL will identify specific math and English concept clarity gaps among teachers. DIL will triangulate between, key-informant interviews with trainers and school management, teacher assessment data, and teacher self-assessments to inform selection of relevant learning material.
Provide access: By month nine, DIL will create a master digital library of high-quality, contextually relevant learning material in English and math subject areas intended for teacher use. The digital library will include a catalogue of mapped and aligned specially developed instructional material, open source lessons, and assessments. DIL plans to develop much of the English content supplemented by contextually and linguistically appropriate open-source or commercially provided material. DIL plans to select from Khan Academy open source lessons developed in Urdu for the math content.
Technology usage and support: By month nine, DIL will make the digital library accessible to 200 English and math teachers through mobile phones and user training orientation. The content will be pre-loaded into mobile phones and will be disseminated at local project offices or hubs (project offices serve multiple schools and are part of the pr-existing DIL education infrastructure). Project staff will orient users on accessing lessons and assessments via the mobile phone platform. Technical staff will provide on-going technical support.
Ensure understanding: Pre, formative and summative assessments will be built into the downloaded content and teachers will submit test answers via SMS. Analyzed results will be shared with teachers and trainers. Teachers requiring further concept clarity support will receive further coaching from peers or will access trainers by phone. Assessment activities will commence by month nine and will continue until the end of this two-year project.
It is a fact that the academic qualifications, knowledge of the subject matter, competence and skills of teaching and the commitment of the teacher have effective impact on the teaching-learning process.' (National Education Policy 1998-2010, 47)
Strengthening content knowledge among teachers is essential to providing quality education, which directly affects student learning, attendance and enrollment.
Teachers are products of a failed national education system mired by poor quality and ineffective teaching. As a result, teachers have various knowledge gaps that cannot be fully addressed in pre-service and in-service training, which are typically delivered in one to four days. Moreover, teachers lack access to knowledge materials that support independent learning. In order to break from this cycle of ineffective teaching perpetuated in part by weak subject knowledge, teachers need access to professional development opportunities that address such knowledge gaps through specific lessons designed to clarify concepts (UNESCO 2011 World Data on Education). Content competence and increased confidence among teachers will allow them to maximize their impact in the classroom, thereby transforming the quality of education the current generation of students receives.
Improving teacher quality is a critical link to increasing the number of students that enroll and complete primary and secondary education. School attendance is a nationwide concern, as about half of all students drop out by Grade 5, 70% of whom are female. Poor quality instruction discourages attendance and enrollment. According to the Pakistan Education Task Force 2011 Report, 'An overwhelming majority of parents see teaching as the key determinant of quality.' Studies show that parents are more likely to ensure school attendance when quality education is provided and students are learning. (Sales, International Journal of Educational Development, vol.19 issue 6, 1999, 409-422) (Ricardo Sabates, UNESCO Education for All Monitoring Report 2011)
In the next two years, DIL's objectives are to increase the subject knowledge of 500 private and public teachers by 30 percent, in three provinces on topics aligned with the Pakistan National Standards in English and math. Toward this end, DIL aims to refine and expand the digital library of localized math and English lessons to provide teachers opportunities for greater breadth and depth of content understanding. Within five years, DIL aims to scale this project to reach 1,000 direct and 30,000 indirect beneficiaries. DIL is seeking financial support to meet this goal.