The Chalkboard Guides
Which Challenge does your solution most closely address?Scalable Innovations for Blended Learning: How can evidence-based blended learning solutions be scaled in low-resource contexts?
Pitch your solution.
We face severe challenges delivering high quality education in conflict-affected DRC because of a poorly-trained teacher workforce, resulting in poor quality teaching, short-term school closures due to insecurity, a transient population and low parental literacy levels. Covid-19 has only emphasised the need for education to be more resilient to overcome these challenges.
Our solution to this is a Structured Pedagogy tool for teachers to accelerate student learning harnessing the ubiquity of the chalkboard, the radio and the basic mobile phone; it can be used in high, low and no tech contexts. The Chalkboard Guides (CBG) supports teachers to deliver high-quality learning that can withstand the toughest challenges such as war, disease and weak infrastructure. To quote Pauline Rose, “Inclusive education systems will function for everyone if they function for the most marginalized”.
Designed by teachers for teachers, CBG brings Structured Pedagogy to an overlooked but ubiquitous learning tool: the chalkboard; improving the quality of instruction by providing clear content, layout and order, provided lesson-by-lesson in structured booklets. Crucially, we are convinced this would redefine what good practice looks like and improve the learning outcomes of children in our context and beyond.
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?Los Angeles, CA, USA
Our solution's stage of development:Concept
Is this a new solution, an existing solution, or an adaptation of an existing solution?New solution
How does your solution incorporate research?
Background: Targeting teacher capacity to enhance long-term learning outcomes has a strong evidence base (Hanushek & Rivkin, 2010; Klassen & Kim, 2019).
Structured pedagogy (SP), adopted by the World Bank (Bashir, et al., 2018) and UNICEF (Chakera, et al., 2020) as a robust, practical framework for structuring pedagogy; underpins of the design of the CBG.
SP aims to improve classroom practices by delivering a systematic change in content and methods through structured resources (Chakera, et al., 2020). SP programmes have led to sustained behaviour change (Smart, 2019).
Design Framework for Mobile Delivery (Wagner,. et al., 2014)
Research Informed Design: Effective design for SP interventions must not place additional burdens on teachers, simple formats, minimal content; for example, the Funda Wande project (Piper, et al., 2020). The design of supporting materials delivered remotely using low-tech (mobile, USB) channels will draw on the established design frameworks for mobile delivery (Wagner,. et al., 2014).
Prototyping and feasibility: An iterative, research-through-innovation, approach will be used in prototyping and feasibility stages (Easterday, et al., 2018). Adoption and adaption data (see indicator in ToC) collected in partnership with the Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo (UCBC) will inform design evolution. This will involve capacity-building in observational research skills for teacher-educators and classroom practitioners.
Impact Evaluation: Following voluntary buy-in from Oxford Measured, they will provide technical support for the eventual project evaluation design. It is envisioned that a strong component of this will be a 2 phase RCT as have been used in other SP evaluations (Miering, 2020)
Research Ethics: Findings published in open-access format. Data held within DRC in the custody of Justice Rising. All research will be conducted in accordance with internationally accepted ethical standards (IIED 2012, UNICEF 2018) and the procedures of UCBC and Justice Rising.
Who is the Team Lead for your solution?
What makes your solution innovative?
Our solution is an innovative approach to the challenge because:
It is both teacher-centred and teacher-driven therefore increasing the likelihood of its uptake through increased efficacy and agency
It reimagines structured pedagogy, bringing it to the most utilised resource in the classroom: the board
It has cultural relevance, confirmed during the three years worth of multi-stakeholder engagement
Furthermore, If it works in one of the most challenging of contexts, this would encourage others to adapt the approach in their contexts. Therefore, it will be tested across Justice Rising’s network of 18 schools in the DRC during prototyping to ascertain its effectiveness. Attempting this in a protracted conflict context is in itself innovative. Following this, it would be expanded to other contexts drawing on the strengths of the collaborative partnerships that exist within the Global School Forum and other networks of practitioners to investigate how adaptable it is in other contexts.
The CBG have the potential to enable broader positive impacts from others in this space because
the board is so ubiquitous
It is a high impact and low effort solution
It is a hi-lo-no tech solution, making it applicable and relevant in multiple contexts
It can significantly improve teacher practice in the classroom and learning outcomes of children.
What is your theory of change?
Description: High quality education reaches marginalised communities (D1). Improved learning outcomes and teacher practice(D2)
Indicators: RCT with pre- mid- and post- intervention testing (I1). Participant researcher observations focusing on classroom practice (participants, peers, learners) (I2). UX/UI interviews with practitioners and peers (I3).
Assumptions: Improving use of chalkboards leads to improved learning (A1). Access to tech and internet will continue to grow (A2). Schools will continue to need to respond to crises (A3).
Description: Improved classroom instruction (D3).
Indicators: Participant researcher observations focusing on classroom practice (participants, peers, learners) (I2)
Assumptions: Improving teaching leads to improved learning (A4)
Description: Chalkboard models and booklet (D4). Audio clips (D5). Video clips (D6). Worksheets (D7).
Indicators: Uptake of open-source resources by other schools and practitioners outside the project (I4). Bibliometric indicators on open access research publications on project data (I5).
Assumptions: The board will remain as prominent as it currently is in classrooms (A5)
Description: Design (D8). Prototype (D9). Pilot/Evaluate 1 (D10). Scale (D11), Evaluate 2 (D12)
Indicators: Findings from focus groups and usability studies informing iterative design process (I6). Evaluate1: Baseline and Mid-line evaluation of phase 1 to inform finalization of CBG design and further scaling of implementation (I7). Evaluate 2: Outcome assessment from phase 1 and 2. Final review of process data and UX/UI data to abstract and crystalise evidence based design principles for further CBG content (I8).
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
In which countries do you currently operate?
What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?
Our goals for the first year:
- The completion of the chalkboard design and prototyping. [through Design workshops with teachers and support from GSF, the Curriculum Foundation and Teach First]
- To field test and pilot the guides within JR’s network of schools (concurrent activities with CBG design). [through Further workshops on CBG with teachers and school leaders with Oxford MeasurED support]
- To set the iterative design process and platform [ by a measure of student and teacher uptake, engagement (through observations and tech data) and student learning]
Our goals between third and fifth year:
- 5 other school operators and 1 national government have adopted the CBG and it is in an EiE context [through JR leveraging its relationships and connections to share the learning in the first 3 years of CBG design, use and re-design to share the CBG to other francophone contexts. JR has members who belong to education networks working in resource constrained and fragile contexts with whom they will share the concepts, resources and learning]
- There is evidence of the guide’s effectiveness in multiple contexts, preferably with accompanying case studies. [through Robust data collection will take place at each stage of the CBG development and implementation. This will include a mixture of qualitative and quantitative data gained through lesson observations, FGDs and student assessments]
- Research about impact of the guides contributes to filling research gaps about what interventions work and how to ensure the adoption of those interventions [through participation in education conferences. Publishing in education journals]
What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?
This is a conflict zone
School closures are common
Children and teachers are working in their 2nd or 3rd language
Teacher pre-service training insufficient
The complexity of the current education system resulting in incoherence and inconsistency
Low indigenous research capacity and isolation from the international community of researchers
Justice Rising is determined to make this project happen but there is a need for additional funding if it is to go to scale.
How do you plan to overcome these barriers?
Conduct training in stable areas of DRC or Rwanda, utilize local knowledge of participant researchers and UCBC staff to maximise engagement and minimise risk.
CBG and supporting material designed to be modular and standalone learning plans which are usable independently or sequentially.
Multi-modal presentation of all CGB and supporting materials. Information will be prioritized and presented in minimalist format to maximize clarity.
No prior pedagogical knowledge or professional learning will be assumed. Teachers will input on usability and relevance of CGB and supporting materials at every phase of design and implementation.
Working with practitioners and stakeholders at a local level to ensure buy in and support for the project (including community leaders, parents, local government and NGOs).
The project will involve researchers from UCBC at all stages of data gathering, analysis, reporting and dissemination. Wherever possible publications will be placed in relevant national or regional journals. Support for research leadership will be given to UCBC researchers to lead publication teams and to lead dissemination at international scholarly conferences.