One-line solution summary:
Building data driven education systems that increase efficiency, accelerate teacher professional development and empower learners from low-cost schools for self-paced learning.
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.
Across the globe, every child learns differently and at their own pace. In our primary focus geography-Uganda- the classrooms have extremely high teacher to student ratios (sometimes as high has 150:1). What makes even more challenging is that teachers in these schools don't receive adequate training to provide individualized support to students. Teachers act as instructors who teach to the median, leaving behind both those that cannot grasp concepts quickly enough and those that have understood are not being challenged. This learning crisis can seem impossible to overcome.
ArqLite Green is a social enterprise is currently developing a personalized learning platform that can help tackle the above issue by allowing students to learn at their own pace, in their own way, changing to role of the teacher as a key facilitator for their learning. The model allows teachers to receive structured lesson plans through the platform that helps them customize the learning experience for their students. We have observed that even though children learn at different levels, by receiving an education that is personalized to their needs and abilities they can grasp ideas at their own pace, challenging those ahead and bringing those behind up to speed.
Through blended learning, we’re building a platform to provide teachers assistance at two levels- for the para-skilled teacher there are pre-designed customized playlists and cues that he/she can directly use for their classroom; for the more skilled teacher they can ignore the cues and curate the playlists according to needs of their perception of student’s needs. This platform provides the teachers with accurate and real-time data on the student performance that helps them alter their teaching according to the individual student needs.
2some focuses on blended learning as a pedagogical strategy to provide more personalized education in large classrooms with few or even no qualified teachers. Beyond specific goals and target outcomes that are set on a case-by-case basis for different schools, the overall goal is to improve learning outcomes.
2some utilizes some common strategies to implement our products in schools in a variety of ways depending on the needs of a particular school. 2some focuses on teachers as primary users of EdTech in ensuring learning gains for the students. Lead teachers and teaching assistants receive ongoing training on its pedagogical model through 2some’s platform. They learn about managing groups in classrooms and working with data in instructional teams. They receive formal training every couple of months and receive in-class coaching from 2some’s School Managers throughout the year.
Certified teachers deliver lessons to student groups using textbooks. Then, students rotate between small group teaching with the lead teacher and technology-enabled activities overseen by a teaching assistant. Students review concepts by means of videos, games and assessments with instantaneous feedback. The data resulting from the assessments are aggregated and immediately made available to the teachers. The assessment data aim to give information to the teachers, support student feedback and provide further teaching support.
Blended learning can thus support teachers who face large classroom sizes. These technology solutions can help them group students according to their learning level and level of support needed. It also helps teaching assistants, who might have limited content knowledge, use the platform to review concepts and find teaching strategies with limited preparation time.
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?Kampala, Uganda
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?
ArqLite Green was created after our founder, Joseph Mulabbi decided to take a sabbatical in Uganda to teach school children. His experiences with children in remote orphanages, and rural villages caused him to leave his well-paying job and set up an organization that works on developing solutions that can bridge the education gap for children in remote regions of Uganda and the world.
We have for the past 12 months been focused on in-the-field research to understand the core challenges of both the students and teachers towards access to and provision of quality education especially for those in low-resource communities.
In our findings and engagements with academians and NGOs such as Unicef Uganda, we discovered that children drop out or are absent from class for several reasons. Among poor families, the cost of school uniforms, books, stationery, and saving funds becomes too much to bear, pushing children out of school or leading families into debt. Illness and domestic work keep many children from attending school on a regular basis. Children with disabilities, orphans and other disadvantaged children are especially at risk of school exclusion.
Teachers have a great impact on student achievement. But the rampant teacher absenteeism and under-qualification of many teachers spell disaster for children. Less than half of children are literate at the end of primary school. In secondary school, only 15 per cent of students are proficient in biology, 43 per cent in English and 47 per cent in maths.
The school environment also plays a part in children’s motivation to stay in school and learn. However, violence against children is commonplace in Ugandan schools, including caning and other forms of outlawed corporal punishment. Many children report being abused by a teacher or bullied in school. Male teachers often sexually harass girls.
Images below as an example of our research findings both from our NGO collaborators and our in-field findings.
As an education improvement focused enterprise therefore, we dive deep into research to unleash educational mishaps through which we base to design innovative and human-centered solutions that can empower and impact greatly the lives of our beneficiaries.
Who is the Team Lead for your solution?
What makes your solution innovative?
We adopt design-thinking approaches to create scalable solutions centered on the learner. We aim to build systems that increase efficiency, accelerate professional learning and empower learners.
As an EdTech company, our products and services aim to harness education technology to improve the learning outcomes of primary and secondary school children. More specifically, our use of technology in education is expected to allow teachers to monitor progress, address the issue of pupil-per-teacher ratio, which often disadvantages schools with lower budgets, and encourage students to learn at their own pace by giving them access to resources on the internet they may otherwise not have been able to access.
2some uses blended learning, a teaching and learning approach that combines face-to-face classroom methods with computer-mediated activities, to deliver instruction. It involves leveraging technology, including the internet, to offer a more personalized learning experience that gives students more control over their own learning. This can be implemented in different formats, such as the ‘flipped classroom’ and ‘station rotation’. Blended learning has gained attention in development contexts as a way to address the lack of trained teachers.
Students tap away on WiFi-enabled tablets as they work on interactive assignments. They learn at their own pace, mastering certain concepts before moving on to more difficult questions. Teachers or facilitators, on the other hand, can turn to high quality pre-created learning content, or create personal plans for students based on analytics and reports on how each child is faring.
We intend to develop our own integrated Wireless device called SomaCloud that runs infrastructure software that can make the platform seamlessly available offline. Our solution will constantly be collecting data on how students learn, with an estimate of over million data points that will be generated everyday and process on the cloud to power our Machine Learning(ML) systems. This ML system will provide recommendations to both teachers and students to make their learning experience personalized.
SomaCloud makes e-learning available offline, while leveraging manpower – teachers or facilitators – on the ground. Women who do not have proper training as teachers, for instance, can be empowered to be teaching assistants with SomaCloud and effectively teach and earn a salary.
High-quality learning material from content partners – instructional videos, assessment questions, lesson plans and performance analytics – is uploaded onto SomaCloud, which also acts as a WiFi router, server, storage and battery pack.
In places with limited or no Internet connectivity, WiFi-enabled devices can be connected to SomaCloud over a local wireless network; student data is collected and stored on the device too.
For just USD 5 per child per month, low-income schools in Uganda – typically beset with problems such as poor infrastructure and varied teaching quality – can get SomaCloud with its pre-loaded content, as well as training. For USD 10 per child per month, the schools also get 20 WiFi-enabled tablets.
Our innovation is to make it work with poor internet connectivity. We believe that the seamless integration of online/offline content delivery is critical for product feasibility and viability. At the core of our product is Machine learning that is continuously gets trained by the thousands of students/teachers using the product. With data from over 200,000 students, we can integrate a curriculum for in-service teacher coaching using videos that have been created by trainers and experts, that has never been done before in any student learning platform.
What is your theory of change?
Our theory of change is as follows:
- IT infrastructure: equipment and network infrastructure for strong connectivity
- Manpower: Service providers and students- Create job opportunities by hiring 50 teachers and education specialists and 50 for adoption of our solution in their practices.
- Develop skills & Knowledge of at least 500 teachers’ workforce.
- Funding (Internal and External)- 1M USD funding is required to have envisioned scale-up is next 18 months
- Build products and solutions that succeed - which is why we always design with end-users in mind. Whether custom built products for clients or our own - we believe in placing the user at the center of everything we do.
- Design and build mobile applications, web platforms and hardware-based systems for organizations focused on education and learning. We also seek to provide advisory and consulting services and support research initiatives to drive innovation within the sector.
- Through our work, we aim to make lasting improvements to existing systems of learning and continue to help children in remote regions access high-quality learning tools.
- Build partnerships with at least 50 corporations and organizations for scaleup and adoption of our solution.
- Integration of AI, machine learning and predictive algorithms in existing solution in next 12 months
- Training and education of at least 200 education professionals to implement our solution
- Improved accessibility and affordability to quality education services to 1 million beneficiaries collectively in next one year
- Better professional communication among 500 education professionals network build to adopt our solution
- Enlarged catchment area by reaching out to 500,000 beneficiaries who are smartphone users and can adapt out innovation in order to avail services in the next one year
- Improved quality of education and teacher professionalism
- Enhanced efficiency
- Students and teacher satisfaction
- Improved quality
- Improved cost
2some’s theory of change goal is to bring world-class learning to every neighborhood by empowering teachers with the tools to deliver a personalized learning experience and to measure individual student’s progress and learning outcomes, thereby closing the sizeable achievement gap at the base of the pyramid.
2some’s ultimate goal is to build a global network of "Learning Labs" that educate and empower millions of students at the base of the pyramid. 2some takes two forms — labs set up in partnership with low-income schools where 2some will be used to aid instruction as well as stand-alone after-school labs. At the core of these learning labs is a blended learning approach, which combines traditional teaching methods with small-group and individual learning.
One-to-many learning is still the primary vehicle for teaching new concepts for the first time with small group and one-to-one self-paced learning used to achieve mastery and help students in addressing personal strengths and weaknesses. This shifts the focus of the classroom from teacher to student, catering to the needs of individual students vs. a "one-size-fits-all" approach.
2some’s labs are powered by a unique Soma Cloud technology, which allows teachers to bring the best of educational content on the web as well as supplementary content specifically tailored to the local curriculum into their classrooms. The Soma Cloud "Hotspot" is lightweight, mobile, and battery-operated and can operate without an internet connection (internet is only required when new content needs to be synced from the central server). The Soma Cloud, which can store content ranging from instructional videos to e-books, is part of a Lab Kit bundle, which includes tablets, earphones, a projector, and peripherals. Realizing that teacher training is as critical to driving learning outcomes, Soma Cloud is investing significant energy in developing training modules to train teachers on blended learning. Its platform provides teachers with feedback and analysis on students’ progress and performance, allowing students to track learning deficits at the skill or micro-skill level. With this information, teachers can more effectively invest their time in the areas where students need the most help.
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries do you plan to be operating within the next year?
What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?
Our unique approach to problem-solving lies in always putting the learner first. Whether teacher, administrator or coach - we believe in building products that empower their work, improves their daily experience and helps them learn and grow.
In the next 12 months, our focus will be on developing the platform in line with the Ministry of Education acceptable curriculum, carryout a user-testing, refine and validate platform, develop a beta version and officially launch it on the market. In Uganda, 2some aims to reach about 500+ low income (private or government) schools in the next 5 years. This will make our solution accessible to over 200,000 teachers and 10 million students. In Order to achieve this, we plan to improve our technology backbone and content repository for students and teachers. Our vision is that our platform becomes the de-facto tool for teachers to upskill themselves on the job by getting the right feedback regularly. Specifically, our impact goals will be;
- Map out Professional Development content for teachers tied to the curriculum and skills in those schools.
- Validate the usability of the tools and data to make the student and teacher learning journey frictionless.
- Scale up this solution from 500 to 800 schools with a strong emphasis on personalized coaching for teachers.
- Create 2000 micro coaching video modules that will be available to teachers.
- Expand to additional countries in East Africa (Kenya, South Sudan, and Burundi).
- Build staff capacity to lead and cultivate leaders within the organization.
- Complete development of gamified app as a tool for teacher training and engagement.
To reach the goals mentioned above, we shall seek partners to:
- Develop an app for teacher engagement and encouragement.
- Advise on hiring talent and cultivating leaders.
- Advise on how to best communicate impact.
- Devise innovative strategies to bring services to more clients
- Grow exposure in East Africa and around the globe.
- Provide financial support.
What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?
Our key challenges are:
a) Access to funds: Our greatest barrier has been obtaining funding for the development of innovative solutions to track learning needs and collect data to correlate teacher input and student outcomes.
b) Access to Business Mentors:
Access to Business Mentors: We want to be able to experimental and scale our innovation, and for that we need help in growing our team and capacity.
c) Access to Partner networks.
How do you plan to overcome these barriers?
a) Access to funds: By leveraging Solve, Global Schools Forum, and the Jacob’s foundation platforms, they can help us connect with donors/ individuals willing to fund these solutions and take them to scale
b) Access to Business Mentors: We believe that through the same platforms (Solve, Global Schools Forum, and the Jacob’s foundation) we shall have access to a network of entrepreneurs, business coaches and mentors who can help us in the design, pilot and scale of our innovation.
c) Access to Partner networks: Solve, Global Schools Forum, and the Jacob’s foundation partner networks can help us get access to more schools and/or individuals willing to co-develop, implement or help scale our solutions in Uganda and United States.
Mr. Joseph Mulabbi Founder & CEO, RefuConnect