Empowering educators by providing open access to multilingual books for children and digital tools to adapt content to their needs.
In India, and across many parts of the developing world educators and young learners are impeded by a critical supply shortage of reading resources. Simply put; there are not enough books, in not enough languages, compounded by poor access and issues of affordability. UNESCO’s report on mother tongue literacy states, “children should be taught in a language they understand, yet as much as 40% of the global population does not have access to education in a language they speak or understand”. The lack of reading material in mother tongue languages is also linked to children’s inability to read at grade level expectation.
Cognisant of these on ground realities, Pratham Books launched StoryWeaver - a digital repository of openly licensed, multilingual books for children. The platform combines the power of technology, open licensing and collaboration to break down the barriers that limit access to the most valuable thing we have to give to our children: knowledge. On StoryWeaver, all content is available under one of the most liberal Creative Commons licenses: CC-BY4.0. This gives educators the freedom to read, download, print and share multilingual stories for free. Additionally, teachers can create tailor made content to suit the needs of their learners by translating or creating stories and flashcards with easy-to-use tools embedded on the platform. StoryWeaver is a participative platform where content creators and users can interact with each other in mutually beneficial ways to create more multilingual reading resources for children. In the two years since launch, StoryWeaver has grown from a repository of 800 stories in 24 languages to over 8100 stories in 113 languages.
Educators and learners in classrooms across 190 countries are already benefiting from the platform. Teachers have the freedom to decide how they wish to use StoryWeaver based on their classroom environments. Even digital infrastructure poor environments can access content when offline through a Progressive Web Application. As a classroom tool, StoryWeaver provides educators access to thousands of stories, across genres, reading levels and in multiple languages. Educators have used the platform to create early reading material in minority languages like Tibetan and Konkani, tribal languages like Kora and Santali and endangered languages like Kurdish. They have downloaded and projected our stories on to classroom walls, printed them for after school resource centres and used them to create digital libraries. Ed-tech social enterprises have gamified content for affordable learning apps for disadvantaged children to improve their English. Organisations like Bookshare use StoryWeaver to equip classrooms for print impaired children with accessible content. Books from StoryWeaver are available in local languages on other content platforms like the African Storybook Project, Bloom Library, World Reader, iArabicReader and mobile literacy apps in Vietnam and Indonesia and this is a testament to their universality.
By harnessing the power of technology and open licenses and adding the creative power of a collaborative and engaged community, StoryWeaver is providing educators with an open repository of reading resources to make their classrooms more engaging, libraries more diverse and learning fun for children.
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Bangalore, Karnataka, India
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
What makes our solution innovative:
StoryWeaver has created a new social publishing model. Open licensing and technology power a collaborative framework that enables the creation of multilingual reading resources for children at scale. At the core of the platform is an ever growing repository of quality content from global children’s books publishers such as Pratham Books, BookDash, African Storybook Project and Room to Read. Every publisher story on the platform generates on average five publisher translations and at least seven translations generated by our community. This creates a multiplier effect that benefits a cross section of learners across geographies, languages and needs.
How technology is integral to our solution:
StoryWeaver connects content creators and users on its platform which has been built using FOSS (Free and open source system). Modular platform architecture allows components to be scaled with ease. An API approach allows for quick modifications and customised creation of third party APIs. The platform is responsive and can be accessed on desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile phones. A simple, clean, non-bandwidth intensive interface coupled with content available in different resolutions reduces data consumed. A PWA allows users to download 12 books per device to an Offline Library which can be accessed when there is no internet connectivity.
Our solution goals over the next 12 months:
StoryWeaver is constantly evolving to benefit educators. To this end, leveled, multilingual content on platform will scale to 15,000 books, with a renewed focus on STEM subjects, early readers and life skills. Since listening is a crucial component for language development , audio stories and audio visual stories with Single Language Subtitling will help teachers foster reading skills in learners. New collaborative workflows will connect them to educators across the world to enable sharing of resources.
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:
StoryWeaver envisions itself as the largest open global repository of multilingual supplementary books for children. We also plan to develop depth within each language by having 100 local language libraries on the platform with at least 100 books each, giving educators access to a ready made repository of content in mainstream, minority, tribal and endangered languages. We envision a global network of teachers creating and sharing knowledge, and taking the joy of multilingual reading to more classrooms and learners
Our promotional video:
The key characteristics of the populations who will benefit from our solution in the next 12 months:
The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:
How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:
StoryWeaver currently operates from India,and is used in over 190+ countries globally.StoryWeaver is reaching crucial stakeholders in the literacy chain through on ground workshops and webinars. Workshop participants in turn introduce their peers to StoryWeaver, building a global network of reading ambassadors. These educators take content from StoryWeaver to students via pen drives, digital libraries, pre-loaded on to tablets, in braille formats and via mobile literacy apps. Content gap analysis and on ground conversations with teachers feeds into our editorial vision for the platform, diversifying our ever growing nucleus of quality content.
How many people we are currently serving with our solution:
StoryWeaver is currently used by 710,000+ users from over 190 countries around the world. Our community is made up of passionate educators, literacy organisations, language champions, authors, illustrators, ed-tech social enterprises, parents and book lovers who are all committed to helping take more stories to more children in more languages. Teachers have access to a never ending library of quality, multilingual content which they can use to to conduct read aloud sessions, create flashcards, improve reading skills and comprehension, or as a tool to aid the teaching of curricular concepts.
How many people we will be serving with our solution in the 12 months and the next 3 years:
StoryWeaver estimates our user base will grow to one million in the next 12 months, and 3 million in 3 years. We envision providing teachers with more stories in more languages in exciting new formats with enhanced tools to discover the content they need. StoryWeaver believes in the power of communities sharing knowledge and will empower content creators and users the directly collaborate with each other to create and share new content. Additionally, a focussed approach to collaborating with Government agencies, Ministries of Education and Language organisations will provide avenues for StoryWeaver to seed itself into existing, robust literacy programs.
How our solution team is organized:Non-Profit
How many people work on our solution team:20+
How many years we have been working on our solution:3-4 years
The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:
Our core team comprises of people with years of experience in multilingual publishing, education, field work, non-profit sector management and communication. Our skills combined with inputs from linguists, UI/UX experts, data analysts and contribute to a platform that is ever evolving to suit the needs of a passionate committed community of users who are instrumental to the success of our mission.
Our revenue model:
StoryWeaver is funded through philanthropy at this point and we do not have a revenue model built in. We plan to make this initiative self sustainable over the next couple of years by strengthening the community of content creators and content users and continue to catalyse a strong participative culture that will enable the creation of more content. Over time, we expect this ecosystem to become self sustaining with minimal maintenance of the platform at our end.
Why we are applying to Solve:
We have developed a low cost, scalable model that has demonstrated proof of global uptake. By applying to Solve, we hope deploy this solution to a wider audience and help reach educators around the world who can impact the learning outcomes of many more children.
The key barriers for our solution:
It is crucial we continue to build and nurture an engaged community of content creators and users who will participatively work with us to address the scarcity of reading resources for children. We also wish to improve the quality of user generated content. We believe that Solve can enable us to explore AI and NMT tools to improve the quality of translations on platform. Collaborations with social minded tech partners, language departments of universities, literacy organisations and government agencies will help address these barriers and achieve scale.
The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers:
- Purvi Shah Director of StoryWeaver, Pratham Books