July 31 Blended Learning Pilot Sponsored by Ilm Ideas (DFID-UKAID)
In July 2015 Knowledge Platform concluded a 12-week blended learning pilot deployed across five privately owned secondary schools in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and Rawalpindi districts. The pilot was the result of a grant agreement with Ilm Ideas, a Department for International Development (DFID) initiative in Pakistan. Schools were deliberately selected to reflect variations in fee structure (PKR 1,200 – 3,850), location, gender, and syllabi (Federal and Rawalpindi).
Knowledge Platform’s blended learning solution includes digital content and learning media based on local curriculum loaded onto a learning management system (LMS), and supported by standard technology components such as laptop, projector, speakers and clickers. The solution has been developed for both in-class and at-home deployment with the aim of enhancing classroom instruction and increase access to quality content.
During the course of the pilot, the system was used in classrooms three times a week along with weekly assessments administered by teachers. Content consisted of the entire 9th Grade Mathematics course based on Federal and Rawalpindi Board syllabi. Learning data was collected and stored in a centralized location easily accessible for teachers and administrators. Knowledge Platform staff provided in-class support for the duration of the pilot, helping teachers learn how to use learning data to build effective lesson plans.
Prior to the launch of the pilot, Knowledge Platform conducted a 3-day training for participating Math teachers. Teachers were trained in how to deploy and utilize the solution as well as gain exposure to education technology in general. Principals of each pilot school were required to attend the second day of training in order to gain a complete sense of the pilot, its scope and their role for successful implementation.
The overall goal of the pilot was to validate the pertinence of the solution with Pakistan’s educational context, market realities and infrastructure. A 3rd party evaluation team was engaged at the beginning of the project to assess the solution across four main areas:
1.) Learning Outcomes
2. ) Teaching Quality
3.) Student Engagement
4.) Solution Components
Evaluators visited each pilot school at the beginning, middle and end of the pilot to conduct interviews, surveys, and in-class observations. Evaluators concluded that Knowledge Platform’s blended learning solution “provides a useful tool to develop student interest and improve the conceptual understanding of both the student and the teacher.”
According to student survey results, 98 percent of the students felt teaching quality had improved with regular use of Ultrabot in the classroom. The use of activity-based learning modules, such as games and interactive assessments, also contributed to an improvement in teacher-student relationships. Although great improvements were made in 4 of the 8 pedagogical indicators observed, including overview of lesson, logical sequencing, summarizing and more, the evaluation team felt substantial training was needed for many teachers to successfully ‘blend’ technology into their personal teaching style rather than using it as a parallel system of instruction.
Student interest increased by 80-100 percent, with 51 percent of the students using the system at home, despite limited access for most rural and female students. Backend data also indicates that students have continued to log on to the system even after the end of the pilot and throughout the summer holiday.
Pre- and post-tests were administered to both treatment and control groups within the five pilot schools. Average class scores between pre- and post-pilot assessments improved by 14-25 percent for 3 of the 5 schools, with rural schools improving the most.
The evaluation team found the value of the ‘Solution’ to be “high in the Pakistani context. In classrooms with weak teaching and textbooks that invoke rote learning, the videos, games and assessments help improve conceptual learning of the child. The project has the possibility of functioning as an equalizer in the education field for low-income households who cannot access expensive schools or home tuitions.”