Dot & Line Centres
Create scalable learning environments, enabling women to gain meaningful employment from home, while students improve learning outcomes.
Dot & Line's co-founders, Lina Ahmed and Maheen Adamjee, describe Dot & Line's philosophy and vision in this one minute video clip.
Women gain employment after being trained as Dot & Line Teacher Franchise Partners (TFP). Here a TFP recruited during Dot & Line's Human Centred Design Research in April 2017 facilitates our blended learning product from her home, with students of Grade 5. In this picture a Grade 5 student interacts with Dot & Line's app and worksheets.
What problem does your innovation solve?
Pakistan has an estimated 30 mil school-going children between the ages of 5 and 16. 50% don’t have basic numeracy and literacy skills. As a result 67% of students attend after-school tuitions, a thriving shadow economy that is fragmented and unregulated. We will train women to convert their homes into low cost, high quality learning centres bringing quality to the tuition segment. In times of violence these centres can remain open in every neighbourhood in close proximity to homes.
Explain your innovation.
The innovation is a blended learning math enrichment program for students of Grade 3 to Grade 8. It includes paper-based worksheets, a gamified app, an interactive base-ten kit and a comprehensive teaching manual.
Dot & Line’s educational product is delivered afterschool in home-based centres, through a network of trained and certified teachers. Women with degrees in STEM or fourteen years of schooling, who are unable to join the workforce due to cultural barriers, will apply to become Dot & Line Teacher Franchise Partners (TFP). Each TFP receives a teacher training manual along with rigorous training outlining Dot & Line philosophy and cutting edge teaching techniques in mathematics. They then, with Dot & Line’s support, recruit children from their community and conduct classes from their own homes, for an affordable monthly fee.
D&L conducted HCD research in December 2016 and April 2017; one was TFP and product focused and the other identified our parent demographic, tested their willingness to pay for this product and determined a price point. Research reports concluded a strong interest from home-based mothers to come on board as TFPs. There is also a strong inclination from parents in our target demographic to enroll in a quality-assured enrichment centre at our price point.
The TFP pays a 40% royalty fee on monthly tuition payments to D&L making this revenue-share business model sustainable. Break even point will be reached Oct 2018.
Web App has been fully developed with the service design wireframes created by FUSE project’s Jake Skates (Director of Experience Design) and Neil Torrefiel (Senior Experience Designer) in San Francisco.
The central dashboard houses current students, attendance log, fee payments, progress
reports for each student generated with average speed & accuracy metrics.
Student profile is linked to the relevant lesson organised by grade level. There are other quality control features built in.
A glimpse of Dot & Line's blended learning product. Our worksheets start from a basic intuitive level with incremental increases in the difficulty level. Each child can navigate the product independently with little help from the Teacher Franchise Partner (TFP). This model is not based on didactic teaching and TFPs are merely facilitators.
Who: Implemented in lower middle income segments. It will impact two target demographic; students aged 8 to 13 years (Grade 3 to 8) and women (aged 18 to 65 years).
How: Students: Increase learning outcomes measured through metrics on speed and accuracy recorded through our app.
TFP earn an income from safety of homes. Success measured through TFP unique login on the app and on-ground team captains who collect monthly payments and quality check.
Where: Dot & Line is implementing this innovation in Karachi – launch set for October 2017. This asset-light solution can be set up in violent neighbourhoods around the city with a two-day training delivered to educated women. Homes are converted to learning centres at a low cost and these centres are sustained by the monthly affordable tuition fee. One TFP will cover a half mile radius and no other TFP will be recruited from that neighborhood to avoid conflict.
Each TFP can choose the number of hours they would commit to conducting these classes at home. This menu aligns time commitment with monthly income earned.
This table describes the road map for 2018. It includes cities in which the innovation will be implemented along with the number of Teacher Franchise Partners in each city as well as the number of children in each learning centre.
How is your innovation unique?
a) Our worksheets- The content of our product progresses with incremental levels of difficulty (micro step approach). It is localized to make the learning experience immersive and effective through real world examples. Thematic in its approach, children learn math through potent universal themes such as compassion, budgeting, hygiene, entrepreneurship, environmental conservation, making this a truly holistic academic product aligned to the national curriculum.
b) Web App – The app brings transparency and quality control to the tuition sector. It registers students with their unique login recording speed and accuracy metrics and maintains a database of concepts mastered. In addition it takes care of administrative tasks for the TFP recording student attendance, tuition payments received, contact data base and all curriculum updates.
c) Doing away with the brick and mortar Dot & Line’s product is both asset light and scalable.
What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?
Plagiarism : A TFP using our content and illegally taking on students. Strategy: Andrew Linch legal advisor from Hogen Lovells is working on simple contracts. Any TFP breaching quality guidelines will be disconnected from the app.
Tracking and collecting payments: We need to zero in on a practical and logistically viable method of collecting payments as franchise partners expand. Strategy: Research shows mothers want to pay cash. We allotted one on ground captain to 30 TFPs that caters to all spot checking and payment collections.
TFP drop out rate: Once TFP’s understand our method they could bypass the 40% income cut. Strategy: In talks with ELN to incentivise TFPs with accredited online training courses at regular intervals.
Tell us more about you.
Co-Founders and team have successfully bootstrapped for two years and taken Dot & Line from idea to prototype stage by attracting in-kind help from financial and legal experts, and educationalists. They have been selected by two accelerators i2i (Invest to Innovate) based in Pakistan & SPRING a London accelerator focused on adolescent girls .Through SPRING we have conducted 2 HCD researches, received in kind support to build our product and a grant of GBP 49k moving us towards prototype launch.
What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?
Emergency Setting - Elaborate
Primary: Karachi, an urban conflict zone with violence relating to ethnic feuds and turf wars. Solution: Quality assured, safe, home based learning centres in close proximity to studentshomes.
Emergency setting: In the event of school closure due to security concerns Dot&Line's website will host a donate button. Any donor can donate the training fee of one or more women enabling her to get the two-day training, receive all materials and set up a learning centre in her home one mile radius.
Where will your innovation be implemented?
Violent zones: Karachi (turf wars), Lahore (sectarian conflict), Quetta (religious conflict), Swat
Tailored: Fee: The standard monthly fee would vary depending on the neighbourhood. This would be done by testing the average income of the neighbourhood.
Access to Capital: For low income areas D&L's donate button on our website allows donors to support the capital/training fee of one or more teacher franchise partner during violence/unrest.
Experience in Implementation Country(ies)
Yes, for more than one year.
Curriculum: Salma Alam, PhD in Math, Masters Harvard Graduate School of Education. Salman Siddiqui director of Educational Resource Development Centre
Branding/Web app: Experience Designers at FUSE San Francisco
Finance: Marina Braga, business consultant at PWC London and Jawwad Farid actuarial scientist.
Micro-franchise Phd: Juli Huang, London School of Economics
SPRING London advisors:Ramona Liberoff (CEO), Suzanne Biegle (Investment director), Roo Rogers (Founder/business designer)
I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for more than a year.
Sector Expertise - Elaborate
The founders have a combined seven years experience in the education sector. Furthermore we have 2.5 years experience running an afterschool math centre which has allowed us to test our technique and iterate content. We worked with over one hundred children who have shown an increase in confidence, a decrease in math anxiety and quantifiable improvement in learning outcomes measured through our diagnostic tests.
Existing Prototype or Pilot: I have tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.
We are a registered for-profit company (including social enterprises).
How has your Idea changed based on feedback?
During HCD research conducted in Lyari (a violent neighbourhood in Karachi) Dot & Line spoke to two women, Zeenat and Mahira) who revealed to us that mothers in these neighbourhoods have no formal education and therefore look for ALL subjects in learning centres. Dot & Line's product only tackles math and literacy at a secondary level. Based on this feedback we are considering the idea of keeping 15 minutes in every class open for help on any subject that the child may need with the teacher.
Who will implement this Idea?
We have a full time staff of 12 staff members including founding partners (directors), two education associates, content developers, two illustrators, one accountant, a franchise manager and part time legal counsel, and creative developer.
Partners are working on this project full-time for the past one year.
Location: Karachi, Pakistan
All Staff is supporting this idea full time.
What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?
Through HCD it was identified that on an individual level our end users struggle with large class sizes and as a result do not get the individual attention required in school, they also face the challenge of travelling long distances to attend tuitions to bridge the learning gap.
Systems level: The amount parents spend on private schooling maps the amount spent on after school tuitions due to gaps in the schooling system, however a common struggle is that private home based tuition teachers are mostly unqualified and therefore lack quality and sound teaching techniques which effects the learning outcomes of children.
How is your organization considering sustainable growth in order to continue making an impact over time?
Our model is based on a revenue share. Which means that every time a TFP partner receives her monthly fee, she pays Dot & Line 30-40% of that monthly tuition fee. The percentage of revenue share may evolve over the years to keep TFP partners incentivised based on performance, referrals of other TFP partners and number of years spent within the network!
Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact that you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question/hurdle you need to address to get there?
IMPACT: Dot & Line wants scale our blended learning product to reach over 50,000 children in five years and boost their learning outcomes in Math and literacy. Furthermore we want to financially empower around 5000 women with the means to earn a flexible income from their own homes in five years.
Question: How do we keep Teacher Franchise Partners in our network and incentivise them year on year so that there are minimal concerns of plagiarism and copyright infringements.
How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) outcomes for this project?
Our app records all students enrolled in the program and generates metrics on speed and accuracy for each child as they progress through the lessons. Our diagnostic test will set a baseline upon which metrics will record improvement.
On-ground captains will have complete lists for spot checks and will record qualitative results like TFPs following quality guidelines, clean centres, increased confidence in math in students and whether the learning experience is enjoyable for enrolled students.
What is the timeline for your project Idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?
1. Lock down a key partnership for online teacher training & final edit on product
2. Soft Launch in October 2017. Following this we plan to iterate our educational product, apply learnings especially on the logistics of rolling out this program and payment methods.
3. Develop a robust marketing strategy based on learnings.
4. Nationwide launch aimed at 2018 in three phases. Extend learnings from soft launch to launch nationwide. Learn aspirations of parents and teachers in different areas.
My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:
Between $100,000 and $500,000 USD
How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed Idea live?
Between 10-20 paid, full-time staff
Is your organization registered in the country that you intend to implement your Idea in?
We are registered in all countries where we plan to implement.
How long have you and your colleagues been working on this Idea together?
What do you need the most support with for your innovation?
Business Development / Partnerships Support
Communications / Marketing / Graphic Design