Hi @mary! Thanks for taking time to read and comment. We've been in conversations with KICD to be part of their tablet initiative. They are currently revising our content for it to be uploaded to the Education Cloud and be available to all private and public schools. Indeed, it is a great opportunity for all content developers. UWEZO has been of inspiration to us for our household distribution strategy and EGRA and EGMA assessments have been built into each level of our App so that we can compare and track early grade reading progress. Thanks so much, Lu
Hello OpenIDEO community and thank you for your comments and questions!
We’ve incorporated most of the feedback in the contribution but here’s some extra elucidation on a few points.
How are we innovative? While there are many literacy Apps on the market, SEMA LAND combines three elements we’ve found to be essential : game based learning for an engaging experience, a rigorous path to literacy to raise early grade reading assessment scores and locally-relevant content all inspired by the african culture- the combination of these three elements make SEMA LAND a unique App on the SSA market with a new approach to learning. Expanding our distribution outside the school context - to smartphone owning parents of our users, is also an innovative approach to education.
Access to hardware? Digitalization of classrooms as well as proliferation of smartphones in low income communities and refugee camps is on the rise and we count on leveraging this trend, starting where hardware is most available. A few examples of this: 1) the tablet initiative in which the government in Kenya is deploying 1.2M tablets in public and private schools and they are currently revising our App to upload the content to the tablets. 2) We had 2,000+ downloads in 4 weeks (no online marketing just by word of mouth) in Kibera (largest slum in Nairobi) from low-cost smartphone owning parents.
How is the idea human centred and can parents with no technology literacy understand it? We followed a Human Centred Design Approach from day one testing existing literacy Apps, sitting behind hundreds of classrooms and living in rural communities with families living on less than a dollar per day. One of the many things we quickly found was that that our user interface had to be flawless in order for 5 years old children to navigate through it without the help of an adult. We tested and iterated over 150 versions of the App. Our testing now shows how children in rural villages who have never used a phone before are able to understand what to do and learn with it. One concrete example was nailing the login UI. While most literacy Apps require the help of an adult to write user’s name and sign in, we ask for a Selfie and users can identify their profile through their picture. We also sat in feedback sessions with over 500 parents and teachers to make sure the user experience was also easy for anyone with no prior technology literacy.
How are we going to be sustainable? We understand from other organizations in the region that broad adoption doesn’t necessarily lead to sustainable finances. While we’re committed to distributing SEMA LAND and SEMA RUN across SSA we’re also keen to find sustainable sources of revenue, and are still exploring how to do that given the market dynamics.
A commercial application to subsidize the App at no cost for emerging markets is a model we have thought about. We also imagined a scenario in which a donor can sponsor a child’s literacy path directly and receive updates on the child’s progress. (Ex Mr. Smith sponsors John for $3/month and gets monthly updates like “John is now on level 2, has finished to learn all letter sounds and moving into blending. His assessment scores were..” We are however also keen to explore business models that stay within the country and we are keen to work closely with our community to understand where monetization opportunities lie.
Does game based learning distract children? We ran various 4-week-cohorts of children using the App on a daily basis in schools and learning centres. - The teachers in schools told us that children’s confidence in learning increased and the class seemed more motivated to come to school, given the exciting digital activities throughout the day which were seen as a reward for class participation and positive assessment scores.
- The Director of a Centre for street children also told us that many children drop out and go back to the streets if they feel that they get too much education time during the day. When he introduced SEMA LAND, the children were indeed learning but they perceived it as a “cool and fun activity” which helped incentivize them to stay in the centre.
- And finally, children in refugee camps with psychosocial disorders find it easier to interact and learn through games instead of more traditional exercises.
I hope to have answered all the different questions and comments. Please share anything else you would like us to discuss further!
We're also particularly interested to hear thoughts and advise on distribution and business model if anyone wants to join this conversation.