After many hours of thorough consultation, development and planning, the EduQuality program of Opportunity EduFinance has successfully launched a new blended learning model providing professional development for school leaders and teachers.
This exciting initiative builds on the foundation of our Education Quality program, combining digital resources with in-person training for over 1,500 affordable non-state schools across seven countries in Africa1 and Latin America2. Participating school leaders received a low-cost tablet loaded with the Chalkboard Education app – or are accessing the app on their own laptop or smart device3 - which hosts our EduQuality resources and training modules.
This scaled rollout carries on work from two successful pilots and is the culmination of a multi-year partnership with Chalkboard Education (’Chalkboard’) announced in February 2021. It enables our EduQuality team to offer school leaders and teacher mentors a combination of in-person professional development training alongside digital self-access resources and tools, including our digitized Pathways to Excellence guide and a new extensive Supplementary Resource Library. Our aim is to implement solutions to support the greatest number of school leaders and teachers while ensuring quality and impact at scale, with the ultimate goal of driving an increase in student learning.
Blended Learning Model Rollout
During the last quarter, 33 Education Specialists worked together to facilitate 35 individual Introductory Seminars with over 600 school leaders in 7 countries. During the seminars, leaders are presented with an overview of the new model components and how it can benefit their school as a sustainable, quality educational institution. This includes the new Teacher Mentor Professional Development training program using a ‘training-of-trainers’ approach, alongside the integration of digital content.
In preparation for these seminars, EduQuality staff spent hundreds of hours setting up low-cost tablets loaded with the Chalkboard app, already downloaded with Pathways to Excellence, training content and surveys. To date, 827 tablets have been distributed to school leaders – with an additional 650+ anticipated for Uganda. These leaders have decided to commit their schools to the new 3-year EduQuality program, signing a School Charter which outlines commitments by both EduQuality and each school, and paying a small commitment fee in to receive their tablet and ensure buy-in to the full program.
School Leader and Education Specialist Feedback
We asked our team of Education Specialists to reflect on the new Blended Learning model and the rollout of digital content and tablets. Below they share their experiences of running the Introductory Seminars and working with school leaders to learn to navigate content digitally.
School Leader Training in Ghana on using the Chalkboard App
School Leaders receive tablets with the Chalkboard Education Application
An interactive activity at an Introductory Seminar in Tanzania, demonstrating the blended format of digital plus in-person training sessions and workshops
EDITH MUKAYLA, EDUCATION SPECIALIST, UGANDA
How do you feel about introducing the Chalkboard App to schools?
Years back, if someone told me that the chalk and board that I saw my teachers hold at the front of my classroom would turn out to be an application that supports school leaders to achieve quality education in our schools, I would not have believed it. I never for once imagined the combination of teacher and technology.
How have school leaders responded?
The effort and adherence our school leaders have shown to adapt to the new technological era is astonishing and life-changing to the lives of the children in our partner schools. I am excited to learn that what I thought was a dream is now a reality that is impacting multitudes of children.
Thank you for the tablets and for holding our hands in this journey of education. By the end of 3 years school leaders, teachers, learner, and communities will be transformed. - Fridah, School Leader, Kenya
School Leaders and Education Specialists in Rwanda after a workshop
School leaders in Ghana showing the Pathways to Excellence guide on the Chalkboard Education app
FREDERICK KABAGEMA, SCHOOL LEADER, LITTLE STARTS DAYCARE CENTER, UGANDA
What was your greatest learning during the lockdown?
During lockdown, I learned a lot of things. The greatest thing I learned was how to use technology in everything I do. It was impossible go to school so I was helping parents with homework packages for the children.
What did you learn from the Intro Seminar and the role of technology in your work?
My greatest learning from the intro seminar is that I have been able to use Chalkboard while I'm doing the self-assessment of my school. No one can deny the importance of technology to the current Education System. The Covid19 pandemic demonstrated why online education should be a vital part of teaching and learning. However, educational technology has some challenges as many teachers don't have enough knowledge on the use of technology.
Tablet distribution and training for school leaders in Kenya
Introductory Seminar in Tanzania with school leaders
We are very grateful for the opportunity you gave us to learn...We shall continue implementing on the issues we are learning. Thank you so for even the tablets. They will be of great help to ensure we offer quality education. - Patrick, Cluster Chair, Kenya
ANDREA CAMACHO, SENIOR EDUCATION SPECIALIST, COLOMBIA
What have school leaders in Colombia said about digitized content?
The school leaders are very excited with the Chalkboard Education application. The application is guiding them; it already provides the activities, objectives and goals for their school development plans. They are using the activities for development plans, and even their daily activities. School leaders are already sharing access to the Pathways to Excellence Library of resources with their teachers, so they are familiar with the activities too!
Learning from successful Introductory Seminars
Based on the two previous pilots, we learned that investing significant time during the first seminar to boost the digital literacy skills of participants is essential. Doing hands-on demonstrations and exercises, and providing individual IT support helps ensure participants leave the seminar confident to continue accessing the digital content on their own. For example, the benefit to having school leaders complete a short School Profile survey during the workshop is that we get important data on each school, while they also experience submitting surveys digitally. The school leaders also submitted their Pathways to Excellence self-assessments during the seminar, rather than taking it away to complete on their own time. This gave participants significant hands-on practice navigating Chalkboard during the session, and they were able to ask questions and get support as needed.
Key learning points:
- Begin preparing the school leaders for the tablets and new resources as early as possible.
- Offer the school leaders one-to-one support as they learn how to use the tablets and navigate through the modules.
- Identify what internet networks are available at the venues for setting up the tablets in advance of the workshop, as surveys can be completed offline but need to be submitted over the internet to send to the central database.
What’s next for the EduQuality Blended Learning model
The next stage of rollout will be new rounds of introductory workshops with Teacher Mentors. They will attend with their school leader who has selected them as a mentor and engage with an overview of the Teacher Mentor Professional Development training program (TMPD). Teacher Mentors will also receive their tablets loaded with the TMPD modules that they will be complete over five sessions each year within their school clusters.
By year end, the Chalkboard Education and EduQuality teams are also planning for a native app to be finalized, in addition to the existing web app. Among other features, this will allow for more integration of short videos into the training modules to demonstrate teaching techniques and help make the Chalkboard content even more interactive.
 Uganda is currently under a new lockdown and all schools are closed. However, a number of Ugandan schools participated in the pilot using Chalkboard Education’s app for the Teacher Mentor program and have been included in feedback from school leaders. We expect over 650+ additional schools to attend and join from Uganda in July/August.
 Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Tanzania, Colombia
 In Colombia, school leaders were able to continue engaging with the EduQuality program virtually via Zoom throughout school closures using their own laptops and devices. Leaders are using these same devices to now log-in and access the Chalkboard Education web app.