Excerpt from World Bank blog post by CLAUDIA COSTIN, published 09/15/2014
See the original post here.
A good quality basic education equips students with the foundational skills (reading, writing and numeracy) they need to function in today’s society and prepare them for lifelong learning. But in many parts of the world, schooling alone is not yielding the expected results, and countries are experimenting with innovative learning and teaching tools, including online platforms.
In Brazil, a Portuguese version of the Khan Academy’s free online education platform (see World Bank Group President Jim Kim’s post last week) is helping thousands of students master basic skills. This effort has been spearheaded by the Fundação Lemann (Lemann Foundation), an organization dedicated to improving the country’s education quality.
As with the original Khan Academy content, a student using the Brazil platform takes a quick test, maps her knowledge, and then masters the content at her own pace. Teachers can see a dashboard, which tells them how students are progressing. This helps decide homework, which is then graded by the system by the next day. They can even replay a video of the student solving the exercise. So teachers can dig in very deep if they wish, which helps them assign students to learning groups more efficiently and to encourage students to master the content during school hours.
The foundation has now made Khan Academy content accessible to 70,000 students, 2,500 teachers, and several hundred schools in Brazil. An eight-hour training program has also been developed for teachers and focuses on areas they could improve on once they have the data from the platform. Helping teachers with critical information about their students is at the heart of the program.
As the debate about technology in education continues, and points of view diverge, it is important not to impose approaches on schools unless they want it and perceive it as useful. In Brazil, districts have the freedom to choose whether or not they want to participate and use these online platforms. The Brazilian government provides the necessary infrastructure to any district that wishes to use the content.
While the impact of the Brazilian platforms must be evaluated rigorously over time, early findings are encouraging. Data show that students using the platforms are more likely to show up in class. The platforms also help improve students’ self-esteem. Nearly all teachers have consistently used the platform during the school year. These results hold promise and show that this is clearly a space to watch going forward!