Once upon a time, I had a wild idea for a project called “The Learning Village.” In this idea, kids and adults living in Haiti can actually learn using little more than iPods and solar chargers. A few of the key strengths of the idea include:
- By using audio & video, we can teach people that cannot read.
- The process is user controlled (students can learn at their own pace).
- The process is repeatable (students can watch videos as many time as they’d like)
- The entire family can learn with one iPod (making it very affordable).
- Education can move into areas where schools are unavailable or struggling.
- Teachers can learn to be better teachers right where they serve.
- Where schools are available, iPods are easily integrated into classrooms
Truthfully, the list goes on and on. It’s impressive to think of all that is possible with some very simple technology and the right people.
The big question has been, “Will it work?”
We decided to research the idea in order to collect some real data.
The results may surprise you . . .
FIRST: We created 5 videos (ranging in length from 3 minutes all the way up to 20 minutes). Each video is in Haitian-Kreyòl (the language spoken by all Haitians). These videos covered information ranging from shapes and colors, to numbers, characters from the alphabet, found objects, and more.
THIRD: On May 21, 2010 we arrived at a remote community along the Northern coast of Haiti to search for the answer to that question. 20 children were identified, ranging in age from 5 to 13.
FOURTH: Our crack team of Haitian film school students administered a 100-question pre-exam (all of our field projects are Haitian-led). This allowed us to measure exactly what the children knew about the information in the videos.
FIFTH: After the pre-test was administered, we introduced the iPods, showed the children how to operate them, left enough money for the local pastor to charge them using his generator, and then we left.
SIXTH: One month later we returned to administer the same test again. We shall refer to this as the “post-test” since it was administered to close the experiment.
The results were STAGGERING. There was an average increase in score of 44%! That is without any formal teacher present! In addition to the notable increase in scores, students turned in more than 140 sheets of practice papers (which we did not give them supplies for nor ask them to produce). While chatting with them, several explained that they had even taken it upon themselves to form their own informal discussion groups as they sat around their yards discussing the things they were learning on the iPods. Incredible!
Here are just a few of the results:
I could go on… but I think you get the point.
FROM HERE: While we are thrilled with these initial findings, we know that we need to repeat these experiments to see if different communities will deliver similar results.
We’re calling it “20 iPods in 20 days” and are officially announcing it right here, right now! Please consider helping us with this project. This next experiment will test five communities simultaneously, using 20 iPods which we do not presently have. In addition to the actual iPods we need to raise funds to pay for things like fuel, personnel, protective cases, charging cables, and so forth. This 1-month-long, 5 community, 20 iPod, follow up experiment will cost $5,000.
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Thanks so much for your participation as we revolutionize education in Haiti!