Success stories: Leveraging mobile learning to spread child safeguarding best practices in cocoa communities.

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Emmanuelle Rosset is Human Resources and Child Safeguarding Director at International Cocoa Initiative. Based in Geneva, she has led the conception and implementation of a mobile training program on Child Safeguarding, distributed to ICI staff across Ghana, Ivory Coast and Switzerland, made by Chalkboard Education. She is answering Paa Kofi Antwi-Larbi’s questions.

What is your mission?
Our mission is to improve the lives of children at risk of child labour in cocoa-growing communities. We work with our partners in the public and private sectors and, through our multi-stakeholder platform, we act as a platform to foster discussion and educate on ways to eliminate child labour. We operate in Ivory Coast and Ghana, with some outsourced personnel present in Cameroon

What did Chalkboard Education assist with? What were your objectives?
In 2017, in line with our core values, we developed new child safeguarding policies. To put these policies to work, we carried out face-to-face training with our staff members on the target topics, but we felt we needed an innovative way to communicate our policies and training material to staff. Specifically, we needed to reach an increasing number of people while ensuring consistency in the presentation of our training content. ICI has regional offices across Ivory Coast, but we also have field agents that work remotely who require training. We needed a tool that would allow us to reach our staff wherever they were and allow them to train and learn whenever suited them best. This is how we began working with Chalkboard Education.

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Bilingual curriculum on Child Safeguarding, by International Cocoa Initiative and Chalkboard Education

How was your experience working with the Chalkboard Education team?
Our selection process to find the right tool to suit our needs was competitive. We selected Chalkboard Education because we felt that it was an organization aligned with our operations, offering flexibility and an innovative approach to facilitate learning. Our initial interactions and projects required a bit of time, considering we were still mapping out content development and that there were many stakeholders involved. Chalkboard Education assisted us to navigate this process. The team has been very responsive and flexible, particularly given that we have had many requests. Another contributing factor to selecting Chalkboard Education was that the project was relatively new, and we needed an organization to help us build it up. Their team did an excellent job at that.

You have been using both the app and the dashboard. What features did you enjoy using the most?
In Geneva, most employees use their computers to complete the modules. In Ivory Coast and Ghana, people are generally using their phones; it has been great, especially for people on missions (fieldwork). One of the features we like is that the application works offline. It allows them to continue to learn and to complete modules, even in remote areas where connectivity is unreliable. We have received training on how to use the dashboard, and it is quite beneficial because it allows us to be more independent. We can make changes to our content in real-time, register or remove users, by ourselves.

How did they make a significant difference to your project?
The application has helped make our activities and processes more efficient. It provides cost savings because when you undertake face-to-face training and refreshers, it costs significantly more than virtual training or e-learning.

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An illustration from International Cocoa Initiative’s curriculum on Child Safeguarding (Eli Nartey/Chalkboard Education)

How did your beneficiaries perceive the app?
People have reacted quite positively to Chalkboard Education, considering it is a new way to learn. Training is sometimes thought of in a specific format; in a classroom with a teacher while in front of a board, where learning occurs in a formal way. The application has helped people break misconceptions about classrooms as the only learning approach and enabled them to partake in innovative and alternative ways to learn.

How do you know users are engaged on the platform and how do you keep track of this?
We receive a lot of data from Chalkboard Education, but I think it is a key point for us to really make sure we know what people are doing with e-learning modules. A big question is how to measure their impact. We receive feedback, which is generally positive. People tell us they have completed the modules and that they will apply them in their daily lives, but it will take some time before we can actually measure a change. We may need to do some refreshers so that people don’t forget what they learnt. Measuring long term impact will be very important.

You contracted Chalkboard Education’s team of instructional designers as well. What do you think of this offer? Are you satisfied with the content they created?
Yes, we did. We had quite an iterative process with the Chalkboard Education team because we wanted to deliver the right message and this takes time. It resulted in developing good content for which we got positive feedback from external stakeholders from the sector. They appreciated the clarity of it all: the training material was broken down into bite-sized modules, sessions and quizzes to ensure the message was not too technical, and so that all trainees with all backgrounds were on the same page. Chalkboard Education developed real-life scenarios within the training content that trainees could relate to, and illustrated them with hundreds of clear, colourful comics made by a Ghanaian artist that further enhanced the learning experience.

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Illustrating the session on Child Interviews (Eli Nartey/Chalkboard Education)

How has the integration of Chalkboard Education’s application impacted your work overall?
It has improved our work process. One key example is the increase in our reach or connectivity. The Chalkboard Education app has allowed us to reach more people irrespective of their level or position in the organization, and connect to people wherever they are, making our operations much more global. It has also helped us to incorporate learning into our staff’s daily routine, and as I mentioned earlier, it has helped us with efficiency and cost savings.

What were your highlights working with Chalkboard Education?
The first highlight is flexibility; we have added quite a few things since we began working with the team. We started with two modules and then added a third module. We changed our minds a bit at some stages, and Chalkboard Education has adapted to our needs and constraints. It has been a positive experience working with them.

Are there any plans for future collaborations with Chalkboard Education, how can they help you scale?
We are in the process of developing an additional module on child labour, and we plan to use the Chalkboard Education application for that module and possibly other HR topics if it fits our budget.

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Educational technology in Africa and emerging markets https://www.chalkboard.education/

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