Success stories: How to scale and measure impact with Chalkboard Education
Tim Maple-Foster is an experienced Primary School Teacher now working at Opportunity International EduFinance, a non-profit supporting schools and financial institutions in over 20 countries worldwide. As the Education Quality Product Development Associate, he has engaged with Chalkboard Education mobile training and measurement & evaluation services, in Ghana and Uganda. He answers questions from Paa Kofi Antwi-Larbi, Communications Officer at Chalkboard Education.
What is your mission at Opportunity International ?
We aim to get more children into better schools, so we work with school leaders to support them on how they can improve their schools, with the aim that we will see more children attending quality schools. Schools work with education specialists who assist them across various topics focusing on school improvement.
What specific project did Chalkboard assist with?
Our first project was the digitisation of “Pathways to Excellence” our school development planning program and we chose Chalkboard Education because it enabled us to get content to our users. We picked Ghana because it was the right time in the calendar year, we could launch our school development program at the start of the school year.
How was your experience working with Chalkboard Education team?
Overwhelmingly, the experience was positive, they are very supportive of our ideas, they worked hard to help us reach our deadlines to launch the pilot. They’re flexible and you can share ideas with Chalkboard and they will try and adapt the platform to suit your needs or would listen to your ideas to come up with the best solution. Generally, they’re a great organisation to work with, respond quickly, and working with them in their office was great fun.
What is the feature you enjoyed the most in the Chalkboard Education app?
One really important feature is that we can work with it offline, a lot of our users are often in poor data areas. The fact that they can download it, and then it stays on the device for use offline is really useful and important for us. It is one of the big reasons we chose this app.
The quiz review feature was also really useful, because it allows people to go back and have a look at their school development plans after they’ve submitted it through Chalkboard Education.
Finally, the Chalkboard Dashboard is really handy. We can update and improve content by ourselves, as much as we want, and add surveys at a particular time.
How did your beneficiaries perceive the app?
I think people liked it, all the feedback I got was that the app created is a useful resource. Most people found it quite easy to use, which was important for us and that it was quite a user-friendly platform. I think, generally speaking it was positively received.
How do you know users are engaged on the platform? How do you keep track of this?
Our data team monitors engagement using the Chalkboard dashboard and API: the number of active users per day, per week, per month. We did some data analysis to see how often people were using it and we found people were pretty engaged on it.
Considering the prior solution was a physical booklet, how has the transition to an online platform been?
The transition enabled us to do more than the booklet. One problem with the booklet was that it didn’t offer quite enough information to fully support school leaders with school development planning. Having the digital version enabled us to provide a lot more support as an organisation. We can also continue to grow seamlessly, because the app allows us to create a more standardised offering
How has the integration of Chalkboard Education impacted your work overall?
It has made us consider going more digital. We started one project with Chalkboard Education, and we have now done a second. We are looking to continue to work with them in the future to build out more of what we are doing.
It has also been a good experience for our data team to learn a new way of gathering data, and they now have this in place. We are able to use Chalkboard Education automatically collected data effectively, which is good. We are now well poised to go forward.
What were your highlights working with Chalkboard Education?
I would say I have learned more about how EduTech platforms work, like how to code, I even learned to make HTML dropdowns! My main highlight was in Ghana working on the pilot, with the team to prep it for launch, it was good fun. Also, seeing the users use it and giving good feedback on how useful it was.
With our Uganda project, seeing all the teachers use the app, to do their teacher training, and give feedback on effective teaching techniques to each other, that was cool.
We have started doing lesson observations forms on Chalkboard Education for that project, which is exciting. Teachers can use it to monitor other teachers and give them feedback on how they could teach better lessons, which is going be really beneficial, so we are excited to see this starting be used.
Are there any future collaborations with Chalkboard?
Yes, we plan to continue working on developing the programs we’ve been working on so far, and we are looking at the possibility of extending beyond just piloting Chalkboard. We are looking to have it become a significant part of our whole education quality programme, and extending it use into more countries that we operate in.