Technology enables Haitian students to read, write, and share books. Students use laptops and tablets to download books from a digital library and compose their own creative stories. Our library contains hundreds of books in Haitian Creole, and it's only going to get larger as students add their own writing to it. The searchable image library in our writing app makes it easy for them to make their own stuff.
We are wrapping up a 6-month trial with 600 students and 12 teachers from 3 schools. We divided the students into a group that uses laptops and a group that uses pen and paper to evaluate the impact of technology on literacy. Both groups cover the same lessons and content; the only difference is what tools they use. Over the summer, during a 6-week trial, the laptop group had the same reading gain as the paper group, but teachers reported higher engagement and writing samples were longer for the laptop group. We anticipate that over a 6-month trial, these differences will have a larger impact on test scores.
How does your innovation work?
Books are stored on an offline server. Students connect to the server with laptops or tablets and download books to read on their device. They use a writing app on their device to create their own books, adding text and images to a page. They can draw pictures, take photos, or search through our image library.
What Evidence do you have that your Innovation works?
Compared to students using paper books and notebooks, students in the laptop group had the same reading gains (0.8 standard deviations in scores, or 14 correct words per minute). Teachers reported higher student engagement with the laptops, and writing samples were 2 pages longer on average for this group.
Do you have current users or testers?
600 students and 12 teachers from 3 schools in a market town in rural Haiti are currently participating in our research study. In addition, 24 students in an urban slum (Cite Soleil) in the capital are testing our tablet model.
What is your strategy for expanding use of your innovation?
Our low cost ($5 / student) will enable schools throughout Haiti to invest in technology and access to high-quality mother-tongue books. We hope to partner with organizations that have networks of schools, so that once we have piloted the innovation at one school, it can expand to others. Since 90% of the schools in Haiti are private, we have to target these private networks, rather than working with the Ministry of Education alone. Some of our partners have already deployed laptops / tablets and servers on the ground (1,500 computers from Bethel Computers for Education; 1,000 laptops from Endless; 15 schools with Inveneo; thousands of laptop with One Laptop Per Child). Depending on each school's ability to support the program, we will be pursuing partnerships with these schools first because they already have access to the technology, bringing the cost of the program down even further.
We want to conduct more research, expand our library, and form more partnerships before launching on a larger scale in 2018.