By 2019, the PRIEDE World Bank project has exceeded several of its targets. In an effort to improve the basic math skills of Kenyan students, it distributed more than 3 million textbooks, valued nearly 30,000 teachers, and its national student information system registered 96 percent of all students nationwide.
But in 2020, the program required more than $ 9 million to deploy a teacher training campaign. Halfway through he recorded Fr. A decrease of 2.5 percent in 2nd grade his math skills were tried to improve without teaching educators how to use new resources effectively. The decline was eventually resumed, but the project eventually concluded that the dissemination of materials had almost no positive impact on learning outcomes.
The main problem
It is noteworthy that even in 2020, the World Bank introduced targeted support for teachers only after the reduction of the key indicator. More worrying is that this is not an isolated case.
Teachers are constantly insufficiently prepared to introduce technical tools into their classes. Governments and development organizations have funded the distribution of materials without similar investments in teacher education on how, when, and why to use these tools. In 2020, only 10 percent of Kenyan teachers used more than a million laptops distributed through the digital literacy program between 2016 and 2018.
Rwanda, African leader of edtech, has partnered with (previously) UN-supported One Laptop for a Child initiative without explaining how teachers should work with them. And American schools regularly pay for tools, but not for teacher training.
While this is vital for true outcomes, teacher training is often neglected because of its relatively high cost, time cost, and immediate impact, which is difficult to measure.
Survey after survey shows teachers ’deep dissatisfaction with the amount of support they receive, especially when it comes to integrating technology into their classes. The The Promethean State of Technology in Education UKI Report found that more than 64 per cent of UK teachers were dissatisfied with the training they received; only 15 percent believed they had received satisfactory training in edtech.
Bart Epstein, CEO of the American exchange EdTech Evidence Exchange, believes this a the main problem, especially given that more and more schools are using technology after the pandemic. “Too many schools think the cost of tuition, professional development and support is optional,” Epstein told EdSurge. He adds that schools can spend $ 125,000 on a license, but opt out of the $ 25,000 tuition package offered with it.
Scaling and modernizing curricula, if implemented, is also a challenge. “Outdated teacher training in the U.S. is outdated,” says Taylor Chapman, partner at the SEI Ventures Higher Education Investment Fund. “This is a key area for innovation.” Some companies are starting to appear, but many are offering simple online certificates that are generally low quality.
Teachers want solutions
“Before the pandemic, one of the biggest challenges for the founders of EdTech was the involvement of teachers in digital tools,” said Thiago Rached, founder of Brazil’s Letrus writing improvement tool, at the LATAM EdTech Show. It also appeared our interviews with Chinese teachers in early 2020 on the transition to distance learning. But “that has completely changed. The pandemic has made teachers realize that there is no way out of technology and that it can help them in many ways, ”says Rached.
Teachers are committed to learning opportunities. Initially worried about how to encourage educators to attend classes, Misan Revane, co-founder West Africa Vocational Education (WAVE), noted with which initiative enthusiastic educators reacted to this initiative. “Teachers usually want to work well, they just don’t have enough time,” she says.
Kiko Muuo, founder of the Kenyan Teacher Training and STEAM Platform Engaza Elivu, had a similar experience with his own services of his firm. “We had a training on Zoom, where teachers spent 4.5 hours. They had no incentive to do so, they bought their own mobile data to be there, struggling with connectivity issues. ”
Training is in great demand. “Initially, we thought it would be only six weeks,” says Muuo of the standard Angaza Eliwu training course. “But the teachers asked for long observations,” so the firm decided to provide this through weekly calls. “They see real progress in their classes, which motivates them to continue to use the platform and go through the curriculum.”
A similar trend was observed in WAVE. “Teachers were engaged through WhatsApp groups and sent videos that they teach after training,” says Revan.
Edtech firms, which rely on faculty and tutors to support their business models, often take a personalized approach to learning. Startups like GoMyCode, from Tunisia or Kibo School, work with students in Africa, teach coding and technology skills, and get faculty directly from their own graduates. While this does not attempt to address the broader issue, it addresses the specific need to train teachers on a specific platform.
Other edtech firms focus on teachers directly, providing in-class analytics and teaching them to use these tools. TeacherFX, Brighteye Ventures ’portfolio company, hopes to improve faculty work and the student experience by offering real-time classroom analytics to help teachers highlight their best teaching style. It helps teachers to self-reflect and adapt to the preferences of their students, but only when educators are able to use analytics. Singapore startup Doyobi, which is used by more than 2,000 teachers, offers video tutorials, a specially created virtual environment for use in the classroom and content such as quizzes to make online teacher classes more interactive.
“Teachers are underpaid and overburdened,” said Nader Shaterian, founder of the digital creation space School Fab Labs. Even if teachers have the tools to improve their pedagogy, they are unlikely to be effective in the long run if they are not easy to use.
Directions for innovation
Teacher training, hampered by bureaucracy, can be a difficult place to penetrate, but three areas promise.
First, improve the ability to share teacher resources. “The space where teachers can share their methods and experiences dramatically improves educational outcomes,” said Anuradha Handa, director of GD Goenko Public High School, a private high school in Delhi. Many governments invested in sharing resources for teachers during the pandemic, but they were mostly limited by school or regional level. One company trying to change this is Colombian Coschool, which allows teachers to upload their own materials so other educators can download for free or for a fee.
The second possibility is rethinking teaching methods using new technologies. Mr. Shaterian is most passionate about virtual reality, as existing teacher training models are human-based and therefore difficult to scale. Eight years ago, School Fab Labs created a successful model “for training teachers and observing them in action with children,” he says, adding that the future may look very different with new technologies. “VR headsets will change everything, I really believe in this sector.”
Finally, tools that free up teachers ’time will allow them to focus more on students. The hardest time workloads for educators include lesson planning as well as creating and evaluating assignments, but few firms focus on this problem, explains Rice Spence, head of research at Brighteye Ventures. Working with 15 schools, ChalkTalk has built a fully adaptive, personalized curriculum development technology to reduce teachers ’time on lesson planning from 2.5 hours to 10 minutes. EdQuill, launched late last year, also seeks to help teachers save time by automating grade determination and sharing content more easily (although their target users at the moment are training centers).
As the Kenyan PRIEDE program has shown, teacher training is important in order to help students learn through edtech. As investment continues to flow into the sector, investors need to pay special attention to how educators are involved and willing to make the most of the tools – and how they learn to use them effectively. After all, teachers can work without technology, but technology in schools just can’t work without teachers.