Chatta's 'Oral Narrative Competence' Innovation Scales Throughout the UK and Beyond!
Chatta has been recognized in HundrED’s 2019 global collection, as one of the leading education innovations in the world. An innovation originating from the UK, Chatta is now used across the world by schools (primary, secondary, special), and students of all ages, along with their families. Chatta was designed to help young children develop ‘oral narrative competence’, which has been identified as the biggest indicator of future writing competence. Based on research relating to what matters most in learning and development, the approach uses technology to present content in a way that mirrors the way people think and embeds in the memory.
Chris Williams, Co-Founder of Chatta, actively presents the Chatta approach at conferences across the world including Asia, the USA, and Europe. He has also used the approach to simultaneously teach 40,000 students in 16 countries, whilst raising £20,000 for children’s charities.
Connected to HundrED since 2016, we got in touch with Chris to hear how being in the HundrED 2019 collection has helped him spread his innovation.
What does it mean for Chatta to be Recognized as a leading education innovation in the HundrED 2019 Global Collection?
I had always wanted to get the message of what I do out to a wider audience. The moment I learned about HundrED’s goals, it really fitted with where I wanted to go. I started Chatta very locally and on a small scale. Having seen the impact of my work, I wanted to share it, but it is a really hard thing to do. HundrED’s interest in seeking, sharing and helping to scale innovations as well as the sense of community here really fitted with me. Without HundrED’s support, we wouldn’t have received as much recognition. We are very happy to be part of the collection.
What are your biggest takeaways from the HundrED Innovation Summit?
It was the people; the speakers, fellow HundrED Ambassadors and the individuals behind the HundrED innovations, and just that everyone understood the struggles and the excitement that we all sometimes face - why change matters and what the barriers to that change are.
I found Saku’s contribution so strong and really representing leadership and vision. When Pasi (Sahlberg) spoke about school change and the importance and challenges of it, I wrote every word down and was learning at a faster rate than I have ever done before. I also realized that I wasn’t on my own and that I was part of a bigger community. Sometimes I felt I was fighting for change on my own. Now I am part of a global community that has helped me in so many ways. A lot of what we are dealing with is exactly the same, which is the belief in doing good, how to make it happen, the hearts and minds of positive change- that is a struggle that is never worth giving up on.
How has the HundrED Summit and global recognition helped progress the impact of Chatta?
Since HundrED, we have now taken Chatta to 40-45 new schools in the UK alone, and one of the things in meetings that makes people want to talk with us is that we are involved with HundrED. Being part of HundrED really intrigues people and helps me show them something exciting.
People, especially HundrED Ambassadors & Academy Members, like Rachel Snape have helped me and introduced me to so many schools in the UK. We have acquired new customers, one of whom will be bringing us 30 new schools by December 2019. Rae is a real supporter and likewise, John Galloway, based out of London, has really introduced me to research, academics and some new schools that have now joined us. He got me involved in a research project with the University College London (UCL). He has opened doors that I didn’t even know existed. That, in the UK, I suppose is massive, but even beyond that, HundrED is global, the amount of interest we are getting has again increased beyond what I could have imagined.
So, what is next for Chatta?
During the HundrED innovation Summit, I took part in the Helsinki Education Week and took Chatta to a kindergarten (in Helsinki). On the day I left Helsinki, I was contacted by a Senior Kindergarten Director, Dan Engström, who really wanted to try Chatta in his centers. This is one of the plus points of being involved with HundrED; they find out what your challenges are and help you get started.
I helped Dan get started with Chatta in his four kindergartens by giving him our resources, our software and training his staff on how to use Chatta online. Dan came to the UK to specifically meet me at the BETT show in London and was really digging deep into the pedagogy and design of Chatta, and concluded that Chatta was perfect for Helsinki and pedagogically the right direction for his centers. Since then, we have scaled up in all his kindergartens and just received an impact report from the pilot. The teachers are telling us wonderful stories of progress that the children are making. For example, a little girl from one of the centers couldn’t speak or communicate her ideas, but very quickly she started to link words and is now speaking in sentences. With just over two weeks of intervention from Chatta, I heard from her teacher that this girl is joking, laughing and really engaging with live chats. Chatta and the skills of the teacher have helped give this little girl language.
Though nothing is fully confirmed yet, we are now having conversations with Liisa Pohjolainen, Director of Education for the Helsinki city and with the help of Dan’s recommendation, some of the Helsinki teachers will come to the UK to see Chatta in action, and my expectation is that by the time we return to Helsinki for the HundrED Innovation Summit 2019, Chatta will be part of many Helsinki kindergartens.
So there is work to do. And every time I have spoken to Saku about our journey, he has been very encouraging and I think the connections and the profile of HundrED have allowed this to happen. One of the reasons why I come back to HundrED with so much positivity about our journey is because I couldn’t have done this on my own. Because I am part of HundrED, people are giving me the chance and the time of day, and are allowing Chatta to prove its worth. Chatta is strong enough, but with HundrED, more people are looking at it - and that’s the difference!
What would you say to innovators who are looking to connect with HundrED? Why should they be part of the global community for change?
I would not have had Helsinki teachers using Chatta if it wasn’t for HundrED. They value HundrED and admire the work of Saku and all of the team. To me, convincing teachers in Finland is a massive accomplishment. The level of educational expertise in Finland is what the world looks up to and if their educators embrace my work, I am honored to be part of that book. HundrED has done what I wanted and hoped it would do. HundrED puts us on the map and being part of this community of global leading innovations, people look at it and want to know more.
For community interested in getting involved, I would say - get involved in any way you can. Connect with the innovators; they are all so receptive and want to connect and help. Also, connect with the Ambassadors because they are very very good advocates for innovation and education. A little story about my new friend, who happens to be a HundrED Ambassador from the UK and Innovator behind Tagtiv8, Bryn Llewellyn. I met him in Helsinki, never met him prior, and now we see each other from time to time. He recommends schools for me and I for him. Education is a small world for communities like HundrED, everybody wants the same thing.
To close, I would encourage them to either apply as an Innovator or as an Ambassador or just start to engage with the community because there is a lot happening. It is all bubbling away and moving at quite a pace.
Do you have an exciting innovation changing the way we educate our students, share your work on HundrED Open.
If you want to inspire your local community with global and local innovations, explore the HundrED Ambassadors program with members from over 70 countries.