Innovation Development Directorate
Internet Free Education Resource Bank
What is Internet Free Education Resource Bank ?
What is the problem we are addressing?
Education has been adversely impacted by the spread of COVID-19. Schools across the globe have been temporarily closed, leaving teachers, administrators and parents looking for ways to administer remote learning to keep students engaged in education while adhering to community safety protocols. Today, more than 1.5 billion additional students are not in school because they are confined to their homes in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19.
As governments continue to grapple with the challenges of the current coronavirus crisis, the unique problems posed by long-term quarantines will likely be significant for students from underserved communities. Whilst many schools have begun to adapt and implement distance-learning solutions, the majority of students worldwide are left without hardware connectivity, distance learning infrastructures, and home-learning materials.
These COVID-19-related school closures and disruptions to education as a result of social, environmental, or political reasons have therefore left many learners in marginalized communities with little to no access to education. Due to the lack of internet connectivity and lack of adaptable learning resources in these communities, many children are left with large learning gaps and risk dropping out of school.
What is our solution?
EAA has developed The Internet Free Resource Bank (IFERB) which contains a range of interdisciplinary projects that were designed to meet the learning needs of 4–14-year-old learners. What makes IFERB unique, however, are that they are developed for Internet and Technology Free Settings, as well as Low Resource Contexts. The resources can also be implemented in remote or in-person contexts and can be used across different multimedia. The resources have been developed to be used across global contexts so aligned to international curricula and adapted to local student needs and can be implemented with basic supervision. IFERB empowers learners to not only continue engaging academically during school closures, but also gain several skills that are harder to develop in traditional classroom settings. The IFERB resources includes: Project-Based Learning, Math Games Catalogue, The Activity Bank for Disabilities, and Arabic Storyweaver.
The Project-Based Learning Resources:
The Project-Based Learning resources are extended weeklong activities that are interdisciplinary in nature covering all subjects including 21st-century skills with an additional focus on literacy and numeracy skills. The 126 projects cater to under-resourced contexts by requiring little to no internet access and relying mainly on commonly available materials such as pens, paper, scissors etc. Furthermore, they are aligned to 5 global curricula and are designed to be adapted by educators and parents to suit their contexts and student levels by enriching or simplifying the suggested projects. The contextualized projects are now available in 9 languages including Arabic, French, Hindi, Urdu, Kannada, Punjabi, and more. The project bank pages have been viewed 19,416 (29th April 2021) times by individuals from over 130 countries and have won the M-Education Alliance Award in the Crisis and Conflict Category.
The Math Games Catalog:
The Math Games Catalog is designed to help learners practice math fluency and build confidence through internet-free, low-resource math games. The resources offer over 100 simple math games that are developed for learners across 4 levels (4 – 14 years of age) mapped to curricular skills and strands based on the Khan Academy Competency Framework. The Math Games are also aligned to M-Education Alliance’s Math Power vision and supported by the Julia Robinson Math Festival. The Catalog also includes Educator Resources, which are available to help provide guidance in utilizing the Math Catalogues.
The Activity Bank for Disabilities:
In collaboration with experts in the field, EAA has developed an activity bank for children that require additional and specialized care, in order to support their continued development and learning. The resources in the bank have been developed for those with multiple needs and segregated into the domains of: i) Oral Sensory, ii) Auditory Sensory, iii) Proprioceptive, iv) Visual Sensory and v) Activities of Daily Living vi) Literacy vii) Numeracy. The domains and activities are meant to be chosen, customized, and adapted by parents and caregivers depending on the learner's needs and abilities. The Activity Bank for Disabilities has been downloaded thousands of times and is being implemented with the Action Foundation in Kenya. The activities are available in English and Swahili.
The Arabic Storyweaver:
To improve illiteracy rates in the Arab World, EAA is providing children a comprehensive multi-leveled library of reading books on a platform that would allow learners to access open-source stories in the case of unreliable internet connectivity and electrical shutoffs. Under UNESCO’s global digital library initiative, EAA has collaborated with Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), Qatar National Library (QNL), Qatar University, to translate, adapt, and activities to Pratham StoryWeaver’s books. Each book features literacy activities that help build core skills of comprehension, retelling, re-imagining, etc. Also, selected books from early levels will feature audio read-alongs.
An overview of our impact
In the recently completed iteration of the IFERB pilots, EAA reached a total of 113,470 students in 29 different regions within 5 countries through our partner NGOs. The various pilots ran in different contexts which included projects for long term out-of-school students, currently out-of-school students, rural marginalized and urban marginalized communities. The assessment data shows academic growth of up to 16.4% and an average participation rate of 82.0%.
By February 2021, the IFERB resources were being piloted with over 20 NGOs or schools in 5 countries including India, Kenya, Lebanon, Zambia, and Pakistan, the longest pilot being 22 weeks.
We have feedback through our pilots that IFERB has had a tremendous impact in promoting life skills, conceptual learning, and fostering teacher effectiveness. With 80% agreeing that IFERB taught 21st century skills (communication, confidence, creativity and critical thinking) and 90% agreeing that IFERB brought learning and growth, the innovation has proven to be successful.
While the IFERB resources are freely available online, partnering with organizations around the world has enabled us to expand our reach and benefit more learners than otherwise possible.
Examples of implementation
Each project was developed by the EAA’s Innovation Development Directorate taking into consideration key factors that include:
- Ensuring global relevance and building key life and 21st century skills. Through the “Setting up a Store” project, for example, learners set up their own shops and practiced entrepreneurship as they honed their communication, critical thinking and creativity skills and learned about profit and loss and other mathematical concepts.
- Promoting self-directed learning while providing opportunities for caretakers of all literacy levels to contribute. For example, in “Grandmother’s tales”, grandmothers or elders played an important role by orally narrating folk stories to learners who then re-imagined them, adding their own modern twist. This highlighted the importance of partnering with the community and making student growth and learning more visible and explicit in order to secure buy-in for this method of teaching and learning from parents and communities.
What are our future goals?
The goal with this innovation is to create an educational toolkit for deployment in emergency contexts. IDD offers IFERB as a free internet resource for any user and hopes that it will be an off-the-shelf offering for educators, NGOs and parents to use as an independent learning resource or as a complement to concepts taught in school.
IFERB comprises projects across multiple subjects such as science, mathematics, language arts, social sciences, economics and environmental studies. It provides teacher training and also contains monitoring and evaluation procedures and documents.
This complete package allows implementers to independently deploy the educational projects based on their individual needs and also monitor the learners’ development throughout.
How can someone else implement it? What do they need?
In order to implement IFERB in your context, use the resources on our website and follow the steps below:
- Select projects based on: i) your prioritized subject and skills, ii) students’ context, learning levels and needs, iii) deployment mechanism (remote, in-person, phone-based, etc.) and availability of visual tools, iv) guidance available, and v) student engagement.
- Contextualize projects by: i) changing examples terminology and references used where possible to ensure relevance to your context; ii) simplifying or extending projects depending on learner needs; iii) aligning more closely to your curriculum and iv) developing scripts for facilitators/teachers where needed.
- Identify the appropriate mechanism for deployment. Train teachers or facilitators on the basics of PBL implementation and assessment.
- Develop a monitoring, evaluation and learning system and consider including metrics on reach, completion rates, satisfaction rates and learning and growth.
Organizations can reach out to EAA’s IDD for support by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.