Scaling up effective teaching practices: the eSchool 360 Model in Rural Zambia


 Presenter (s) Scott Pulizzi, American Institutes for Research; Reshma Patel, Impact Network

In Zambia, community schools operate along the formal education system and have increased by 45-fold in the past 20 years to meet the demand for education, especially in rural areas (Ministry of General Education, Republic of Zambia, 2018). Many of these community schools are staffed by committed, but untrained educators. The eSchool 360 program model, implemented by the Impact Network and supported by the American Institutes for Research, is designed to increase access to, and the quality of, education, by focusing on techno logy, training and teacher professional development. The program started as a pilot in 9 schools. The initial assessments showed promising results in both learning outcomes and cost effectiveness. Building on the initial success, Impact Network with the American Institutes for Research launched a 35-school expansion in 2017. The program now operates 44 schools and is staffed by 157 teachers who engage 6000 learners in a school year. We hire our teachers locally, providing job opportunities in rural areas for people who are vested in the community. We supply each teacher with a Mwabu tablet and projector to deliver interactive eLearning lessons that moves away from traditional rote learning. Our content includes literacy, numeracy, health, environmental conservation, among other practical lessons for life in rural Zambia. As these schools are rural, we use solar panels to power the equipment. To ensure quality and fidelity to the program design our Teacher Supervisors provide teachers with comprehensive training, systematic oversight and coaching, and learning technology resources and support. Subsequent to the onboard training at the beginning of the school year, staff give teachers weekly coaching and monthly professional development interventions to help them improve their pedagogical and technology skills. Weekly coaching sessions help tailor support to the needs of individual teachers. Teacher Supervisors spend time observing lessons and facilitate discussions with teachers to figure out how they can collaborate on improving instructional practices. During monthly training sessions, teachers come together from across the schools to participate in a series of workshops and build a community of practice. Teachers are also supported by a team that ensures that the equipment is working as intended and is secure. This approach is informed by the work of UNESCO that found that education technology can improve student learning with the proper teacher supports (2019); by promising practices in teacher coaching that focus on observation, reflection, and shared planning (Snyder, Hemmeter, & Fox; 2015); and the principles of adult learning that include task orientation, relevancy, and practicality (Knowles; 1984). We learned that scaling-up effective teacher practices requires a combination of technology, coaching, and support. Relevant learning technology provides structure and consistency to teaching and plays a part in motivating teachers. Technology support is required to make sure the equipment is secured, and functions as intended. Coaching is critical to help teachers contextualize the methods and make the processes routine. Through these three approaches Impact Network and American Institutes for Research have been able to expand the program effectively to 35 more schools and serve more learners. Mid-term results have shown that the opportunity to attend an Impact Network school positively affected children’s learning in reading/literacy, mathematics, and vocabulary. The learning gains are equivalent to 20 additional months of education for reading and 8 additional months of education for mathematics. The Impact Network and the American Institutes for Research have scaled-up effective teaching practices through the eSchool 360 Model. Through our efforts and the use of technology we were able to provide meaningful and rewarding job opportunities in the rural areas that improved learner outcomes in rural Zambia.

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