Reading improved! The four M’s in action: Mobile pedagogy in Kenya one year later

Ms Carmen Strigel and Ms Sarah Pouezevara | Presentation (PDF)

RTI International


As emphasis shifts from access (quantity) to learning (quality) in education, teachers are increasingly being asked to improve teaching methods and to demonstrate results. Policy-makers and donors are also looking for more data on student learning outcomes and the school and classroom-level factors that provoke change in specific contexts. Traditional methods of pre- and in-service teacher training, national standardized testing, and classroom inspections may be effective, but take too long to implement and see results especially given the iterative nature of teaching, assessment, feedback and teaching again that is required to provoke change. RTI International is tackling this dilemma by integrating mobile technologies into formal learning environments as teaching support tools and data collection devices that can use the power of computing and networking to provide immediate analytics, support and feedback to teachers as they implement new and more effective teaching methods. RTIs suite of open-source tools running on Android or HTML5-enabled devices that we hope will also be exhibited in the walking gallery (see proposal sent separately) include Tangerine: Class, Papaya, Pomegranate, Coconut and Rambutan. Each of these addresses a specific need related to improving educational quality, and moreover, a gap in accessible, easy-to-deploy, open source software on the market. 

We will not present these tools out of context or focus too much on the technology. Instead, the proposed presentation will be a follow up to last year’s presentation at MLW on the planned randomized, controlled evaluation of a package of digital tools being provided to Kenyan teachers with the aim to improve reading instruction. In 2013 we also outlined a conceptual framework for the ‘m’ in ‘mLearning’, addressing aspects such as micro-learning, multimedia, mutual collaboration, monitoring progress, and motivation as key in designing and implementing mobile learning initiatives. The MLW 2013 presentation generated a lot of interest due to the lack of controlled evaluations in this area. This year’s presentation will provide actual qualitative and quantitative results on changes in pedagogy and student reading outcomes, of the trial that took place in Kisumu, Kenya throughout 2013. Illustratively, initial results indicate a 150% increase in oral reading fluency of implementation over control group. 

Our presentation will provide critical lessons learned from the implementation perspective related to effective design of mobile pedagogy, showing how an integrated approach targeting specific skills, such as, e.g. phonemic awareness, can be effective in both impact and cost. A key lesson learned is that while the power of mobile devices makes it tempting to provide a variety of solutions targeting a variety of education problems, in our experience the power of the mobile multimedia comes when it is targeted to specific instructional needs; focused on improving specific instructional routines; and uses proven instructional design principles. We will also present on expected outcomes that were not fully achieved. 

For the proposed session, we hope to discuss with the audience on how to address outcomes not fully achieved, e.g. implementation fidelity, and get feedback on potential opportunities for replication of the trial in other contexts or extension to mathematics/numeracy. 


Ms Pouezevara has over 13 years of experience as an education and development specialist with international organizations. Her expertise is in ICT in basic and higher education, mobile learning, open and distance learning, facilitation of ICT-enabled communities of practice, and teacher professional development. Since 2009, Ms Pouezevara has supported early grade reading assessments and reading improvement programs in Africa and Asia. She contributed to the conceptualization and development of Tangerine® and Tangerine: Class and other complementary ICT-enabled teaching tools for literacy and teacher professional development. Ms Pouezevara holds a Master’s Degree in International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York, with a specialization in Language, Literacy and Technology. 

Ms Carmen Strigel is the Team Leader for ICT for Education and Training at RTI International. Her work focuses on building capacity, fostering stakeholder collaboration, and facilitating information-based decision-making and policy reforms. Ms Strigel’s core expertise lies in teacher professional development, evaluation of electronic teaching materials, pedagogic integration of ICT, organizational development, and ICT policy. Ms Strigel leads the development of Tangerine® and Tangerine: Class, cutting-edge open source software optimized for mobile devices facilitating electronic data collection and continuous assessment in early reading and mathematics. Ms Strigel authored a range of articles and book chapters on ICT and mobiles for learning and assessment, including Using Information and Communication Technologies to Support EGRA in The Early Grade Reading Assessment: Applications and Interventions to Improve Basic Literacy, 2011, and was co-author of the mobile learning and numeracy report developed by RTI for GIZ, Germany. 



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