Sutherland Khan Academy / Numeric Project

by Eli Kasai, OAD intern

    1. Aim of the “OAD / Khan Academy” project and synergies with the Numeric project

My first project with the OAD looked into getting the Khan Academy Youtube videos into an offline package. This package could be then used as an “extra Mathematics learning resource” in underprivileged schools in South Africa and the rest of Africa at a later stage. The original idea was to download the offline content known as “Khan on a stick”, extract the mathematics videos and use the South African CAPS (Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements) to sort them into groups according to the grades. As the project made progress, it was brought to our attention that a South African establishment called Numeric had already started to develop such a resource. Hence we contacted them and adopted their content.

    1. Implementation in Sutherland schools

The Numeric content was sent to the Sutherland Community Development Centre (SCDC) early April to be piloted on the two schools in the area. Learners from the two schools have been attending sessions under the guidance of Anthony Mietas and Willem Prins (both working for the SCBP) as well as two interns at the SCDC. The report by Anthony gives a general feedback on the program thus far, highlighting the successes, challenges and suggested recommendations.

    1. Feedback and evaluation of the project

Language challenges: If Khan/Numeric content were presented in Afrikaans, some communication barriers would have been remedied greatly, leading to better performance. A suggested solution is to buy Afrikaans to English dictionaries for the centre. However, the language challenges affected mostly the grades 6 to 9.

Momentum of the project: The project was not presented as compulsory for all learners in the two schools. As a result, the majority of the learners from both schools did not sign up for the program. The minority learners that signed up attend the program at the centre every day of the week from 2-3pm for the grades 6-9 and 4-5pm for the grades 10-12. The mathematics teachers from the two schools did not fully understand the main aim of the project as being an extra learning resource, and occasionally charged that the grades 6-9 material was not compatible with their curriculum content. While this may be true, the two teachers need to be made aware that the objective of this project is to serve as an extra learning resource and not necessarily contradictory to the curriculum.

Diversity of school levels: All learners within each grade category (6-9, 10-12) attend the program at the same time within the time slot given for each category. This does not sound effective because different grades would obviously have different requirements in terms of the content to be covered. It appears that the guidelines (in the form of pdfs) sent with the content were not utilised in implementing the program. Unfortunately the OAD could not address this issue due to a lack of awareness.

Issues with mentors: The grade category 10-12 did require further explanations of the concepts from time to time, which the interns at the centre were unable to provide, due to their lack of training in Mathematics up to that level.

    1. Conclusions

The preliminary suggested solution is to have a meeting between the OAD, SCDC and the Mathematics teachers from the two schools to clarify the goals of this project and emphasize the existence of this program as a tool to enhance the learning of Mathematics in upper primary and secondary schools. At such a meeting, the OAD intends to provide guidelines on how to implement the program effectively and also host a short training session with the interns at the centre, as part of the response plan to the challenges addressed above.

 

Appendix

A. Report on the offline numeric program khan academy in partnership with the IAU-OAD, by Anthony Mietas. (Anthony Mietas is the program leader at the Sutherland Community Development Centre)

A.1  Positive points

  • The children that are using it enjoyed spending time on the program.
  • Maths Teachers for both schools are using the literacy to prepare themselves
  • The Sutherland community development centre are offering a structured program daily
  • It is very user friendly, easy for the children to access the literature
  • The videos are nice and short making it easier for the children to concentrate for the duration it is playing
  • The material is available offline, so you do not need internet connection, you can still proceed with the program if the internet is down.
  • There is a willingness from some children to use resources like this to empower themselves

A.2  Challenges

  • There is a few of the foundation and intermediate phase learners that are struggling with some English concepts
  • Children are looking for Afrikaans workbooks with exercises they can take home and spend time working through.
  • The interns does not have maths back ground and find it sometimes difficult to answer follow up questions from learners, especially in Grades 10,11, and 12.
  • Buy in from both teachers and parents at all levels, not only make it a one men show.
  • We only have a group of 24 learners on the program and they are using the resource at the same time even though they are in different grades.
  • Synchronising the program with curriculum teaching within the classroom, so learners are getting exposed to the same thing on both ends.

A.3  Lessons learnt

  • A delegation of the OAD and SAAO should have met with teachers / parents and learners to explain the program, its purpose, etc, to get their buy in and support.
  • Even though the system is designed to be self educating, there is always follow up questions, and you need somebody with the capacity to sometimes explain things in learner’s mother tongue.
  • We need to get English dictionaries for the Sutherland Community Development Centre, for learners to use for some translation if need be.
  • The grades need to be separated, and running under themes, daily sessions for different grades
  • The sessions they are doing need to make sense to learners, the only way we could ensure this would be if we more or less on a weekly basis work are done with what they are busy with in the classrooms.
  • The planning for roll out next year 2014 need to happen in the last quarter of 2014, so that it becomes part of the school program for that year as extra curriculum activities.
  • Their need to be some form of assessment to test if learners really understand the concepts and if the programme is helping in this regard.
  • The broader community needs to be informed about the allocated times for this intervention at the SCDC so we could only work with that particular group at that point in time.

A.4  Recommendations

  • Training for interns on how to effectively use the program and on the problematic maths concepts they are struggling with.
  • Meet with the teachers/learners and parents during the last quarter of 2014 for next year.
  • Separate the grades from one another
  • Get the maths teachers to be more involved through conducting some activities.
  • Buy dictionaries for the SCDC